Exabyte (EB) vs. Megabyte (MB): Size and Difference Explained

Petabyte (PB) vs Gigabyte (BG)

Exabyte (EB) vs. Megabyte (MB): Size and Difference Explained

Byte is the unit of memory size. It is the smallest unit of memory we use in modern computing. Bytes combine to form larger memory units, such as exabytes, megabytes, and gigabytes. For example, when comparing exabytes vs. megabytes, the former is larger. Similarly, gigabytes are larger than megabytes.

A byte has eight bits. Each byte encodes a single number, symbol, or letter. There are eight types of bytes, ranging from kilobytes and megabytes to terabytes and exabytes.

For example, a single byte is composed of eight bits. 1024 bytes then make a kilobyte, and 1024 kilobytes comprise a megabyte. The same goes for larger units.

Of these byte types, exabytes and megabytes are two terms we commonly use. If you’ve ever downloaded a file on your computer or a song on your phone, you must have seen the ‘MB’ sign in front of a digit. It indicates megabytes or the total memory size of the media you’re downloading.

In this guide, we make an exabyte vs. megabyte comparison to help you understand the difference between both units. We also compare their examples in the real world.

Exabyte (EB) vs. Megabyte (MB): Side-by-Side Comparison 

Features ExabyteMegabyte 
Bytes1018bytes 1,048,576 bytes
Symbols EBMB
FollowsPetabyte Kilobyte
Followed By Zettabyte Gigabyte
Gigabyte 1 billion gigabytes 1/1024th of a gigabyte

Exabyte (EB) vs. Megabyte (MB): What’s the Difference? 

The exabyte vs. megabyte comparison is not limited to their capacity. Each unit has more to it than just numbers and letters. They are used in different applications and have various data storage and transfer implications. Let’s look at them in detail.

Exabyte Explained

An exabyte is a large unit of memory storage. It contains a billion gigabytes or 1,000 petabytes of memory. If you measure the exabyte vs. megabyte difference, one exabyte equals 1,099,511,627,776 megabytes. According to some technologists, all the words humans have spoken since the dawn of time can be stored in just five exabytes.

Exabyte follows petabyte, which is equal to 1,000 terabytes. While a petabyte comprises half the content of all research libraries in the US, a terabyte would constitute all X-rays in a hospital.

The International System of Units is responsible for naming and quantifying units. Per their denotation, ‘exa’ is ten to the power 18. You’ll have to multiply ten by itself 17 times to arrive at an exabyte. That means one exabyte will equal 1000000000000000000 bytes.

That seems like a lot of numbers, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. Let’s explain this in terms of phone storage. Your smartphone most likely has a storage of 64GB. That’s only 0.0000000064 of an exabyte.

Suppose we assume that the size of Earth is one gigabyte. In comparison, an exabyte would be the Sun. To put this into perspective, the Sun’s diameter is 109 times wider than our planet.

If you started a video call 237,823 years ago, you could record a single exabyte today. That’s the amount of time homo sapiens first originated on Earth. 

Zoom vs. Skype — which is better?
If you started a video call at the beginning of human existence and ended it today, it could be stored in one exabyte.

©iStock.com/Vadym Pastukh

Megabyte Explained

A megabyte, abbreviated as MB or MByte, is equal to 1,048,576 bytes or then to the power of 16 bytes. Since a megabyte is smaller and more manageable than an exabyte, it is the standard storage unit we come across.

It measures images, videos, media files, text messages, etc. You’d also see megabytes in RAM (Random Access Memory) or ROM (Read-Only Memory). The common numerals used with MB are 8, 12, 16, 32, or 64. These figures refer to the number of megabytes in a device’s RAM.

Although megabytes measure files and documents, they can also describe the speed of a computer, like 8 MB/s (megabytes per second). The device can transfer or download 8MB of data in one second.

A megabyte also defines the size of a memory card used in digital cameras and mobile phones. For example, a 4GB card has about 4,000 MB of storage space. A 4MB file is approximately enough to store a high-resolution photograph. Meanwhile, a 4GB file would be a high-res movie.

A few-minute MP3 audio file or a ten-million-pixel image will take up a few megabytes in your camera or phone. As a rule of thumb, a minute of audio will take a single megabyte of storage. However, this is not always true. If the audio is compressed, it will take up less space. But if it is of high quality or has gone through extensive editing, it might take up more space. 

Exabyte: Real-World Examples

It becomes easy to understand the extent of a storage unit when you see it in action in real life. Since an exabyte is huge, you won’t see many examples of it around you. But that doesn’t mean these examples don’t exist. Here are some examples of instances where an exabyte is used.

Exabyte Economy

The UAE commissioned a Future Possibilities Report to identify trends that will share the global economy in the next few years, particularly till 2025. The report, made in collaboration with the United Nations, shed light on some emerging trends that will drive how we work, earn, and function in the future.

The first trend the report identified was the “exabyte economy.” As storage and computing power becomes more accessible and affordable, businesses and individuals will develop services and products that revolve around using data generated in exabytes. The roll-out and global adoption of 5G technology will further accelerate this process.

The UN estimated that connected devices and their data will drive an economic value of $8 trillion by 2025. It’s expected that as we create more data and new technology makes analyzing data easier, this value will likely rise significantly. The exabyte economy will constitute 5G technology, IoT, AI, and other emerging technologies. 

On average, an office uses about 20 megabytes of data daily for web surfing. If a 100-people office surfed the web for 57,077 years, they’d be able to reach the 1-exabyte limit.

These examples should explain the enormity of an exabyte. However, we’re getting close to using these large units on a daily basis. WeForum reports that the world will create 463 exabytes of data daily by 2025.

The spike in data creation is because of the exponential growth in technology. We already send 65 billion messages on Whatsapp every day and make five billion searches on search engines. Moreover, the world sends 294 billion emails daily and posts 500 million daily tweets.

With the advent of the Internet of Things, electric cars, and 5G networks, the amount of data will only increase. Therefore, exabytes will likely become a standard data storage unit in the coming years.

Quantification of Human Words

Another application of exabytes is in quantifying the number of words humans have spoken since they emerged on the planet. If we convert all the words the world has spoken since human beings first appeared, the total will be five exabytes.

However, if we digitize these words in 16 Khz 16-bit audio, their size will increase to 42,000 exabytes.

Big Data

Big data refers to large and complex datasets generated by businesses, organizations, and individuals regularly. It may be machine, transactional, or social data, depending on who is collecting it.

We create about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. Currently, there are 44 zettabytes of data in the digital world. That equals 44,000 exabytes.

Most of this data is user-generated. That means it’s generated from people browsing the internet, emailing each other, downloading apps, and streaming videos. Thus, it’s robust data since it gives insight into user behavior, trends, habits, interests, and demographics.

Businesses use this data to inform their decisions, develop new products and services, understand customer needs, and stay ahead of the competition.

Megabyte: Real-World Examples

It wouldn’t be an exabyte vs. megabyte comparison if we did not mention megabytes’ real-world applications. Here are some you are familiar with.

Cellular Data

One of the most well-known applications of megabytes is in the field of cellular data. Your monthly cell phone bill often includes a certain number of megabytes you are allotted for the month.

Whenever you use mobile data, you use megabytes. Let’s say you’re browsing the web. You’re using data that is in megabytes.

Do you need to send an email through Gmail? Again, you’re using megabytes. The same holds for listening to your favorite podcast or streaming a movie on Netflix. While text messages and emailing use fewer megabytes, videos and audio use more storage.

largest social media companies
When you use mobile data to browse the web or interact on social media, you use megabytes.


Digital Files

The digital files on your computer or smartphone are also in megabytes. Some examples of these files include photos, videos, documents, and music.

Let’s say you have a picture of your pet that you want to upload to Instagram or Facebook. The file size of this picture may be around 4 megabytes. But if it’s a video, it will take up more space. 

Documents are generally in kilobytes since they are usually small. But longer documents with images are in megabytes. Music files can range from a few megabytes to hundreds of them, depending on the length and quality of the file.

Data Transfer

Megabytes also come into play when transferring data from one device to another. Most cloud storage services list the amount of data you can upload or download in megabytes.

Similarly, when you’re uploading a video to YouTube or any other social media, you’ll see the size in megabytes. The download pane will show you numbers in megabytes when you download a mobile or a file from the Internet. One number will indicate the total MBs you’re downloading. The other will show the remaining MBs. 

Keeping these real-world examples in mind, if you look at exabyte vs. megabyte the latter is common due to its moderate size. The former is ideal for larger applications involving big data.

Frequently Asked Questions

How big is an exabyte?

An exabyte is equal to one billion gigabytes. However, it is not the largest storage unit. Zettabyte is larger than exabyte, and it is followed by yottabyte.

How big is a megabyte?

A megabyte of data has one million bytes. It is larger than a kilobyte but smaller than a gigabyte and terabyte. A single minute of an audio file is usually one megabyte, but it can be smaller than that if it is compressed.

What are the eight units of storage?

The smallest storage unit is a bit, representing a single pixel in a black-and-white picture. A byte comprises eight bits, representing a single character. A kilobyte is 1024 bytes, while a megabyte is 1024 kilobytes. Likewise, a gigabyte is 1024 megabytes, and a terabyte is 1024 gigabytes. A petabyte is 1024 terabytes and holds enough MP3 songs that they can play for 2000 years without any repetition. Units bigger than these standard units are exabytes, zettabytes, and yottabytes.

What is the basic unit of computing?

A byte is the basic unit of computing. A byte is a group of eight bits and can represent any character. The eight binary units consist of 0 or 1.

What is the smallest and largest unit of storage in computing?

The smallest unit of information is a bit, representing a single binary digit. Meanwhile, the largest unit is a yottabyte. It consists of a septillion bytes or a million trillion megabytes. Brontobyte and geopbyte are even larger than yottabytes, but there’s no chance of them existing yet. A brontobyte is 1,000 yottabytes or a 1 followed by 27 zeros. Meanwhile, a geopbyte is 1,000 brontobytes.

How many megabytes are in an exabyte?

There are 1,099,511,627,776 megabytes in an exabyte.

Do exabytes exist?

Yes, 64.2 zettabytes of data were captured, copied, and created in 2020. That translates to 64,200 exabytes. Although exabytes are not used in day-to-day applications, they make up big data and are widely used by businesses.

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