In the current high-tech world, the production of data and demand for storage is on the rise more than ever before. For this reason, technologists work tirelessly to get storage devices and units that can satisfy the demand. So what is an exabyte in this context, and how does it compare to a gigabyte?
Back in the early days of computing, a megabyte, not to mention a kilobyte, was more than enough to handle the data storage needs. Now kilobytes and megabytes are used when discussing file sizes, not storage devices. Instead, they have been replaced by other larger storage units, some already in use while others are still in theory.
Exabyte (EB) vs. Gigabyte (GB): Side-By-Side Comparison
|What It Is||Unit of data measurement used by large companies||Unit of data measurement used for personal data|
|Abbreviation||EB, EiB||GB, GiB|
|Units Bigger Than It||Zettabyte, Yottabyte||Terabyte, Petabyte, Exabyte, Zettabyte, Yottabyte|
|Units Smaller Than It||Petabyte, Terabyte, Gigabyte, Megabyte, Kilobyte||Megabyte, Kilobyte, byte, bit|
|Number of Bytes||1,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes||1,000,000,000 bytes|
|Number of Gigabytes||1,000,000,000,000||1|
An exabyte (EB) is a data storage unit that represents 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. That looks like a huge number, right? That’s because an exabyte sure is a huge storage unit. Think about it this way, if your phone’s internal memory is 128 gigabytes (could be more or less based on the type of phone you use), this storage space is only 0.000000000128 of an exabyte.
This value of 1 exabyte is equal to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes in decimal notation. An exabyte is not to be confused with an exbibyte, abbreviated as EiB in this notation. An exbibyte comes from the binary measurement system, and it is equal to 1,152,921,504,606,846,976 bytes.
An exabyte is so big that it isn’t used to hold personal data. This means it is impossible to find a storage device measured in exabytes in the market. Most storage devices are in gigabytes, or they may also be found in single-digit terabytes.
Exabytes are used by large companies such as Google, Tesla, or Amazon to store data. It is estimated that Google’s storage capacity is about 10-15 exabytes. Therefore, you can imagine all the photos, documents, contacts, emails, and other content that Google users save on the Google cloud occupies at most 15 exabytes.
What Kind of Data Could Fill an Exabyte?
It would take a video recorded for 237,823 years to fill an exabyte. Additionally, if one gigabyte can hold 100 Webster dictionaries, an exabyte can hold 100 billion dictionaries. Other technologists believe that all the words ever spoken by all humans who have ever lived on earth would fit in only five exabytes. Regardless of an exabyte being this big, there are other units bigger than it, like a zettabyte, which is equal to 1000 exabytes, and a yottabyte, equal to 1,000,000 exabytes.
Several years ago, an exabyte was used only theoretically, meaning that even all the data in the world was less than an exabyte. However, in 2006, the world produced 161 exabytes of data annually, and in 2020, 2.5 exabytes per day.
It is estimated that data production will reach 463 exabytes every day by 2025. As data production increases, exabytes are likely to become even more common. Even if an exabyte may be too much for use at a personal level, it will become a better-known storage unit in most companies.
A gigabyte is a data storage unit equal to 1,000,000,000 bytes. This is the most common storage unit currently used in storage devices. Most phones or computers you buy today are gigabytes, although some are terabytes. Compared to an exabyte, a gigabyte is way smaller. You can fit 1,000,000,000 gigabytes in an exabyte.
A gigabyte is made from the Greek word gigas, which means giant. Given that a billion bytes are in a gigabyte, it makes sense to call it a giant byte. You can store 250 photos or 50,000 emails without attachments in a gigabyte. Nevertheless, the gigabyte isn’t the largest storage unit. Other units, such as terabytes, exabytes, and petabytes, among others, are bigger than it.
A gigabyte isn’t to be confused with a gibibyte (GiB). A gigabyte is used in decimal notation, equal to 1,000,000,000 bytes, while a gibibyte is used in binary notation. A gibibyte is equal to 1,073,741,824 bytes.
In the early computing days, people talked about gigabytes when imagining what would happen. In the 1980s, IBM released the first 1GB hard disk. This hard disk looked so big that people imagined they wouldn’t need anything bigger. However, with more data production, the gigabyte stopped looking so big, and by early 2000, they were already talking about terabytes.
In addition to storage and file sizes, gigabytes measure how much information is traveled over the internet. Gigabytes are also used to determine the amount of data used to stream or download over the internet. For instance, you can have a 5-hour video chat using one gigabyte of data. However, this may vary based on your video quality and cellular data provider.
Exabyte (EB) vs. Gigabyte (GB): What’s the Difference?
Capacity is the main difference between an exabyte vs. a gigabyte. It takes 1,000,000,000,000 gigabytes to form an exabyte. Nevertheless, there is more to gigabytes and exabytes than numbers and letters. Here are more differences between these two units of measurement.
Exabyte Real-World Examples
To help you better understand exabytes, below are examples of scenarios where they are used in the real world.
In Data Storage by Large Companies
Since an exabyte is a huge data storage unit, it is more than we need for personal data. However, large companies with big data use exabytes to store their information. Even these large companies only use double-digit exabytes to store their data.
The term exabyte economy came up after the government of the United Arabe Emirates was directed to find some trends that will be part of the global economy in the next few years. The commission was supposed to create a Future Possibilities Report; in that 2020 report, the first item was the exabyte economy. They predicted that in the next few years, a lot of personal and business data will be produced and will need exabytes to store and carry data around.
It is estimated that if all the words spoken by all the people who have ever lived in the world were stored in a digital storage device, they would occupy only 5 exabytes.
Gigabyte Real-World Examples
Some of the places where gigabytes are used include:
Most of the games that you may download or install are in gigabytes. For instance, an average Nintendo Switch Game may be as much as 30 gigabytes, while an average Playstation 5 game has about 100-200 gigabytes.
Most digital devices have their storage capacities measured in gigabytes, from phones to laptops to external storage devices like flash drives, CDs, and hard disks. Although there are others whose storage is in a terabyte, gigabytes are the most common unit, especially in smartphones.
Most people in the photography industry use storage devices such as memory cards measured in gigabytes. Given a gigabyte can hold up to 250 standard-quality photos, a storage device of several gigabytes is big enough to serve photography needs.
Cloud storage companies such as Google also use gigabytes to provide storage. For instance, Google offers 15 GB free for every Google account. Any storage device that you buy from Google is also measured in gigabytes.
Exabytes and gigabytes are units of measurement for data storage. The primary difference between exabytes vs. gigabytes is an exabyte can hold much more data than a gigabyte. A gigabyte is used to store personal data, whereas only large companies use exabytes. Since data production is still rising, exabytes will become a more common storage unit in the next few years.
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