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Terabyte, Tebibye

At Will dead media ever end? I opined that we are getting closer to the point where it is unnecessary to have more storage space.

Right now, terabyte storage can be achieved for less than \$1,000.00.

A terabyte is either 1000 or 1024 to the 4th power. A tebibyte is the specific 1024 to the fourth, while terabyte could be interpreted either way. It’s a lot of storage regardless. Wikipedia says that a video store might have 8 terabytes of data on its shelves, and that the Library of Congress represents about 20 terabytes of text.

If you can read 1,000 words per minute, and did nothing but read 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it would take you around 2,000 years to read a single terabyte of data. Your computer can’t read a terabyte all that quickly either. If it could sustain 100 megabytes per second, you need ten million seconds. Don’t hold your breath while you wait.

Right now, I have a 40 GB drive on this machine that’s getting close to full. If I backed it up to a terabyte drive, I could make 25 copies of it before I ran out of space.

A terabyte of pennies makes an impressive pile. It’s also a fair wad of cash, and would be more money than even Bill Gates can put his hands on. Well, Bill’s working at it, but the rest of us know we can’t get there.

The hairs on your head might number around a quarter million, so you’d need four million people to get a terabyte of hair strands. Limit the eligibility to middle aged men and you might need a few more.

Fine sand seems to represent large numbers in fairly small volumes, sometimes estimated at 10,000 grains per cubic centimeter. We’d need 100 million cubic centimeters to get a terabyte, which is bigger than I want to store in my back yard.

The point is that even a terabyte of data is a tremendous amount. It seems we really are getting awful close to “big enough” for personal storage, though “fast enough” is still a long way off.

*Originally published at APLawrence.com

A.P. Lawrence provides SCO Unix and Linux consulting services http://www.pcunix.com

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