IDC predicts that all of the data in the world, the datasphere, will grow to 221 zettabytes by 2026.That’s a compounded growth rate of about 21 percent*. It’s what some commentators refer to as a ‘data tsunami’! A zettabyte is a really big number – a trillion gigabytes no less –  but hold tight because new and bigger byte measurement terms have been added to the International System (IS) of Units in preparation for this huge wave (or even waves) of digital data.

As storage managers can attest, the amount of data that needs to be stored long term is immense and growing. These almost depthless oceans of information are necessary for organizations to accomplish customer service and marketing objectives as well as to address regulatory requirements. Because these deep stores of archive data are swelling so rapidly the IS has added two new byte terms to the unit measurement lineup: say hello to ronnabytes and quettabytes. 


Before we discuss the new terms, let’s first review those that already exist in order to get some perspective on the sheer humongous scale of big data we are trying to manage in 2023. We mentioned zettabyte which is represented by a 1 followed by 21 zeroes or 1021. The predecessor to a zettabyte is the exabyte or 1018. An exabyte is equivalent to about 1.5 billion CD-ROM discs whereas a zettabyte is about 1.5 trillion CD-ROM discs. It’s hard to fathom that astronomic amount of information. And yet, following the zetta is yotta and now two new terms: ronna and quetta which leads us into the stratosphere of data storage. Here are their numbers: 

Ronnabyte is 10 to the 27th power or 1027 or 1000000000000000000000000000 bytes

A Quettabyte is 10 to the 30th power or 1030 or 1000000000000000000000000000000 bytes

I mentioned that a zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes. At this kind of scale, it becomes a little difficult to express these terms in a way that our imaginations can visualize. But in so much as one zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes of data, so a quettabyte is a trillion exabytes. If this still seems a little mind boggling, here is the full list for reference.

  • Byte (8 bits)
  • Kilobyte (1024 Bytes)
  • Megabyte (1024 Kilobytes)
  • Gigabyte (1,024 Megabytes, or 1,048,576 Kilobytes)
  • Terabyte (1,024 Gigabytes)
  • Petabyte  (1,024 Terabytes, or 1,048,576 Gigabytes)
  • Exabyte (1,024 Petabytes)
  • Zettabyte (1,024 Exabytes)
  • Yottabyte (1,024 Zettabytes)
  • Ronnabyte (1,024 Yottabytes)
  • Quettabyte (1,024 Ronnabytes)

Imagine the largest tape libraries currently available. Various models exist which can provide around an exabyte of native capacity using LTO-9 cartridges stored in upwards of 50,000 slots. Now imagine a trillion of them.


Okay, the magnitude of those numbers is enormous but what does it mean to the IT storage manager? It means that long term storage is rapidly expanding and therefore requires a strategic placement in the data center to achieve economic, decision making and data protection goals.

And when it comes to long term storage planning, there is one technology that can be a key player in that storage management strategy. That’s right: it’s our familiar friend, LTO technology. Here are some of the reasons why LTO technology is still giving IT organizations those good vibrations:

  • High Capacity – The latest LTO-9 tape stores up to 45 terabytes of compressed data
  • Roadmap to the Future – The LTO technology roadmap shows future cartridge capacities of up to 1.44 petabytes compressed
  • Reliable – LTO-9 technology has a bit error rate that is about five orders of magnitude better than hard disk drives
  • Ransomware Protection – When a tape is removed from the drive an air gap is created between the tape data and the system preventing access by cyber criminals and malicious software
  • Economic – LTO technology has been shown to be the least costly form of digital storage

The datasphere is expanding, data stores are growing and LTO technology is ready for the task. See all of the key LTO data retention and protection features here. And let’s hope that with ronna’s help, IT organizations will have some peace and quetta in the years to come!

* Worldwide IDC Global DataSphere Forecast, 2022–2026: Enterprise Organizations Driving Most of the Data Growth, IDC #US49018922, 2022