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Terabyte Hard Drives - How Much Storage Space Do we Need?

written by: Dianna Monda Dill•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 6/6/2009

Read on to learn more about the terabyte hard drive, an external storage device that is taking the consumer market by storm.

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    With the tremendous growth in digital content both in the home and in the office, the demand for immense amounts of hard drive storage has grown. Enter the terabyte hard drive.

    The terabyte hard drive is the world's most common (large) external hard drive storage consumer product. Previously the preserve of large corporations and universities, it is gaining in popularity in homes, offices, and schools the world over.

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    The prefix "tera" is derived from the Greek term for "monster," which reflects the huge data storage capacity of a terabyte hard drive. A terabyte, abbreviated as TB, equals one trillion bytes, one million megabytes, or one thousand gigabytes. Even by today’s standards, the amount of data storage provided by a terabyte hard drive is enormous.

    To get an idea of the sheer volume a terabyte hard drive has, consider that one such drive can hold over 300,000 images or approximately 250,000 mp3 files. The entire print collection of the Library of Congress can be contained in just 10 terabyte hard drives. A single terabyte can hold 1,000 copies of Encyclopedia Britannica. In fact, approximately 50,000 trees would be needed to produce enough paper to print out one a terabyte of data.

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    Why Would Anyone Need an Entire Terabyte of Data Storage?

    The demand for Terabyte-size hard drive storage is primarily being driven by the immense amounts of digital content that are produced every day by individuals, schools, and businesses. This content not only needs to be stored, but also, as a matter of prudent computing, needs to be backed up as well.

    What’s more, new applications with huge storage demands are being developed, such as high-definition audio and video, Computer Assisted Design (CAD) applications, and graphic-intensive gaming programs. The content produced from these new applications take storage capacity requirements to a whole new level.

    Just one hour of standard video, for example, takes up about 1 gigabyte of hard disk space, while a similar video in high definition will can take up to 4GB.

    The terabyte hard drive also offers a much smaller foot print than four individual 250GB hard drives. In larger companies, this maximizes available computing room real estate.

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    The Future of Terabyte Hard Drives

    It is generally believed that the capacity of hard drives will continue to increase with advances in heat-assisted and patterned media technologies, which will make it possible to create drives that are capable of storing up to 100 terabits of data per square inch.

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