Visualizing Data Storage: Byte into Big Data (Part Two)

Mike Allen
October 08, 2014

"Following up on Visualizing Data Storage: Taking a Byte out of Space, we continue to examine the different options available in Data Storage. To get a better understanding we started with the basics: Bytes, Kilobytes, Megabytes and Gigabytes. Now it's onto the fun part - Big data measurements.

Examining Exabytes

If you remember from the previous article, data storage sizes begin with a Byte (B), which is equal to one alphanumeric character (A, B or C. A = 1B). This part of our study moves onto the much larger storage options available. First is an Exabyte (EB) which is equal to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 Bytes. Let's stop here for a second. Does that number really contain 18 zeros? Does anyone really have storage spaces that can hold that much information? Yes, they sure do and storage options keep growing at an alarmingly fast rate. With a number that big it may be difficult to actually visualize the vast amount of space that it represents. Let's dig deeper and compare it to every day figures. Picture this: One Exabyte of storage can contain about 50,000 year's worth of continuous video. That is so much data, that a group of 5,000 people would not be able to watch that many movies in theirentire lives. 5,000 people each are watching a different movie every hour of their life, until their last breath. Gives a whole new meaning to ""Waiting to Exhale.""

Making Room for Zettabytes

If you thought Exabytes were big- you are absolutely correct but we aren't done yet. Next is the Zettabyte. A Zettabyte (ZB) is equal to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Bytes (21 zeros!). According to the International Data Corporation, the total amount of data in the world in 2012 was estimated to be just over 2 Zettabytes. Still struggling to picture the capacity at which a Zettabyte can hold? Don't worry you are not alone. The numbers are massive! Here's an interesting figure that may help: Mark Lieberman, a professor working in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania (AKA a very smart man) calculated that if we required a storage space large enough to fit all human speech that has ever been spoken, it require about 42 Zettabytes. That's a brain numbing amount of space and likely debilitating for those of us who don't care for the gift of gab.

Yotta who?

As data continues to increase, so do our storage options. One Yottabyte (YB) is equal to a mind boggling 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Bytes (You counted right, that's 24 zeros). This space is equivalent to approximately 14.5 trillion 64GB iPhones, which is roughly 2100 iPhones for each person on the planet. To quantify that number'¦ understand that currently no system has yet achieved even one Yottabyte of storage to date. We currently have the ability to store that amount of information once it is achieved however it comes with a large price tag. For 1YB of storage it will cost about $100 Trillion dollars. Pocket change right? Putting that cost into perspective; at any given time today there is only about 1.2 Trillion U.S. Dollars floating around the entire globe in the form of currency and coin. The government could sell 1YB of space and pay off the national debt 5 ½ times. So, for something to cost 100 Trillion dollars is astronomical and helps to quantify just how big of a deal a Yottabyte of space really is. It's safe to assume that as we approach this epic amount of storage we will also have mastered a method of the force similar to that of the most renowned and powerful Jedi Masters.

Regardless of whether you have a small amount or a large amount of data, it appears there will always be enough storage to support it. Now that you understand the technology lingo, hopefully you will find it easier to understand and quantify your storage requirements.

Understanding the different storage options is great but its only part of the equation. Have you thought about what is in store for our future? As data continues to be gathered in innovative ways and continues to expand rapidly the technology industry worldwide is contemplating what is beyond the Yottabyte.

Check back with us for Part Three of our series where we investigate what's planned for our storage in the future and how we can prepare for it."



    Mike Allen

    "Following up on Visualizing Data Storage: Taking a Byte out of Space, we continue to examine the different options available in Data Storage. To get a better understanding we started with the basics: Bytes, Kilobytes, Megabytes and Gigabytes. Now it's onto the fun part - Big data measurements. Examining Exabytes ...