What's a Gigabyte?

23 March 2017

what is a gigabyte?

We measure things in units. Units are the very helpful things that we humans have developed over time to determine what we observe about other things. A thing’s size, shape, and capacity are measured using clear mathematical standards so that we all know we’re speaking the same language. Everything can be measured in a unit, unless, of course, it can’t. Like feelings and such. 

Flock of Seagulls
Flock of Seagulls: Not an actual standard unit of measurement. For anything. At all. 

Let’s think about it: we know exactly what a cup of sugar, a gallon of gas, a liter of water, and flock of seagulls look like. But as consumers and regular mobile device users, we still have a difficult time figuring out what we’re paying for, in terms of our data plans. 

So let’s start answering some questions right here, right now. Once you’re empowered, you can compare your data plans and buy happy, faster. 

What is data?

Data is the computer code behind all the multimedia we consume, peruse, enjoy, and share on our mobile devices or personal computers. This means emails, pics, videos, music, apps, web pages, text messages everything you can imagine that you do on your phone is data. The more complex an object is, the more data it takes to construct it. The text is an email is a tiny amount of data compared with a video clip.

Okay, so what's a gigabyte?

Remember all that data we mentioned? Yeah, that needs to be measured. Data all needs to be broken up into units of measurement. 

The units of measurement for data begin with the tiniest one, a BIT. The units then work their way up in size. Most carriers will begin selling plans beginning somewhere with the middle size. It just makes the most sense. Carriers won’t sell you a BIT or BYTE data plan for the same reason a grocery store won’t sell you the crust from just one slice of bread. Technically it could be done but it’s just stone-cold crazy to do so. 

Actual Size? 0/1/0 a binary digit 8 Bits 1,204 Bytes 1,204 Kilobytes 1,204 Megabytes
How Much Data? Hi / bye A little bit more.  20KB = 1 plain text email 1 iTunes song 5MB,
Facebook App 10MB,
3 Web Pages 
68 short YouTube videos

A Gigabyte is a good size of data

We now know that a gigabyte is a hefty sized unit for data. This is the standard unit offered when it comes to data plan packages. There are bigger units of measurement out there: terabyte, petabyte, exabyte, and more but we won’t touch those since carriers don’t offer that much data in a cell phone plan. Carriers do offer unlimited data plans. Stop reading this article and go compare the best unlimited data plans right now. 

1GB will get you: 

  • 3,500 emails with 1 word document attachment or
  • 5,800 web page views or
  • 68 5-minute YouTube videos
  • 230 songs or 16 hours of music
  • 1.5 hours of your favorite movie

The above isn’t a total number. Each of those tasks would use 1GB by themselves.  

But 2 Gigabytes are better

Here's what a couple of smartphone data settings look like. One has used almost 25GB of data, the other, 14GB. The average person uses 2GB of data a month. Where are you? Check your settings, your plan, and compare to see if you can do better. Read more on the best unlimited data plans around to see what you need or if you even need unlimited data!


The average American uses 2.5GB of data per month. So before you sign away for unlimited data, have a good think about how much data you actually use. Here are some great 2GB+ plans:

Compare phones and plans right here!



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