Zettabyte (ZB) vs. Gigabyte (GB): Size and Difference Explained


Zettabyte (ZB) vs. Gigabyte (GB): Size and Difference Explained

Are you confused about the differences between zettabytes vs. gigabytes? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In today’s world, data is constantly being created and stored, making it essential to understand the difference between these two units of measurement.

As technology continues to advance, the need for more data storage will continue to grow. It’s essential to understand the difference between these two units of measurement to effectively manage and store data.

This article will delve further into the distinctions between zettabytes vs. gigabytes and examine how they can be practically applied in real-world scenarios.

Zettabyte (ZB) vs. Gigabyte (GB): Side-By-Side Comparison

Bytes1,180,591,620,717,400,000,00 bytes1,073,741,824 bytes
PopularityUncommon, only used in large-scale organizationsWidely used in various personal devices and small-scale applications
CostCost-prohibitive for all but the largest organizationsRelatively affordable even for individuals
File SizeCan store billions of high-resolution images, videos, and dataCan store a few thousand high-resolution images or a few hours of HD videos

Zettabyte (ZB) vs. Gigabyte (GB): What’s the Difference?

In the world of digital storage, data is measured in various units, from bytes to terabytes. However, new units like zettabytes have emerged with the exponential growth in data creation and consumption. As a result, many people are confused about the size and difference between zettabytes vs. gigabytes.

Let’s delve into the details of zettabyte vs. gigabyte, explaining their sizes and differences to help you understand them better.

An Explanation of Zettabyte (ZB)

Zettabyte is a measurement unit that describes the storage capacity of a computer. It is equal to 2 to 70th powers or 1 sextillion bits. The International Electrotechnical Commission determines this measurement and other metric amounts. It also sets standards for technology, including computer storage.

Binary form is used to measure zettabytes. This is the language that computers use to understand and synthesize information. Binary is made up groups of digits which are either one or zero in combinations of 8 sets. These combinations correspond to different letters and characters.

Zettabytes can be used to describe large data. This includes unstructured and structured data that is collected at high speeds every day. Big data systems often use artificial intelligence to analyze large amounts of information and perform actions such as decision-making, translation, speech recognition, pattern recognition or machine learning.

It is expected that 175-200 zettabytes worth of data will be stored by 2025. It will require a combination cloud, flash, tape, and disk to store all of this data.

An Explanation of GB (Gigabyte)

A gigabyte, a measurement unit used in information technology, is used to measure the storage capacity of media or the file size. Mobile phone companies also use it to indicate monthly data volumes. The prefix “giga,” which equates to 109 in the SI, comes from the Greek word gigas (“ghigas”) which means “giant.”

One GB is approximately one billion bytes. One byte is the smallest amount of data in digital technology. Eight bits make up a byte, which is the smallest unit used for binary communication by computers. Megabytes are no longer the standard unit for measuring storage media.

Gigabytes can be used to indicate file sizes, or the storage capacity for USB sticks, external hard drives and CD-ROMs. The monthly data volume of mobile phone providers is indicated in gigabytes. Cloud providers use this unit to calculate storage costs. A gigabyte can be measured in terabytes (TB). This is 1,000 GB.

However, although there are important differences, gigabytes can also be used to measure data transmission speed and random-access memory (RAM). One GB is equal to 1,073,741,824 (230) bytes. This is more than one billion bytes.

To avoid confusion with the binary prefix, the International Electrotechnical Commission recommends that you use the metric prefix gibi rather than giga. The GB term is still used depending on context. Computer networking companies use the SI prefix gibi (GiB) for their SI units. Software and filing systems categorize file sizes using binary and SI unit combinations such as GB and GiB.

One gigabyte of data can be translated into approximately 10 yards of books, more than 50K emails (with no attachments), 5 Hours of video chat, 350+ minute YouTube videos, 250 Spotify songs, and 500+ minutes of video chat.

Zettabyte: Real-World Examples

The enormity of a zettabyte can be better understood by exploring its applications in various fields. Cloud storage, social media, and scientific research are some of the domains where zettabytes may be utilized. Worldwide data volume in 2022 was 97ZB, so there are currently few uses for zettabytes. However, the volume is growing rapidly. Examining practical uses of zettabytes can provide a clearer picture of its size and significance.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage services have become increasingly popular in recent years, providing a convenient way to store and access data from anywhere. A zettabyte is enough data to store over 200 billion DVDs or more than 250 million years of high-quality music.

Cloud storage providers such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive, store and manage billions of files, photos, and videos on behalf of their customers.

According to a report by Synergy Research Group, the worldwide cloud market is expected to surpass $300 billion by 2025, with data center operators increasingly focusing on the development of large-scale cloud infrastructure capable of storing and processing zettabytes of data. Some scientists speculate that just the data stored in the cloud could reach as high as 100 zettabytes by 2025.

By 2025, global data storage may exceed 200 zettabytes.

©Monster Ztudio/Shutterstock.com

Social Media

Social media platforms are generating vast amounts of data every day. A zettabyte is enough data to store more than 2.5 billion years of Instagram photos or over 10,000 years of Facebook video. Facebook, the world’s largest social network, has over 2.8 billion active users, with over 1 billion daily active users.

With such a large user base, Facebook generates significant data, including photos, videos, and user interactions. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat also generate large volumes of data daily. Social media data has become an essential source of information for businesses, governments, and researchers looking to understand consumer behavior, sentiment analysis, and social trends.

Scientific Research

Scientific research generates vast data, from particle accelerators to DNA sequencing machines. A zettabyte is enough data to store over 20 years of high-quality MRI scans or more than 50,000 years of high-resolution satellite images. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the world’s largest particle accelerator, produces petabytes of data every second. To put this into perspective, a zettabyte is 1,000 times bigger than an exabyte, which is 1 million petabytes.

The Human Genome Project, which aimed to map the entire human genome, generated over 30 terabytes of data. Researchers use these large datasets to gain insights into fundamental questions about the universe and the nature of life itself.

Gigabyte: Real-World Examples

Examining real-world examples is a way to better understand the size and scope of a gigabyte. To demonstrate this further, here are some examples of how a gigabyte is commonly used. These examples help to contextualize the magnitude of a gigabyte.

Storage Capacity

A gigabyte is a unit of digital information that equals 1 billion bytes. Digital devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets use it to describe their storage capacity. For example, a typical computer hard drive can store anywhere from 250GB to 2TB (terabytes) of data, which equates to 250 billion to 2 trillion bytes of information.

To put this into perspective, 1GB of storage can hold up to 250 songs, 4 hours of HD video, or 1,000 photos. This means that a 250GB hard drive can store up to 62,500 songs, 1,000 hours of HD video, or 250,000 photos. Similarly, a 2TB hard drive can store up to 500,000 songs, 8,000 hours of HD video, or 2 million photos.

Downloading and Streaming

People use gigabytes to describe the amount of data that they download or stream over the internet. For example, a 2-hour HD movie can take up to 4GB of storage space, while a 1-hour standard definition (SD) TV show can take up to 1GB of storage space. If you want to download a season of your favorite TV show with 10 episodes, you may need up to 10GB of storage space.

In terms of streaming, services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video offer video quality options ranging from SD to HD to 4K Ultra HD. Each option uses a different amount of data per minute of video, with SD using the least amount of data, followed by HD and then 4K Ultra HD.

For example, one hour of SD video streaming can use up to 1GB of data, while one hour of HD video streaming can use up to 3GB of data, and one hour of 4K Ultra HD video streaming can use up to 7GB of data.

Television streaming, multimedia streaming
An hour of HD video streaming can use up to 3GB of data.



Digital cameras and smartphones also use gigabytes to describe the storage capacity of their memory cards. For example, a typical 32GB memory card can hold up to 8,000 photos taken with a 12-megapixel camera, which is the standard for most smartphones. Similarly, a 64GB memory card can hold up to 16,000 photos, and a 128GB memory card can hold up to 32,000 photos.

Additionally, the size of each photo can vary depending on its resolution. For example, a high-resolution photo taken with a professional camera can be up to 10MB in size. In comparison, a lower-resolution photo taken with a smartphone can be as small as 2MB in size. This means that a 32GB memory card can hold up to 3,200 high-resolution photos, while a 128GB memory card can hold up to 12,800 high-resolution photos.


People also use gigabytes to describe the size of video games, which can consume a significant amount of storage space on a computer or gaming console. For example, a typical AAA (triple-A) game can take up anywhere from 50GB to 100GB of storage space. This means that if you want to have a collection of 10 games, you may need up to 1TB of storage space on your hard drive.

Additionally, game developers often release updates and downloadable content (DLC) for their games, which can also take up a significant amount of storage space. For example, an update for a game can be anywhere from 1GB to 10GB in size.

Video Editing

People commonly use gigabytes to describe the storage capacity of a computer or hard drive for video editing. Video files, especially those shot in high resolution or with numerous visual effects, can be very large.

For example, a 5-minute video shot in 4K resolution can take up to 20GB of storage space. If you are working on a longer project, you may need several gigabytes of storage space available to store your raw footage, project files, and exported videos.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive also use gigabytes to describe the amount of storage space available to their users. For example, a typical free account on Google Drive offers 15GB of storage space, while a paid account can offer up to 2TB of storage space. Similarly, a typical free account on Dropbox offers 2GB of storage space, while a paid account can offer up to 3TB of storage space.

These cloud storage services are becoming increasingly popular for people who need to access their files and data from multiple devices, such as a computer, smartphone, or tablet. By storing their files in the cloud, users can access them from anywhere with an internet connection, and they don’t have to worry about running out of storage space on their local devices.

Zettabyte (ZB) vs. Gigabyte (GB): Size and Difference Explained FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is a zettabyte?

A zettabyte (ZB) is a digital storage unit representing one sextillion bytes, or one trillion gigabytes. It is the second largest digital storage unit and is often used to measure the data being created globally.

What is a gigabyte?

A gigabyte (GB) is a digital storage unit representing one billion bytes. It is a common unit used to measure the storage capacity of personal computers, hard drives, and other storage devices.

What is the difference between a zettabyte and a gigabyte?

The main difference between a zettabyte and a gigabyte is the amount of data that they can store. A zettabyte can store 1,180,591,620,717,400,000,00 bytes of data, while a gigabyte can store only 1,073,741,824 bytes of data. This means that a zettabyte is much larger than a gigabyte and can store much more data.

What is the largest unit of digital storage?

The largest unit of digital storage is a yottabyte (YB), which represents one septillion bytes. A zettabyte is the second-largest unit of digital storage.

How much data is created globally each year?

It is estimated that the world created around 59 zettabytes of data in 2020, 74 zettabytes in 2021, and 97 zettabytes in 2022. annually. This number is expected to grow to 175-200 zettabytes by 2025.

What are some examples of things that use zettabytes of data?

The entire world only generated 97ZB in 2022, so only the largest enterprise organizations currently use ZB. However, services that use a great deal of data such as social media, streaming services like Netflix, and cloud storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive will soon be using ZB regularly.

Can a personal computer hold a zettabyte of data?

No, a personal computer cannot hold a zettabyte of data. The largest personal computer hard drive currently available is around 20 terabytes, which is 0.00000002% of a zettabyte.

What is the future of digital storage?

As data creation continues to grow, the need for larger and more efficient forms of digital storage will become increasingly important. New technologies like DNA storage and quantum computing are being developed to address this need, and even larger units of digital storage will likely be created in the future.

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