What is a gigabyte (GB)?

A gigabyte (GB) -- pronounced with two hard Gs -- is a unit of data storage capacity that is roughly equivalent to lớn 1 billion bytes. In decimal notation (base 10), a gigabyte is exactly 1 billion bytes. In binary notation (base 2), a gigabyte is equal lớn 230 bytes, or 1,073,741,824 bytes. Giga comes from a Greek word meaning giant. Werner Buchholz is credited with coining the term byte in 1956, while helping kiến thiết IBM"s 7030 Stretch, the first transistorized supercomputer.

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A gigabyte has been a common unit of capacity measurement for data storage products since the mid-1980s. In recent years, terabytes (TB) have become a more comtháng unit of storage capathành phố measurement, especially for hard disk drives (HDDs) và solid-state drives (SSDs).

Cloud providers & hardware vendors still often refer to storage capacity costs in terms of the amount per gigabyte, although that"s been slowly transitioning khổng lồ costs per terabyte. Today"s HDDs và flash SSDs can easily store hundreds of gigabytes of data or even thousands, which is why the TB label has been steadily replacing GB in many instances.

What is a gigabyte in simple terms?

A gigabyte is a specific unit of data that"s equal lớn about 1 billion bytes of data. The term gigabyte is typically used to describe the amount of stored data or the capathành phố of a storage device.

For example, an HDD might offer 500 GB of raw capacity but is currently storing only 200 GB of data. In addition lớn stored data, the gigabyte might also be used to refer to lớn the amount of transferred data or storage throughput.


The gigabyte, like most data measurements, is based on the byte, which is equal to 8 bits of data. A gigabyte is equivalent lớn the following standard measurements:

1,000,000,000 bytes (decimal) or 1,073,741,824 bytes (binary).

Data capathành phố measurements that are larger than a gigabyte include the following:

A terabyte is equal to lớn 1,000 gigabytes (decimal) or 1,024 gigabytes (binary). A petabyte is equal to lớn 1,000,000 gigabytes (decimal) or 1,048,576 gigabytes (binary). An exabyte is equal to lớn 1,000,000,000 gigabytes (decimal) or 1,073,741,824 gigabytes (binary).

Difference in how gigabytes are measured

The difference between the decimal amount & the binary amount has caused a fair amount of confusion among mỏi consumers, especially if they also come across such terms as kibibyte, mebibyte, gibibyte or tebibyte.

Computer, storage và network systems use two standards to measure the number of bytes in a gigabyte: base 10 and base 2. The base 10 definition of gigabyte uses the decimal system khổng lồ show that 1 GB is equal khổng lồ 109 bytes, or 1 billion bytes. Today, most storage manufacturers & consumers use the base 10 standard to define a gigabyte.

Computers & their operating systems often use the base 2, or binary, size of measurement, in which 1 GB equals 1,073,741,824 bytes. In this Mã Sản Phẩm, a gigabyte is sometimes referred to lớn as a gibibyte, although not all vendors take this approach, thus the confusion. In the early days of storage, this wasn"t a significant issue because the discrepancy between the base 10 & base 2 measurements wasn"t substantial. However, the differences became more pronounced as vendors started manufacturing storage media with more capacity.

Base 2 (binary) vs. base 10 (decimal) measurements

Because of the differences between the two standards, users might see discrepancies on their systems in how the amount of storage is reported. For example, a manufacturer might show the capathành phố of an HDD as 500 GB, but the computer reports the HDD"s capathành phố as 466 GB. Fortunately, many systems now use GiB when specifically referring khổng lồ gibibytes, helping khổng lồ clarify the differences.

How long does it take to lớn use 1 GB of data?

With today"s data-intensive sầu workloads, a gigabyte of data can be used up quickly. A single-layer digital video disk (DVD) can hold only 4.7 GB of data, and a double-layer disc can hold only 8.5 GB, a drop in the bucket compared lớn a 10 TB HDD. Even a typical máy tính xách tay or desktop computer contains only 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM.

In more concrete terms, one gigabyte of data is equal to:

250 downloaded songs; 6,180 sent và received emails; 250 10-megapx photos; 50,000 average emails with no attachments; 3,333 average emails with standard-sized attachments; 5 hours of standard-definition movies; or 353 one-minute YouTube videos.

What is a GB on a phone?

When purchasing smartphones, customers can often choose from multiple storage capathành phố options, which are typically based on available gigabytes. The more gigabytes, the higher the storage capađô thị -- and the higher the price tag.

For many customers, storage capathành phố is often one of the most important factors when choosing a phone. For example, Apple"s iPhone 13 Pro offers four capathành phố options -- 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB và 1 TB -- while Samsung"s Galaxy Z Flip3 5G offers only two options -- 128 GB or 256 GB. Most of today"s phones use gigabyte as the measure of storage capathành phố, but as the iPhone 13 Pro indicates, it might be just a matter of time before gigabyte is supplanted by terabyte.

Regardless of which storage options that customers choose, they should be aware that available capađô thị is often less than the total capacity. For example, an iPhone might use between 11 GB and 14 GB of storage space for iOS & the preinstalled apps -- the exact amount depends on the Mã Sản Phẩm và settings. Software updates can also affect available capathành phố.

In addition, gigabyte measurements can play a role when điện thoại thông minh customers select their cellular service plans. These days, many plans offer unlimited calling and texting but restrict the amount of data that can be transferred khổng lồ or from the device. In fact, the data amount is often the prime differentiator between plans.

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For instance, T-điện thoại offers the Essentials, Magenta và Magenta MAX plans. The Essentials plan provides 50 GB of data, the Magenta plan provides 100 GB and the MAX plan offers unlimited data. In addition, the Magenta plan gets up to 5 GB of điện thoại hotspot data, and the MAX plan gets 40 GB of high-tốc độ data and unlimited data at 3G speeds.

In today"s market, gigabyte measures play an important role in choosing mobile devices và services, but it might not be long before the discussion revolves around terabytes rather than gigabytes. Until then, customers should pay cthảm bại attention lớn the GB options available for their mobile devices.

Gigabyte history

The first gigabyte-capacity hard drive was IBM 3380, which was introduced in 1980. IBM 3380 packaged two 1.26 GB hard disk assemblies in a refrigerator-sized cabinet. Pricing ranged from $81,000 to $142,000, depending on the configuration.

When PCs were first introduced, HDDs were relatively small in terms of data capacity, & they were quite expensive sầu. IBM Personal Computer XT, released in 1983, was the first PC with a built-in hard drive sầu as a standard feature. It originally came with a 10 megabytes (MB) or trăng tròn MB hard drive sầu. In 1991, the first 1 GB drives became available with a price tag of nearly $3,000.

From there, hard drive capacity grew rapidly, with prices dropping just as fast. When Hitađưa ra brought out the first 1 TB drive sầu in 2007, the company noted that it took 35 years for HDDs khổng lồ reach 1 GB & 14 years lớn get to lớn 500 GB. The first 1 TB drives appeared only two years later.

Today, HDDs are available with 20 TB of storage, và SSDs can hold as much as 100 TB of storage.

Gigabyte vs. gigabit

A bit, which is short for binary digit, is the smallest unit of computer data. A bit has a single binary value that is either 0 or 1. Computers are generally designed to store data và exexinh đẹp instructions in bit multiples called bytes. In most computer systems, there are 8 bits in a byte & 8,589,934,592 bits in a gigabyte.

A byte -- and, by extension, a gigabyte -- typically describes data at rest, although it might also describe data being transferred between computer systems or to lớn storage bandwidth or throughput. For example, computer memory và storage are often measured in bytes, such as a desktop with 16 GB of RAM và 750 GB of storage.

In many computer architectures, a byte is the smallest addressable unit of memory. For instance, an 8đôi mươi MB hard drive holds 8trăng tròn million bytes of data.

A bit -- and, by extension, a gigabit -- typically refers to lớn data being transmitted over a network. For instance, gigabits are used to lớn describe data transfer rates, such as network throughput và internet connection speeds, as in 10 gigabits per second or 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

Gigabyte-kích cỡ storage options & pricing

Several types of storage media provide gigabyte range capathành phố, and those capacities can vary dramatically. Some of the most commonly used storage types in this range include HDDs, flash drives, memory cards, USB memory sticks, Blu-ray discs và DVDs.

Price per gigabyte varies among vendors và types of storage media. However, across all vendors & storage types, prices have been falling year over year. For example, the average price per gigabyte of an HDD in 2000 was nearly $8, according to IDC, but had dropped khổng lồ 3.5 cents per gigabyte by 2017. Now, there are HDDs that offer storage for under 2 cents per gigabyte.

However, the year-over-year decline in the average price per gigabyte for HDDs has slowed significantly in recent years.


Since their introduction, flash drives have had a higher price per gigabyte than HDDs, but that"s been changing in recent years as SSD capacities have increased and prices have sầu dropped. The average price per gigabyte for SSDs has been steadily approaching parity with HDDs, although SSDs are still costlier, running 9 cents per gigabyte or more. That said, considerations such as durability, footprint, power consumption and ongoing maintenance should also be taken into trương mục when evaluating the true total cost of ownership.