How Much Is a Terabyte?

by Jim Donnelly | June 17, 2022

Anyone who works with large files on a regular basis — like a videographer working with raw 4K footage — is used to the sticker shock of a terabyte (TB). While most consumers still consider a terabyte to be a considerable amount of data, it’s also clear a terabyte ‘aint what it used to be as file sizes and internet usage increase.

Either way you look at it, a terabyte is still a monster when it comes to data measurement (just google the origin of the word tera). 👹

A terabyte can hold the same amount of data as nearly a million floppy disks or 1,498 CDs. The first 1 TB external hard drive didn’t even exist until 2007.

So, let’s explore the true weight of how much is a terabyte and drill into the nuts and bolts. In this post, I will explore frequently asked questions regarding terabyte file sizes, as well as provide info on how to move files of this size.

Send Terabytes of Data

Send up to 5 TB with a single file, over the cloud, at max speed with MASV file transfer.

What is a Terabyte?

How much is a terabyte?

A terabyte is a digital data unit of measurement used to assess a specific amount of data or storage capacity.

Generally, a terabyte is worth about 1000 GB or one trillion bytes.

Exactly how much is a terabyte, however, depends on whether you look at it from a binary (base 2) or metric (base 10, or decimal) perspective. While in decimal notation a terabyte is worth one trillion bytes, which is a nice whole number. A binary terabyte (technically known as a tebibyte, or TiB) is worth 1,099,511,627,776 bytes (or 1,024 GB).

Say what now?

Don’t worry, I know these dueling perspectives can be confusing, so we wrote this post outlining the differences between binary and decimal units of data measurement.

How Much is a Terabyte?

If you’re wondering how much is 1 TB, Futurist and author Ray Kurzweil estimated that the human brain holds around 1.25 terabytes of data. If that seems like a lot, remember that it’s the equivalent of a little more than one hour of 4K video footage shot from an ARRI Alexa Mini LF in ARRIRAW format.

That’s right: If your brain were a digital storage device, it could only hold around an hour of 4K footage.

Side note: is that why I’m constantly forgetting things? Is my brain running out of disk space?

Wondering how many gigabytes are in a terabyte? Here’s how terabytes fit within the larger data measurement framework (using decimal notation):

Bit (b) 1
Byte (B) 10 b
Kilobyte (KB) 1000 B
Megabyte (MB) 1000 KB
Gigabyte (GB) 1000 MB
Terabyte (TB) 1000 GB
Petabyte (PB) 1000 TB
Exabyte (EB) 1000 PB
Zettabyte (ZB) 1000 EB
Yottabyte (YB) 1000 ZB

How Many Photos Can 1 TB Hold?

Before getting too deep into how much is 1 TB, it’s worth pointing out that digital images, videos, and documents all come in different sizes, so a definitive answer is impossible.

But we can make some pretty good estimates, in this case based on an agreement of average image size of, let’s say, 500KB per image. Assuming digital notation, then 1 TB cloud storage should hold around two million photos. Here’s the math:

  • If…1 TB = 1000 GB
  • Then…1000 GB = 1,000,000 MB
  • Which means…1,000,000 MB = 1,000,000,000 KB
  • As a result…1,000,000,000 KB/500KB per photo = 2,000,000 photos

The above completely depends on the size of your images, however. And if you’ve just purchased a shiny new 1 TB HDD to store all those images, keep in mind there’s not going to be a full terabyte of storage on that drive. Plan accordingly.

How Many Movies Can 1 TB Hold?

As with the above example, the number of videos contained within a terabyte depends almost entirely on video size – which, in turn, depends on several factors, including bit rate, frame rate, and resolution.

The well-known American engineer (and Commodore Amiga aficionado) Dave Haynie explains how many videos one terabyte can hold here, and summarized in the table below.

Resolution

Frame rate

Format Est. video size
4096×2160

24

Uncompressed RAW 40 minutes
4096×2160 24 ProRes RAW 1.7 to 3.4 hours
4096×2160 24 ACG long GOP 9.4 to 14 hours

Or, as Haynie says,

“There are so many flavors of video. How many sea shells can you fit into a duffel bag?”

(His quote. Not ours.)

You can use our recent guide to 4K video sizes, as determined by the specs of some of the most popular video cameras on the market, to determine how many videos you can store within a terabyte.

How Many Documents Can 1 TB Hold?

While this again depends on size, there are some pretty reliable estimates from which we can draw. According to this post, for instance, one gigabyte can hold the following number of documents (sorted by document type and assuming decimal notation):

Document  type

# of pages (GB)

# of pages (TB)
Email file 64,782 64.78M
Text file 677,963 677.96M
PowerPoint file 17,552 17.55M

What’s The Best Way to Transfer 1 TB Online?

The best way to transfer large files typically depends on your needs. You can use a file transfer protocol (FTP) server, but they’re generally slow, not user-friendly, and not very secure.

You can also use some of the more popular cloud solutions out there, but along with being slow, they have hard limits on file sizes or the amount you can transfer per day. That means a lot of zipping and splitting before you can transfer that much data.

MASV’s accelerated private network, on the other hand, offers up to 10 Gbps file transfer with a maximum file size limit of 5 TB — per file.

Whichever method you choose for terabyte transfer, you need to ensure it prioritizes safety and security, encryption, speed, and ease of use.

Fast, Easy, and Secure Media Delivery

See why MASV large file transfer is trusted by media professionals around the world.

How Do I Send 1 TB Online Safely?

There are several security measures you should keep in mind when transferring large terabyte files. Especially if you’re a professional in the video production industry, as high-resolution media files are the most common TB culprits:

  • A Trusted Partner Network (TPN) assessment: file transfer companies can undergo a detailed cybersecurity audit of their information security management systems, content handling workflows, and processes by the third-party organization known as the Trusted Partner Network (an organization run by the Motion Picture Association, or MPA).

Such an assessment – which must be kept up-to-date – proves your provider adheres to the MPA’s Best Practices Common Guidelines for securely sharing valuable intellectual property.

MASV is a TPN-validated file transfer solution.

  • A layered security framework: this should include rigorous and regular security awareness training for all employees, customer data protections (including code scanning before deployment and automated system access alerts), robust 12-character passwords, and encrypted files both in-flight and at-rest.

Learn how MASV is built for secure file transfers since Day 1.

  • A zero-trust architecture: the principle of least privilege ensures that every employee can only access the data and applications they need to do their job and nothing more.
  • Compliance with data protection standards: your provider should comply with data protection standards such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

How Do I Transfer a 1 TB Folder Online Without Compression?

Moving terabytes of data without compression is a tall order in most cases. Large video files usually need some form of lossless or lossy compression – such as zipping – before transferring using standard large file transfer solutions.

Zipped files, however, are notoriously prone to corruption and suffer from a lack of cross-platform support because of a lack of uniform standards. Zipping files is also a time-consuming task (especially if you need to zip and split your files into multiple smaller ones).

At MASV, we encourage users not to zip their files using third-party software. MASV maintains your original folder structure, just like a ZIP file, and delivers files in a format compatible with any operating system. Plus, MASV’s automatic transfer resumptions ensure your files won’t corrupt if your computer goes to sleep or you briefly lose connectivity.

Conclusion

Hopefully, by now, you know what and how much is a terabyte. To recap quickly:

  • How much is a terabyte: a terabyte is a unit of measurement worth about 1000 GB or one trillion bytes (when looking through a base 10 decimal perspective)
  • How many photos can 1 TB hold: If you have a 1 TB external drive or cloud storage, you can hold approx. 2,000,000 photos (if each photo is 500 KB in size — which is highly unlikely)
  • How many movies can 1 TB hold: 40 minutes of footage (if uncompressed from a 4K camera)
  • How many documents can 1 TB hold: 677.96M documents
  • What’s the safest way to transfer 1 TB online, without compression? The answer: MASV 👇

Transfer Terabytes of Data By Email (Or Otherwise) With MASV

Sending large video files of up to 5 TB using MASV is as simple as sending an email. Users can easily send files by email by sending a delivery as a link (follow these simple instructions). Once you create a MASV link, you can share it any way you want, including copying and pasting it into the body of an email.

You can also use MASV Portals to quickly receive files by sending anyone a link to your Portal; all they need to do, in turn, is drag their file into your Portal. Users can further integrate their Portal with their third-party cloud storage platform using MASV Cloud Connect, combined with MASV Unlimited Storage for instant file backup.

MASV is available for a flat pay-as-you-go rate of $0.25/GB (with extended storage an extra ten cents per GB per month), or you can request a quote for custom plans.

Either way, we highly recommend signing up for our free trial, where you can send up to 100GB for free. While it’s not a terabyte’s worth of data, it’s still a pretty great deal.

MASV File Transfer

Get 100 GB to use with the fastest, large file transfer service available today, MASV.