The Beginner's Guide to Cloud Storage Volume

December 6, 2023By Luke Boland

Navigating the world of cloud storage technology can be a daunting task, especially for beginners. It can be challenging to understand and utilize the available options. If you are just starting your cloud storage journey, it is important to have a basic understanding of the volume of your data.

Storage Sizes and What Makes Up Storage

When you think about data storage sizes, megabytes and gigabytes are what initially come to mind. But to truly understand data sizes, we’ll need dive into the fundamental unit of computing measurement: bytes. From this basic building block we can begin to understand the full range of what data storage can offer.

putting a petabyte in its place

What does that look like? 


1 Byte is simply equivalent to one typed character.   


A kilobyte is equivalent to approximately one thousand bytes. A typical page of Roman alphabetic text requires around 2 kilobytes to store, which is roughly one byte per letter. Similarly, a short email usually occupies only 1 or 2 kilobytes.  


A megabyte is equivalent to approximately one million bytes (or approximately one thousand kilobytes). For example,  a 10-million-pixel image captured by a digital camera would normally occupy 2-5 megabytes of storage space. As for MP3 audio files, one minute of audio would roughly take up one megabyte of space. 


One gigabyte (GB) is approximately one billion bytes or one thousand megabytes. This unit is commonly employed to quantify the size of software applications, longer videos, and more extensive datasets. For example, a full movie typically occupies between 4 and 8 GB of disk space.  


One terabyte (TB) is approximately 1000 gigabytes or one trillion bytes. This unit is often employed in enterprise-level storage scenarios, accommodating vast amounts of data, including extensive databases, multimedia libraries, and archival content. A single TB could hold 1,000 copies of the Encyclopedia Brittanica or 500 hours of video. 


One Petabyte (PB) is approximately 1,000 terabytes. It can be equivalent to 500 billion pages of standard printed text, some estimates hold that a Petabyte is the equivalent of 20 million tall filing cabinets. 


Understanding the size of your data in these units is paramount because it directly influences the costs associated with your storage usage. Cloud service providers typically charge based on the volume of data stored and the amount of data transferred. By having a clear grasp of your data's size, and what you’re storing, you can optimize your usage. Efficient management of your data size contributes to resource optimization, ensuring you neither overpay for unused storage nor encounter unexpected charges due to excessive data transfer.  By tailoring your storage and bandwidth capacities to match your actual needs, you prevent unnecessary strain on your cloud infrastructure and promote a more streamlined, cost-effective operation. 

Price differences between the same size of stored data 

The competitive nature of the cloud industry has led to varying cost models, which can include factors such as data redundancy, security features, and customer support. As a consumer, it's crucial to delve beyond the surface-level similarity of storage sizes and explore the nuances of each provider's pricing strategy. Understanding what your storage needs are empowers you to make informed decisions, ensuring that not only the size of the storage aligns with your needs but also that the associated costs harmonize with your budgetary considerations.  

Analyzing your Cloud Storage Provider 

When selecting a cloud storage provider how much you pay will ultimately be up to how much you store and, crucially, how much you access your data. It's important to be aware of any hidden fees that may exist, such as egress, data retrieval, data transfer, and various API fees, as they can be overlooked and only discovered when it is too late. With Wasabi Technology, you can store your data at a fraction of the cost that you would incur with other storage providers.   

See how much a GB, TB, and PB can cost you by using our cloud storage cost comparison tool.  

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