KB, GB, MB: What does it mean?


So I am starting a new feature, if you will, on Tuesdays I will come up with a non-nerdy definition of some sort of technology term or concept that I personally have botched in the past. Hopefully through my errors you will be able to have a better understanding of just what these things mean.

So this week KB, GB and MB. I have many times asked tech husband what is bigger? He always looks at me with the look that screams, “are you serious”? I supposed I should know. But the metric system and I are not really good friends. I do much better with inches, feet, etc. And while in theory the metric system is more standard it doesn’t work for me (kind of like Roman Numerals)

The first part to figure out is the B stands for Byte. Which is the standard unit of measure for digital information storage or transmission. I generally need to know this information when figuring out how big a picture, document, or hard drive is. And I can never remember which of the things is bigger and which is smaller. It is important to note that the B should be capital. It means something totally different if the letters are lowercase and is not what we are looking at today!

So now we know that the B is for Byte onto the K,M & G (and beyond!)

KB = Kilo = 1,000 = Kilobyte but generally 1,024 is considered the specific number of bytes

MB = Mega = 1,000,000 = Megabyte = 1,048,576 bytes generally for computer memory or 1,000,000 for computer storage

GB = Giga = 1,000,000,000 = Gigabyte pretty much the 1,000,000,000 is considered standard

But there are more!

TB = Tera = 1,000,000,000,000 = Terabyte (a common size hard drive you can find today

PB = Peta = 1,000,000,000,000,000 = Petabyte (random: Google processes about 24 petabytes of data per day)

EB = Exa = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 = Exabyte (random: As of March 2010, the global monthly Internet traffic is estimated to be 21 exabytes)

ZB = Zetta = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 = Zettabyte (random: Research from the University of California, San Diego reports that in 2008, Americans consumed 3.6 zettabytes of information)

YB = Yotta = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 = Yottabyte (for reference as of 2009 the entire Internet was estimated to contain close to 500 exabytes)

So the quick version is KB is smallest, followed by MB, GB, and TB and so on. But these are the ones you run into the most. Thanks to Wikipedia for the Random Facts for the reference on the different sizes!

One Response to KB, GB, MB: What does it mean?
  1. Susan Liddy
    August 25, 2010 | 5:56 pm

    I love it!
    Yeah… the metric system and me aren’t friends either.
    Great post.

    And, good to meet you last weekend at Bloggy Bootcamp!


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