Field Notes Blog
News and thoughts on UI/UX, web design, and more.
Gigs, megs, kilobytes, megapixels…omg, wth? If you’ve ever gone to upload a file and been shocked by how long it’s taking then never fear! Today’s episode is all about file sizes. I’ll cover all of the common ones, a few exotic ones and even reveal the name of one you might use every day without knowing what it actually means!
ZBs, YBs, BBs and more = ZB stands for zettabyte and there are 1024 in a YB or yottabyte. What comes after that? Brontobytes are 1027 and gegobytes are 1030 but the mother of them all is the googol. That’s right, Google is named after the googol, aka googolplex, which is 10100. That might sound tidy, but famed astronomer Carl Sagan estimated that “writing a googolplex in full decimal form (i.e., "10,000,000,000...") would be physically impossible, since doing so would require more space than is available in the known universe.”
Where to use:
KB: website images are usually 500-1000 kilobyte. As a comparison, a typical Word doc is around 200k. These are fine for emailing.
MB: A typical pdf file or mp3 is around 3 MBs. This can be readily emailed, but most email programs will force you to use some other method of sending like Google Drive or DropBox for files over 30 mbs.
GB: No emailing here, files this big need to be sent using services like DropBox or provided on a Flash drive.
TB: you might have a back up hard drive that’s a few TBs but you’ll likely not work with files this size (at least for the time being!).
*Why 1024 instead of simply 1000? Decimals are based on powers of 10 whereas binary numbers are based on the base 2 (binary = 2). The notion of using kilo for 1024 is a compromise between the literal decimal meaning which is widely understood linguistically and the mathematical definition.
That's it for my 8 Week Digital Summer Camp online learning series! I hope you've enjoyed watching these little videos as much as I've enjoyed making them. To get cool future videos like this delivered straight to your In Box, join my mailing list.
About the author
As the owner of Pixel Lava Interactive I've helped hundreds of small businesses and nonprofits with websites, graphic design and more. I hope you'll find this blog full of useful information.
~ Ame Stanko