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What Is a Terabyte?

A terabyte (TB) is a measurement of data storage capacity. It is the equivalent of
1,024 gigabytes (GB). The term is often used in reference to hard disk drives, which acts as the “brain” of the computer and carry all the important files and programs, as well as the operating system itself.

Just 30 years ago the idea of a terabyte was impossible. At that time a typical
home computer system only had the data storage capacity of approximately 20 megabytes (MB). This quadrupled by the 1990s to 80 MBs.

However, developments in software pushed the data storage requirements to hundreds of megabytes. By 2005 it was typical for computers to have gigabytes of information. The gigabytes allow computer users to run the most sophisticated programs, and handle the data requirements of larger video, music and graphic files. They also enable ordinary homes to have paint, photo and desktop publishing programs. Even computer games started having very vivid, life-like images, which of course would need larger amounts of computer memory to run.

The good news is that the cost of hard drives have dropped considerably, allowing users to invest independent storage drives that can back up information and improve a computer’s performance. By networking these drives the user can easily surpass the 1 terabyte threshold—that’s 1 million megabytes equals a terabyte, or over one trillion bytes (1,099,511,627,776 to be exact).

Amazingly, the terabyte is not the largest unit of measurement. A petabyte is composed of 1,024 terabytes. That’s a lot of memory!

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