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Odds are, your smartphone, tablet, gaming console, and computer — both desktop and laptop — hold hundreds of gigabytes of digital storage. While some versions of these electronic devices have begun offering larger amounts of storage, somewhere in the single-digit terabyte range, most remain planted firmly in the realm of gigabytes. But what about beyond that? What kind of units of information exist past the gigabyte in the digital world? To get a better idea, let’s explain the size and difference of the yottabyte (YB) vs gigabyte (GB).

Yottabyte (YB) vs Gigabyte (GB): Side-by-Side Comparison

Bytes1,208,925,819,614,629,174,706,176 bytes1,073,741,824 bytes
Gigabytes1,125,899,906,842,624 gigabytes1 gigabyte
SymbolsYB, YiBGB, GiB
Followed ByBrontobyteTerabyte

Yottabyte (YB) vs Gigabyte (GB): What’s the Difference?

As you can plainly see above, the yottabyte is a whole lot bigger than the gigabyte. In fact, it’s hardly even close when looking at the two side by side. The yottabyte far surpasses the gigabyte, and by a very drastic margin.

But what exactly are these individual units of information for? Where did they come from, and what are they all about? Let’s examine the definitions of the yottabyte (YB) vs gigabyte (GB) below.

Yottabyte Explained

With the invention of each new internet-enabled device, the sale of every new consumer electronic with online functionality, and the annual release of new smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, and computers, there comes an increased amount of virtual data in need of storage space. With this ever-increasing demand, the yottabyte was born.

According to backup vendor Backblaze Inc., a yottabyte of storage would take up a data center the size of Delaware and Rhode Island. 


Oddly enough, the yottabyte was first introduced as a joke. Back in 1991, when a few dozen exabytes was the most amount of storage computer scientists could even fathom, someone suggested the yottabyte as a future unit of information beyond the exabyte and the subsequent zettabyte — should it ever be needed, that is.

As it turned out, the yottabyte would need to be used… even if that time didn’t come until decades later. Today, the world generates an average of 2.5 quintillion bytes — or 1,000 petabytes, or one single exabyte — of data per day. That came out to around 30 zettabytes in 2018 alone. If that number continues to rise, as it has so far, we’ll be generating yottabytes of annual data in no time.

To put that in terms of bytes, that’s more than 30 sextillion bytes every year — and growing. Slowly but surely, computer scientists expect to see us reach yottabytes of data in the very near future. That 30-something zettabytes from 2018? It already doubled to over 60 zettabytes in 2020.

If the world’s data continues to swell at the rate it has been growing, experts very reasonably expect to see those numbers rise to 175 zettabytes by the year 2025. At this rate, the yottabyte is practically within sight on the horizon.

Gigabyte Explained

It’s not hard to tell that the gigabyte is much, much smaller than the yottabyte. The two are practically on polar opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to units of information in the digital world. This difference in sizing is a lot easier to understand when looking at decimal notation over binary notation.

The binary notation has long been the standard in the realm of computer science, but with such unfathomable numbers — one yottabyte equals 1,208,925,819,614,629,174,706,176 bytes; one gigabyte equals 1,073,741,824 bytes — it’s not hard to understand why computer scientists are pushing for an industry-wide embrace of the decimal notation.

In decimal form, all of these jumbled numbers are reduced to units of ten. Thus, in decimal notation, a gigabyte is equivalent to a billion bytes. Or, to put it another way, a gigabyte is equivalent to a thousand megabytes. It’s as simple as that. (As we know from above, a yottabyte is equivalent to a septillion bytes or a million trillion megabytes.)

Just as binary notation dubs the yottabyte the “yobibyte,” the binary notation of the gigabyte is dubbed the “gibibyte.” Likewise, similar to the “YiB” abbreviation, the gibibyte is abbreviated as “GiB.” This industry-wide shift toward binary notation in the world of computer science is driven by the hope that these names will help keep the decimal and binary notations separate.

data structure
The memory capacity of the brain is around 2.5 million gigabytes of digital memory.


In the 1980s, the gigabyte was the biggest conceivable unit of information in the history of computing. When IBM released the first 1 GB hard drive, it was hard to imagine computers exceeding this milestone in units of information. However, with the standardization of the yottabyte, the gigabyte looks a lot less exceptional today.

Yottabyte: Real-World Examples

With these explanations of the yottabyte (YB) vs gigabyte (GB) out of the way, it’s a good idea to try and frame our understanding of these units of information using real-world examples of each. Let’s start with the bigger unit of information, the yottabyte.

The NSA Data Center

While the world’s data likely won’t reach the yottabyte for a number of years, it’s not outlandish for some experts to assume that the NSA’s massive data center has more than a yottabyte of information at its disposal.

Granted, because it’s a top-secret agency dedicated to the collection, monitoring, processing, and tracking of data and information both foreign and domestic, it’s not likely we’ll ever get a confirmation on just how much data the NSA actually has. Nevertheless, it seems reasonable to assume that number has exceeded 1,000,000,000,000,000 gigabytes.

Global Data Volumes

Bouncing off of this real-world example, we have the predicted global data volumes in the years to come. As we observed in the previous section, annual global data volumes are expected to hit 175 zettabytes by 2025.

At this rate — 30 zettabytes in 2018, 60 in 2020, and 175 in 2025 — it seems relatively safe to assert that global data volumes will exceed one yottabyte annually in the early 2030s. With the data generated by social media and IoT (Internet of Things) devices, we could feasibly get there even sooner than that.

Gigabyte: Real-World Examples

With the yottabyte contextualized with a couple of real-world examples, let’s now do the same for the gigabyte. Thankfully, this unit of information is a whole lot more common — and a whole lot more comprehensible — than the gargantuan yottabyte.


From the PlayStation 5 to the Xbox Series X to the Nintendo Switch to the PC, today’s video games take up a good deal of gigabytes. Of course, just how many gigabytes will vary depending on the console or platform of your choosing. For instance, Nintendo Switch games typically weigh in under 30 gigabytes or so.

PS5 games, by comparison, measure up to be far larger than Switch games. These days, your average PS5 game will eat up anywhere from 100 to 200 gigabytes in all. PC games can be even larger, with some far surpassing 200 gigabytes in total. This size will likely continue to grow as games grow more complex.

Home Video

Jumping off this, home video formats present another opportunity to encounter the gigabyte. Naturally, just how many gigabytes will depend on what kind of home video format you’re using. DVDs, the most basic home video format used today, range between 4 and 8 gigabytes.

Blu-rays and 4K UHD discs are much bigger by comparison. The average Blu-ray holds around 25 to 50 gigabytes on average. Your average 4K UHD disc, on the other hand, can hold as much as 100 gigabytes. It will be interesting to see what comes next in line, though 4K UHD discs — first introduced in 2016 — are still relatively new.

Yottabyte (YB) vs Gigabyte (GB): Size and Difference Explained FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the smallest unit of information in computing?

The smallest unit of information in computing is the byte, which is equivalent to eight bits. One bit is a single binary digit, which represents either zero (0) or one (1).

What is the largest unit of information in computing?

According to the latest standards, the yottabyte is the largest unit of information in computing. It is equivalent to 1,000,000,000,000,000 gigabytes, or a septillion bytes.

There are larger units that have been conceptualized, such as the brontobyte, but they are yet to be officially standardized by the field of computer science.

What's bigger, a yottabyte or a zettabyte?

A yottabyte is larger than a zettabyte. To be specific, one yottabyte is equivalent to a thousand zettabytes.

How many bytes are in a gigabyte?

There are one billion bytes in a gigabyte. This translates to a thousand megabytes in a single gigabyte.

What's the difference between a yottabyte and a yobibyte?

A yottabyte describes one septillion bytes decimal notation. A yobibyte, by comparison, describes a septillion bytes in binary notation.

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