If you’re like most people, you probably have an inkling as to what a megabyte is. However, what about a yottabyte? Is that even a real thing? The short answer is yes, and it’s a really big deal! In fact, a yottabyte (YB) is one of the largest computer storage units out there, while a megabyte (MB) is on the smaller end of the spectrum.
How much of a difference is there really between the two? Well, turns out they’re worlds apart. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of data storage and compare these two units to help you better understand just how massive a yottabyte really is.
Yottabyte (YB) vs. Megabyte (MB): Side-By-Side Comparison
|No of Bytes||1024 bytes||106 bytes|
|Coined||In 1991||In the Mid-1960s|
|Usage||Used for extremely large-scale data storage measurements||Used for smaller-scale data storage|
|Practicality||Not practical for most individuals or businesses||Common storage unit for everyday use|
Yottabyte (YB) vs. Megabyte (MB): What’s the Difference?
The yottabyte currently stands as the largest data storage unit we have. However, even larger units will likely come into use in the future as technology continues to advance. That’s not unfathomable, as only as recently as the early 2000s, a terabyte (now considered a relatively small amount of storage) was still a relatively new concept. That’s not to downplay the size of a yottabyte by any means — far from that. The yottabyte’s sheer storage capacity is actually unfathomable and beyond comprehension for just about anyone.
First, the prefix “yotta-” was first introduced in 1991 by the International System of Units (SI) as a way to represent one septillion (1024) of something. A yottabyte is, therefore, equivalent to 1024 bytes or 1 trillion terabytes!
To put that into perspective, if you were to store every book ever written in the history of mankind in digital form, it would take up space just north of 50 petabytes. A yottabyte could hold that amount of data 20 million times over! If you owned a yottabyte hard drive, you could store every single photo taken in human history (~20 trillion as of today) and still have ample space remaining. In fact, a yottabyte could accommodate over 200 quadrillion photos based on current quality and standards (~5 megabytes each).
Meanwhile, the megabyte is a much smaller data storage unit, but it still has its place in the world of computing. In fact, the megabyte was once considered a substantial amount of storage, but with the exponential growth of data, it’s now considered relatively small. To put it into perspective, a single megabyte can store roughly 500 pages of plain text.
This may seem small compared to a yottabyte, but for everyday tasks, a megabyte is more than sufficient. For example, an average song in MP3 format takes up around 3 or 4 megabytes, while a high-quality digital image can range from a few hundred kilobytes to several megabytes.
Yottabyte (YB) vs. Megabyte (MB): Real-World Uses
Of course, we use yottabytes and megabytes in very different contexts due to their vast differences in capacity and the types of devices they typically operate in.
Practical Uses of the Megabyte
Megabytes are arguably the basic building blocks of digital information in the present day, finding use in measuring relatively small sizes of just about everything. We use MBs to measure the size of documents, images, and songs as your computer or phone might show.
For instance, as we said, a 3-minute MP3 song takes up approximately 3 megabytes of storage space. So, if you had a 128-megabyte MP3 player, you could store over 40 songs on it. The same goes for Word documents, PDFs, and images taken on your smartphone. A single image taken with a smartphone camera can take up anywhere from 1 to 5 megabytes of space, depending on its quality and size. So, if you had a 256-megabyte storage card on your phone, you could store over 50 images.
We also still use megabytes to measure memory on some of our devices, such as RAM (Random Access Memory) on computers, especially old ones. The more RAM a computer has, the faster it can run, as it can store more data that it needs to access frequently. Today, people usually measure RAM in gigabytes (GB), but a couple of decades ago, the average computer had only 256 MB to 512 MB of RAM.
Megabytes are also used in the context of internet speed. Internet speed is typically measured in megabits per second (Mbps) or gigabits per second (Gbps). One megabit is equal to 0.125 megabytes, so a 100 Mbps internet connection would mean that you can download or upload data at a rate of 12.5 megabytes per second. Knowing this can help in things like streaming video, downloading large files, and online gaming.
Current Usage of the Yottabyte
While yottabytes are an impressive unit of storage, they do not have any real-world applications at the moment. They are more of a theoretical concept and a way to measure the ever-increasing storage capacity of digital devices.
Yottabytes have been utilized in theoretical discussions to estimate the amount of data generated and stored by data-intensive systems such as supercomputers and large-scale data centers used for scientific research. Such systems include the Square Kilometer Array, which is currently under construction, and the Large Hadron Collider.
When operational, the SKA will generate around four zettabytes of data annually, ranking it among the world’s largest data generators. So even though there are no real-world applications for yottabytes at present, the potential for its use in the future in data storage and processing as technology advances is intriguing to consider.
Yottabyte (YB) vs. Megabyte (MB): 7 Must-Know Facts
- A single yottabyte is equivalent to one trillion Terabytes, one quadrillion Gigabytes, or one quintillion megabytes.
- The entire world was estimated to have a data volume of 94 zettabytes as of 2022.
- As of 2022, one of the largest known storage systems in the world is the CERN Data Center, had a capacity of over 634 Petabytes.
- The average smartphone has a storage capacity of between 64 and 512 Gigabytes. This is equivalent to 6.4 x 10-14 to 5.12 x 10-13 yottabytes.
- In 2022, the world’s largest SSD drive was unveiled by Nimbus, with a capacity of 100 Terabytes. It would take 10 billion of these drives to reach a single yottabyte.
- The first commercially available hard drive was the IBM 350 Disk File. It had a storage capacity of just 3.75 megabytes and weighed over a ton.
- The growth of data storage capacity has been doubling every two years since the 1980s, a trend known as Moore’s Law.
Beyond Megabytes (MBs): The Future of Data Storage and Yottabytes (YBs)
It’s truly fascinating and remarkable to consider that we double the capacity of data storage every 2 to 3 years, as per Moore’s Law. This indicates our demand for more data storage is only expected to increase as we continue to create and store more data-intensive content. It’s possible that we may soon see the introduction of units of measurement even larger than the YB, as technology continues to evolve and expand.
This exponential growth in data is both exciting and daunting. Estimates suggest that in about a century, we’ll be creating a colossal 42YB of data annually. To put that into perspective, the current most efficient storage technology would require an amount of physical space equivalent to the size of a small country to store that much data.
Clearly, this level of growth will necessitate innovative data storage solutions to keep pace with the demands of the modern world. Fortunately, technology is evolving at an unprecedented rate. We can expect to see exciting developments in the field of data storage before we get there.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Blue Planet Studio/Shutterstock.com.