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Petabyte (PB) vs. Kilobyte (KB): Size and Difference Explained

# Petabyte (PB) vs. Kilobyte (KB): Size and Difference Explained

Wrapping our heads around the differences between technical computer terms and digital units can be annoying, especially since they aren’t physical like many other measurement units are. Because humans have continued to create, we are now constantly needing more and more digital storage units to keep up with the technological pace. One of the larger units that we use for this is the petabyte (PB), while one of the smallest is the kilobyte (KB). Now, we are going to compare petabytes vs. kilobytes to understand just how large they are, their differences, and what they are used for. With this purpose in mind, let’s get started.

## Petabyte (PB) vs. Kilobyte (KB): What Are They?

Petabytes and kilobytes, abbreviated PB and KB, are units used to measure digital storage capacity and amounts of data. In the same way that we use units to measure volume or length in the real world, we need digital units to measure volumes of data in the digital world.

For example, we might measure the size of a room in square feet or square meters, but the size of a county or state in square miles. In the same way that we have larger measurements for larger needs in the physical world, petabytes and kilobytes are just units for a specific measurement in the digital world.

In the digital world, petabytes are considered relatively large units of measurement, while kilobytes are considered small. By and large, the petabyte is currently one of the largest measurements that humans regularly use today. A petabyte is made up of 1000 terabytes, and each terabyte is made up of 1000 gigabytes, to reference a unit that is familiar to most people.

On the other hand, kilobytes have been used since the early days of computing and are still widely used to measure smaller amounts of data, although its usage is definitely becoming less common. “Kilo” simply means 1000 and represents 1000 bytes, just like how a kilometer represents 1000 meters.

## Petabyte (PB) vs. Kilobyte (KB): Their Sizes Compared to One Another

As shown above, a petabyte and a kilobyte are two very different units of measurement for digital storage, but they are used to measure the same type of data.

Above all, a petabyte is a vast amount of storage capacity, equivalent to 1,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. A kilobyte, however, is a pretty small unit of measurement, equivalent to 1,000 bytes. For reference, a single petabyte can store around 500 billion paper sheets filled with nothing but text. Basically, that amount of data could fill 20 million filling cabinets and is extraordinarily large. Conversely, a kilobyte can store the equivalent of a half sheet of paper in a text file. The difference between the two is rather… substantial.

## Petabyte (PB) vs. Kilobyte (KB): Real-World Comparison

Currently, petabytes are being used to measure huge amounts of data, although this is a recent occurrence. Many large organizations that specialize in data use petabytes to calculate their data needs overall. Accordingly, enterprise solutions, huge amounts of customer data, and massive digital content organizations are likely the only places where petabytes are reliably used. At the present time, the average buyer only has access to hard drives that are measured in terabytes, not petabytes.

Kilobytes are still used for measurements all the time, just not in the contexts that many individuals would recognize. Some of the most common digital items that are measured using kilobytes include emails, small text files, very small photos, bits of code and scripts (which are essentially text files), as well as a few others. Also, kilobytes are sometimes used as a way to measure the per-second download capacity of Wi-Fi networks, although most high-speed networks have moved on to megabytes and megabits in recent years. Still, older or slower networks still might measure things in kilobytes.

## Up Next:

How big is a petabyte?

A petabyte is a unit of digital data storage equivalent to 1 quadrillion (10^15) bytes.

How big is a kilobyte?

A kilobyte is a unit of digital data storage equivalent to 1000 bytes.

Are kilobytes or petabytes more commonly used?

Kilobytes are still commonly used as a unit to measure small files and elements like text files, while petabytes are so large they are almost exclusively used at the enterprise level.

What are petabytes used for?

Currently, petabytes are only reliably being used to measure huge amounts of data for large corporations.

#### Colby Maxwell, Author for History-Computer

Colby is a science and tech writer that fell in love with computers after he hacked his neighbor's wifi as a kid (and got in serious trouble). He primarily writes about science, new technology, and innovative concepts that have the potential to change the world, or let him game in 4k.