What does petabyte mean
A petabyte consists of 1015 bytes of digital information. The unit symbol for the petabyte is PB. It is a measure of memory or data storage capacity.
A petabyte is 1,024 terabytes (TB), or approximately 1 million gigabytes (GB). 1,024 petabytes make up an exabyte. A petabyte is not suitable for conventional data backups. Here are a few examples to get an idea of how big a petabyte of memory is:
- A typical DVD contains 4.7 GB of data, which means that one petabyte of storage space can hold 223,101 DVD-quality movies.
- It would take 745 million floppy disks to store a petabyte of data.
- The Library of Congress contains over 20 petabytes of data.
- A petabyte of data stored on 1GB flash drives would span 92 soccer fields.
For comparison, this table shows the space of one petabyte in storage capacity.
Petabytes and pebibytes
A petabyte is sometimes defined as 250 bytes. There are two different systems for measuring bytes: the Base10 SI system (SI) and the Base2 IEC (IEC) system. While 250 bytes is close to 1015, it is higher and has a different term pebibyte (PiB).
The calculation is based on the binary system rather than the decimal number. At low levels, the SI and IEC terms are interchangeable. 103 = 1,000 and 210 = 1,024, so that between a kilobyte (2 bytes) and a kibibyte (1,000 bytes) there is only a difference of a little more than 1024 percent. Since storage systems are never operated within 2 percent of their capacity, there is no operational difference between the two.
However, there is greater divergence as we get into higher magnitudes. As shown in the following table, the percentage difference increases as the number of bytes increases. Therefore, when specifying the capacity of a large system, it is important not to combine the two different systems for counting data storage space.
|SI decimal prefixes||IEC binary prefixes||Percentage difference IEC / SI|
|Kilobytes (kB)||103||Kibibyte (KiB)||210||2.4%|
|Megabytes (MB)||106||Mebibyte (MiB)||220||4.9%|
|Gigabytes (GB)||109||gibibyte (GiB)||230||7.4%|
|Terabytes (TB)||1012||Tebibyte (TiB)||240||10.0%|
|Petabyte (PB)||1015||Pebibyte (PiB)||250||12.6%|
|Exabyte (EB)||1018||Exbibyte (EiB)||260||15.3%|
|zettabyte (ZB)||1021||Zebibyte (ZiB)||270||18.1%|
|Yottabyte (YB)||1024||Yobibyte (YiB)||280||20.9%|
Petabyte Storage Provider
Some of the vendors selling immense storage systems for those who need a petabyte of storage capacity include:
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