What Is TB in Computers?

by Lynette Arceneaux
Your external hard drive might hold TBs of information.

Your external hard drive might hold TBs of information.

Unfamiliar computer acronyms and jargon can sometimes feel like a foreign language. One computer term that might have people scratching their heads is "TB," which refers to the amount of information in terabytes that a computer can store.

Identification

A bit is the smallest increment of data on a computer. Bits are usually assembled into groups of eight to create a byte. Computer memory and storage space are often measured in megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB) and terabytes (TB).

Significance

One terabyte is about a trillion bytes or 1,000 gigabytes. A TB can hold approximately 500 million typewritten pages, 25 million songs or 300 feature-length films.

Considerations

Manufacturers of hard drives often use the decimal system, defining 10GB of storage space as 10 billion bytes. Your computer, however, uses a binary system, defining 10GB as 10,737,418,240 bytes. Therefore, you might notice that your computer recognizes 10GB as capable of storing only 9.31GB: the result of a difference in definition, not a computer error.

Fun Fact

The "tera" in terabyte stems from the Greek word for monster. This is confirmed by the Oxford English Dictionary, which explains that the prefix "tera-" is affixed to the names of units to create the names of units 10 to the 12th power times larger--or one million million times larger. The OED cites such examples as terahertz, terawatt and terasecond.

About the Author

Based in Southern California, Lynette Arceneaux has worked as a writer and editor since 1995. Her works have appeared in anthologies, such as "From the Trenches" and "Black Box," in the magazine "Neo-opsis," and on numerous websites. Arceneaux, who holds a Master of Arts degree, currently focuses on the topics of health and wellness, lifestyle, family and pets.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera external storage image by Albert Lozano from Fotolia.com