How Many Bytes in a Gigabyte: An Expanded Answer to the Question

In today’s information bubble, it is not uncommon to think about how many bytes in a gigabyte. The truth is, it is more than a billion bytes.

How Many Bytes In A Gigabyte

In this post, you will learn how to calculate the correct number. Read on to find out and learn about other data storage units.

How Many Bytes in a Gigabyte?

A gigabyte consists of 1000 megabytes (MBs), which translates to a million kilobytes (KBs) and a billion bytes. But the truth is, the exact number is a bit larger and requires some calculations. When it comes to computers, all operations are binary. In other words, calculations are based on the power of two.

– Calculating the Number of Bytes in a GB

With the binary system or base-2 system, the number closest to 1000 is 2^10, which is 1024. Therefore, in reality, a gigabyte is 1024 MBs. Hence, using this logic, you can easily calculate the number of bytes that go into a GB.

To do this, you need to multiply the number of bytes that go into a KB and how many KBs go into an MB, and how many MBs make a GB. You can easily accomplish this like so:

  • 1024 bytes make a KB
  • 1024 KBs make an MB
  • 1024 MBs make a GB

Thus, 1 gigabyte is equal to:

1024 x 1024 x 1024 = 1,073,741,824 bytes

The Number of Bytes in a GB of Hard Drive Storage

Before delving into the nitty-gritty, you need to understand other data storage metrics. To get started, it is worth noting that computers rely on binary systems for data transmission, storage, and processing. That is to say that computers understand two states of information, i.e.,  zeros and ones.

– Bits

An easy way you can think of it is to consider a true/false test or an on/off switch. In such a scenario, you have only two choices to pass a specific message. In the world of computers, these are expressed as ones and zeros, or, in other words, as bits. A bit is the shortest form of a binary, which makes it the tinniest unit of data in computers.

In case you are wondering about how many bits in a byte, the answer is 8 bits. Simply put, 1 byte = 8 bits. Although bits are too tiny to allow meaningful data transfer, they form the basis for much larger files. A combination of many bits lets you store text documents, images, music files, and videos.

– Bytes

In essence, a byte is the building block for large units, including a gigabyte, terabyte, petabyte, and zettabyte. Usually, a single byte can represent a single number, symbol, or alphabetic letter in a text file. Suppose you write a document consisting of 300 characters, the file you create will occupy 300 bytes in your computer hard drive provided the file does not include metadata.

– KB

 If you are wondering how many bytes in a kilobyte, it is made up of 1024 bytes, so 1024 bytes equals to 1 KB. A KB is enough to store your average paragraph.

– MB

Next is MB, which consists of 1024 KBs. A single MB is large enough to accommodate a digital book, a photo, or a 1-minute audio file. If you wish to know how many bytes in a megabyte, then the answer is 1024

– GB

And finally, how many megabytes in a gigabyte? A collection of 1024 MBs constitute a gigabyte. It is the most common metric for RAM, hard drives, and other storage equipment like flash disks. A GB is large enough to hold hundreds of pictures and books. As well, depending on the quality, a GB can hold hours of music and videos.

To sum up, these calculations, since the exact numbers can be confusing, most manufacturers often list storage capacities rounded to the 1000 model. Thus, using this model:

  • 1 GB is approximately 1,000 MBs
  • 1 GB is approximately 1,000,000 KBs
  • 1 GB is approximately 1,000,000,000 bytes

How Much Data Can Fit in a GB

A GB is the most common metric for establishing the size of data storage and transmission in computers. No wonder most manufacturers use it to indicate the capacity of their products.

How Much Data Can Fit in a GB

Hence, if you wish to purchase network equipment, external drives, RAMS, smartphones, or tablets, you need to understand how much data is a GB. Usually, a GB can hold:

  • Approximately 900,000 text pages or 4,000 books each with 200 pages
  • About 500 photos from a 6-megapixel camera
  • Around 250 audio files of standard quality
  • Several minutes of 4K video with 30fps
  • Approximately 600 to 700 web pages

What Causes Confusion With Calculations?

You may find it confusing with some calculations indicating there are 1,073,741,824 bytes in a GB instead of 1,000,000,000. The reason is, as you may have realized, all the numbers are mere estimates. That is why you will come across conflicting answers as you search for the number of bytes in a GB.

Often manufacturers use the decimal system based on 1000 multiples instead of the binary system that relies on 1024 multiples. The decimal system provides a well-rounded figure and is easy to use and understand.

– Sorting Out the Confusion

To overcome the confusion with these numbers, you need to understand how computers work. Fortunately, you are aware that computers understand binary language only. Thus, if you place two bits together, each can accept two states (either 0 or 1). This generates 4 (2^2) possible values. These are:

  1. 1 1
  2. 0 0
  3. 1 0
  4. 0 1

In this example, if you add an extra bit, the possible values increase to 8 (2^3), and the list goes on. Using the same binary system, you can calculate the number of bytes in virtually all the storage metrics. This is how you can do this. For starters, a byte is made up of 8 bits. This translates to:

2^8 = 256 (It means it can hold up to 256 possible values)

Notice that bits increase in size through a 2^x pattern. As such, it never translates into a 1000 multiplier. The calculations for the other metrics are as follows:

  • A KB equates to 2^10 bytes = 1024 bytes
  • An MB equates to 2^10 KBs = 1024 KBs
  • A GB equates to 2^10 MBs = 1024 MBs

Therefore, a GB is equal to:

  • 1,024 MBs
  • 1,048,576 KBs
  • 1,073,741,824 Bytes

Since the numbers are inconvenient in daily life, all the measurement institutions globally agreed on the use of 1000 rather than 1024. As a result, you can use SI prefixes to show large storage capabilities. In the same way, a kilogram is 1000 grams, or a kilometer is 1000 meters, a KB is assumed to contain 1000 bytes instead of 1024. It remains true for other metrics such as GB, MB, TB, PB, etc.

– The Problem With Estimation

Thanks to the SI prefixes, it is a lot easier to establish larger storage capacities. However, they tend to confuse a lot of computer users. First, even though there are minor differences between “power-of-ten” and “power-of-two” systems, adopting the former can result in visible differences if you are considering large data.

– Example With a 500 GB Storage

Normally, the rounded numbers may make you feel like your device has enough storage. For instance, if you purchase a 500 GB external drive, you will end up with approximately 466 GB of usable space. This is the problem of using 1000×1000 instead of 1024×1024.

Using the SI conventions, a 500 GB external drive consists of 500,000,000,000 bytes

But if you divide the value by 1024, you will get 488,281,250 KBs

Example With a 500 GB Storage

To get the number of MBS, divide the value again by 1024. You will get 476,837 MBs.

Now, to find the usable space in this external drive in GBs you need to divide the value by 1024 again. The exact usable space is 465.6 GBs.

Thus, in reality, a 500GB disk drive can hold up to 465 GBs of data. It gets worse if you use the drive on your computer. By default, firmware and the operating system block off a few more GBs to store critical data. With that said, even if you use the drive for external storage, you will have lost 35GBs of storage. This makes you wonder why the manufacturer has been dishonest or, worse, deceived you.

– Other Problems

Some companies utilize prefixes like “gibi”, “mibi”, and “kibi” rather than GBs, MBs, and KBs. Such units denote the size of storage based on the power of two to indicate the exact amount of data storage space. This is another problem since different manufacturers rely on different approaches to represent storage and data capacities.

List of Other Larger Units

Even though GB is the most common data metric, there are other large metrics. These indicate capacities in advanced devices like HDDs, SSDs, flash storage, and memory cards. Such units include:

  • Terabytes
  • Petabytes
  • Exabytes
  • Zettabytes
  • Yottabytes

– Terabyte (TB)

How many bytes in a terabyte? A TB is equal to 1000 GBs and a trillion bytes. With a 1TB storage, you can save a million books and photos, two years of non-stop music, or 25 days of HD video. Most advanced storage drives range from 1 TB to 8 TB.

– Petabyte (PB)

In everyday use, GBs and TBs are enough. However, server giants like Amazon, YouTube, and Facebook process Petabytes of data. A Petabyte is equal to 1000 TBs or 1,000,000 GBs.

– Exabyte (EB)

An exabyte is 1000 times larger than a PB. In other words, an EB is equal to 1000 PBs. To put this into perspective, the number of online traffic for a specific period, like an hour, is measured in Exabytes.


A gigabyte is a common metric in measuring computer storage.

Let’s recap the most important points that we talked about in this post:

  • A GB is equivalent to 1,073,741,824 bytes (binary) or 1,000,000,000 bytes (decimal)
  • In reality, calculations using the binary method provide the most accurate figure
  • Apart from GB, there are other larger metrics such as TB, PB, and EB

Now you have a solid understanding of computer storage and data units.

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