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How Much Is a Terabyte?

Carolyn worked as a technical writer, software user interface designer, and as a gig writer way before it was hip.

How much data can a terabyte storage device hold? Read on and find out!

How much data can a terabyte storage device hold? Read on and find out!

How Much is a Terabyte? A Quick Answer

 How ManyTerm




is the same as a thousand



is the same as one million

approx 1,000,000


How much is a terabyte of disk space anyway? That's the question I asked myself standing in line at my local big box computer retailer. We were purchasing our new handy Acer Aspire One netbook, which has only a 160 gigabyte hard drive.

With computers getting more and more powerful all the time, it is just a bit difficult to keep up with the really big numbers I never even learned in elementary school (or come to think of it, junior high, high school or college.) After all, I wasn't really paying that careful attention in math class. When was I ever going to need to use those big numbers after all? And to add insult to injury, and give away my age a bit, my first computer had a smoking 20 megabytes of disk space. And to me, that was huge! At the time I couldn't even imagine holding a tiny device in my lap that would hold so much information. So without further ado, here is the breakdown.

One Terabyte Equals 6.5 Netbooks

The storage space on a 1 terabyte hard drive equals the storage space on 6 1/2 netbook computers with 160 gig hard drives.

The storage space on a 1 terabyte hard drive equals the storage space on 6 1/2 netbook computers with 160 gig hard drives.

A terabyte-sized hard drive holds the same amount of information as 6 1/2 netbook computers with 160-gig hard drives. I have to confess that the idea of moving to a less is more mindframe with my netbook took quite a bit of getting used to. Wasn't I giving something up if I was letting the internet carry the load of my computing power? Maybe I ought to buy one of those terabyte-sized external hard drives to accessorize my consummately affordable netbook purchase. Besides, I thought to myself, if I'm going to have to network my home PC to my netbook in order to get a wireless connection, why not get a terrabyte-sized external hard disk drive? According to my thinking, I would save about $400 on a new desktop and extend the usable life of my current model for at least another three years.

A Dell Inspiron Desktop Computer has 1 Terabyte Disk Space

The storage space on a 1 terabyte hard drive can equal the storage on a Dell Inspiron computer. However, now these computers are being made with more storage space.

The storage space on a 1 terabyte hard drive can equal the storage on a Dell Inspiron computer. However, now these computers are being made with more storage space.

But for me, the real question on my mind was how much media is going to fit on a terabyte-sized storage device? Isn't that kind of like buying a 5000 square-foot house for your starter home? After doing some research, I think the answer is a definite, strong no. So many people these days are opting to go disk free with their music, dvd, and photo collections, not to mention directly downloading tv and music files and storing them on their computers instead. I like the idea of having an external storage device so I don't have to spend a weekend transferring my files if I decide to upgrade to a computer that has a tv tuner in it.

I checked the data for DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and photos. You are probably also considering using your disk space for some direct TV and music file downloads too. I didn't do the numbers for the TV files, since so much depends on how you are downloading and what file format you are downloading in.

My 10 megapixle Canon Powershot G-10 camera takes hi-definition pictures that saves to an approximately four megabyte file size. Your pictures may be a bigger or smaller, depending on your camera, but I figured my camera was representative of a middle of the road newer camera. Once you see the numbers, unless you are a professional photographer, you probably won't be taking THAT many pictures anyway. But if you are, you will be pleased to know that disk space is getting cheaper and cheaper.

Terabyte Hard Drive Stores 250,000 Photo Images

A one terabyte storage device can hold up to 250,000 images that are 4 megs in size each.

A one terabyte storage device can hold up to 250,000 images that are 4 megs in size each.

One Terabyte Stores Approximately 128 DVD movies

A 1 terabyte hard drive can store 128 movies. This number can be greatly increased if you use compression software.

A 1 terabyte hard drive can store 128 movies. This number can be greatly increased if you use compression software.

Terabyte Hard Drive Stores 20 Blu-ray discs


My husband recently decided that the time is right to save our badly-scratched DVD movie collection from the three-year old. Our copy of Cars probably won't make it. It is almost scratched beyond recognition.You can back up DVDs to your computer. Most DVDs, with all of the bonus material, use about 8 gigs of space (that's gigabytes for you non-eggheads). Since a terabyte is 1024 gigabytes, you can store about 108 DVDs worth of data on your terabyte drive, if you aren't using it for other stuff.

Blu-ray discs take up significantly more disk space than a traditional DVD, at about 50 gigs. You can store about 20 Blu-ray discs on a terabyte hard drive.

You can increase the number of DVD movies you can back up by only copying the movie and soundtrack files, and leaving the extra stuff off your backup. Use file compression software to further increase the amount of space you can save.

Data in an ever-expanding universe.

Data in an ever-expanding universe.

© 2009 Carolyn Augustine


Febri Antoro from Bantul on June 03, 2018:

Maybe in a few years, we will not hear the word mebabyte again. Because the size of the capacity is now getting bigger.

ncareza on May 29, 2018:

there's some dvd that has 17GB size i think

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on September 26, 2011:

Hi Guy, thanks for sharing your story. It is amazing how quickly technology advances! I remember cutting my grocery budget down to $25 a week so I could save up to buy a state of the art 286 computer. It had a 40 megabyte hard drive and operated on DOS and Windows 3.0. I had no graphics capabilities to speak of but I thought the word processor was amazing. Now my netbook has 160 Gigs and our desktop computer is a dinosaur with only about 450 Gigs.

guyLewit on September 25, 2011:

In the early 80's our office worked with Radio Shack's xenix multiuser TRS-80 system. We bought one of the first hard drives they offered with an 8 Megabyte capacity. The box weighed around 25-30 pounds. The cost was $3000.00. A gigabyte is approx 125 times that capacity or $375,000. A Terabyte is 1000 gigs or $375,000,000...Today, 1.5T external drives are available for around $150. That's progress.

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on September 05, 2010:

Thanks Tucson Jim, you are right, some technologies take hold and stay with us for long periods of time. However, I've been thinking lately that storage devices for smaller, decentralized computers is becoming the trend in this case, and these portable storage devices are getting to be larger and more affordable at the same time.

TucsonJim on September 03, 2010:

It depends which numbers you look at. Over a dozen years ago, I regularly bought 15,000 rpm Seagate Barracudas. Today, 7200rpm (still Barracudas) is but the norm. No improvement there at all. Memory speed hasn't improved much either. Finally, a half dozen years ago I bought a laptop that ran at 3.6 GHz - and there's nothing that fast (or hot) today. In the early 80's (just after the Byte Shop went under) there were over 200 computer stores in town. Today, with three times as many people, there are but several dozen. But then, we're also still using the internal combustion engine in our cars (rather than, say, turbine or sterling from 50 years ago) and burn coal to produce electricity - both technologies from the 1800's. And, when did America peak in the number of domestic solar hot water heater installations? 1860 - back when we still foolishly believed the "expert" prediction that oil would only last 20 years. In 1990, I was silly enough to predict that voice recognition improvements over the following five years would spell the end of the keyboard by the turn of the century. Voice recognition improved but the keyboard designed in 1875 is still here (and likely to stay another hundred years). The more things change, it seams, the more they also stay the same.

nbbatt.com from bear, de, 19701 on August 27, 2010:

computer technology grows rapidly. if we estimate that something come, it will prove to come one or more steps ahead.

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on January 11, 2010:

Thanks HubCrafter, that is high praise. You are very kind! Happy New Year!

HubCrafter from Arizona on January 11, 2010:

Wow. Great read. You've wowed me with technology info (cuz I'm so easily impressed w/ anyone who understands this virtual lap of luxury, lol.)

AND you've got a smart idea. Representing the product and the info like this. Well done.


Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on September 19, 2009:

@MrCheesefish: Thank you for the specific input on the movies. I'm going to edit this article to increase the number of movies that can be stored on a terabyte of disk space. I've noticed prices on gigabyte storage drives falling quite a bit, maybe the larger terabyte-sized disk drives will come down soon. A genuine thanks for your comment!

@Manna in the wild: I love that visualization. But I wonder, what do you consider a typical town or a typical library? I've lived in many different towns from a small community of about 10000 people to metropolitan areas that totaled 18 million people. Our current library is a regional library that serves the needs of three cities, each of about 100,000. They have a huge media and book collection. I wonder how many terabyte drives they would need? Still, a wonderful and intriguing concept. I liked it!

Manna in the wild from Australia on September 19, 2009:

Another way to visualise a Terabyte is that it is roughly the amount of text in all the books of a small library (as you would find in a typical town.)

MrCheesefish on September 18, 2009:

When i download movies like saw 4, they only take up 700 mb. I think i might get a terabyte for my pc

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on September 10, 2009:

That may be true depending on the length of the movie. FWIW, I was measuring 8 GIG movie disks, with all the features. Depending on how much digital information is on a movie disk...some full length features are "only" about 600 megs, and you can compress them to a much smaller size. It's difficult to put a number on that one, but you are the second person to make the comment, and I agree that the number is probably quite a bit higher than my graphic showed. Thanks for your comment. Good luck getting started on HP.

japzlloyd on September 09, 2009:

i thought 1 terabyte disk can store up to thousands of movies..:) lol

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on September 08, 2009:

Jon that was about the same time I worked in the computer industry for a chip manufacturer. I remember listening to them talking about how they would be doubling their computing power every two years while halving their computers' size. Now the computing power on cell phones and netbooks rival the performance of those accomplishments. It makes you wonder what tomorrow will bring.

Jon Sterling from Houston Texas - United States on September 08, 2009:

I remember back in the early 90's Kodak came out with the first terabyte drive. It was the size of a double door side-by-side Frigidaire - was like $5,000,000.xx and required a special room to facilitate it's use. You could not wear any metal on your body when entering the room while it was operating either.

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on August 26, 2009:

Genius Man, thank you for your comment. What kind of file compression software are you using? Are these full-length feature movies or YouTube movies? Just trying to clarify! Thanks for reading and please respond!

GENIUS MAN on August 26, 2009:

a 1 terabyte disk space can store up to 600 or more movies my disk space has 600 movies and still has a lot of SPACE.

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on August 02, 2009:

iPod, that is an interesting question. My guess is that by then we will have some other form of technology that makes the point completely moot. What that might be, however, I can't say. What do you think?

iPodTouchTapp on August 01, 2009:

nice hub, what do you think the biggest hard drive capacity will be in say, 50 years? Very Informative thanks :)

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on July 31, 2009:

Thank you Lupo, I couldn't agree with you more. Marvelling about these things gave me the idea for the hub. :)

Lupo from Boston Area on July 31, 2009:

It is hard to keep up with all the latest advances in tech, especially when it comes to computers. Thanks for the informative hub.

It is really something how cheap so many aspects of computing have become - storage costs (terrabyte harddrives are not that expensive), low cost netbooks, etc.

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