Data FIle Sizes

Written by Chris Powell

A while back I discussed the importance of backing up your data files. I believe it’s important that we take a step back and review file sizes and how much data storage space you will actually need to successfully store your data. Caution: nerdy terms up ahead.

Byte – a standard unit of measuring computer data, comprised of eight bits. This usually is the amount equivalent to one character of text.

Kilobyte – 1,000 bytes. (Actually 1,024 bytes, but it’s easier to do math in your brain with 1,000.) A typical Microsoft Word document, with two pages of text, would approximately be 10 kilobytes or 10 KB.

Megabyte – 1,000 kilobytes, or 1,000,000 bytes. A picture taken with a modern smartphone would average 3 megabytes or 3 MB. One song in .MP3 format would average 4 megabytes or 4MB. One video taken with a modern smartphone would average 100 megabytes, or 100 MB, per minute.

Gigabyte – 1,000 megabytes, or 1,000,000 kilobytes.

Terabyte – 1,000 gigabytes, or 1,000,000 megabytes.

Petabyte – 1,000 terabytes, or 1,000,000 gigabytes.

There are bigger data sizes out there, but for this article, we’ll top out with petabytes.

Do you have a lot of Microsoft Word and Excel files? As shown above, you might not need as much storage needs as someone who has thousands of photos. Or someone who has an extensive music collection.


USB Drive



Let’s take a look at some storage solutions out there for purchase right now. This 3-pack of USB jump drives is taken from Costco’s website:

One of these drives will give you 16 gigabytes of data storage, or 16,000 megabytes. This means you could store over 5,300 photos. Or you could store approximately 4,000 songs on one drive. If an average CD album contains 12 songs, you could store roughly 330 albums from your collection on one USB drive.






Now this external hard drive, made by Western Digital, is from Newegg’s website:

With one terabyte (1,000 gigabytes) of storage, odds are you can store all of your family’s files, photos, and videos in one location and have plenty of space left over. Lots of available storage for not a lot of money.




When visiting the technology section of a retail store, we’re flooded with GB, TB, MB, USB, and many other acronyms. By learning what these terms mean, and becoming more aware of the personal and professional data we store on our computers, we can take one step closer towards a practical solution for protecting, and backing up, our files.

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