Terabyte: Part I in Terminology

Hard Drive

Nobody likes to appear ignorant. Yet among the technologically challenged, it is almost a source of pride to not know what the heck those computer guys are going on about. Well snap out of it! We now live in the world of the SSD, terabyte, tablet PC, and bandwidth, so if you want to follow what is going on in the technology section, or even the business section, of your antiquated newspaper, then please read on. If you are digesting these words as they appear on the backlit liquid crystal display of your gadget of choice, then you may already have a good grasp of what follows.

Terabyte – unit to measure of digital storage, approximately 1,000 gigabytes.

Though consumers can now purchase 4TB hard drives, 1TB and 2TB drives are the hot sellers right now. But believe me, for 95% of the population, 1TB is plenty. To put that kind of storage in perspective, let’s say you want to rip (copy) your vast CD collection into mp3 files on your computer. This way, you can keep them in your iTunes (or other music player of choice) library and sync them to your iPhone or other smartphone. You probably did this years ago, but if you are just now getting around to it, you’ll be able to store about 23,000 CDs worth of mp3 files on a 1TB hard drive. If you wanted to copy all of your Blu-ray movies to your computer, you could fit about 35 of them on a 1TB drive. DVDs? About 250.

Gigabyte – about 1,000 megabytes.

For almost 20 years now, computer storage has been measured in gigabytes. When my family bought its second computer in 1996, the hard drive had a capacity of 2GB. The base model MacBook Pro right now comes with 500GB. The minimum right now for most new laptops is about 320GB, which is more than enough for the vast majority of computer owners. And that’s the point. You should always have a larger hard drive than what you think you need. Unless you know how to do it yourself, the time and skill it takes to upgrade your hard drive to one with a larger capacity without changing the way your computer looks and operates when you turn it on can be cost-prohibitive. When purchasing a new computer, it’s almost always best to evaluate how much space you’ll require throughout the lifespan of a the computer and get a hard drive with more space.

For further clarification on the x1000 vs x1024 naming conventions, see here and here.