To understand what a petabyte is, one needs to start at the beginning...
As you may already know, a byte is a unit of storage in the database. On a basic level, one byte is equivalent to one character. A kilobyte (kilo meaning 1,000) is roughly one thousand bytes. Since computers are binary (base two) systems, we have to use 2 to the power of 10 which is 1,024. So in reality, one kilobyte (KB) is 1,024 bytes. We then use the following chart for Megabytes (MB), Gigabytes (GB), Terabytes (TB) and finally Petabytes (PB):
1 KB = 1,024 bytes
1 MB = 1,024 KB
1 GB = 1,024 MB
1 TB = 1,024 GB
1 PB = 1,024 TB
This gives us 1 Petabyte (PB) = 1,024 TB = 1024*1024 GB = 1024*1024*1024 MB = 1024*1024*1024*1024 KB = 1024*1024*1024*1024*1024 bytes = 1,125,899,906,842,624 bytes or roughly 1,000 trillion bytes!!!
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This was first published in January 2002