I had a discussion the other day with a partner of ours who asked me about backing up exabytes of data and how local premise-based networking wasn’t keeping up with storage and processors (Kryder’s law and Moore’s law – although Kryder’s law is pretty discredited in my opinion – the federal push years ago of MTRC resulted in some pretty high growth rates in storage but we’ve seen those slow down in the last few years.

I had remembered in my reading an old Cal Berkley paper (2003); the table from it is reproduced below.


How Big is an Exabyte?

Kilobyte (KB)

1,000 bytes OR 103bytes
2 Kilobytes: A Typewritten page.
100 Kilobytes: A low-resolution photograph.

Megabyte (MB)

1,000,000 bytes OR 106 bytes
1 Megabyte: A small novel OR a 3.5 inch floppy disk.
2 Megabytes: A high-resolution photograph.
5 Megabytes: The complete works of Shakespeare.
10 Megabytes: A minute of high-fidelity sound.
100 Megabytes: 1 meter of shelved books.
500 Megabytes: A CD-ROM.

Gigabyte (GB)

1,000,000,000 bytes OR 109 bytes
1 Gigabyte: a pickup truck filled with books.
20 Gigabytes: A good collection of the works of Beethoven.
100 Gigabytes: A library floor of academic journals.

Terabyte (TB)

1,000,000,000,000 bytes OR 1012 bytes
1 Terabyte: 50000 trees made into paper and printed.
2 Terabytes: An academic research library.
10 Terabytes: The print collections of the U.S. Library of Congress.
400 Terabytes: National Climactic Data Center (NOAA) database.

Petabyte (PB)

1,000,000,000,000,000 bytes OR 1015 bytes
1 Petabyte: 3 years of EOS data (2001).
2 Petabytes: All U.S. academic research libraries.
20 Petabytes: Production of hard-disk drives in 1995.
200 Petabytes: All printed material.

Exabyte (EB)

1,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes OR 1018 bytes
2 Exabytes: Total volume of information generated in 1999.
5 Exabytes: All words ever spoken by human beings.