How many GB of storage do I need?

Determining how much storage space you need for your computer or mobile device can be tricky. The amount of storage you need depends on several factors, including what you use your device for and how many files, photos, videos, music, apps and other data you want to store. Here are some quick answers to common questions about storage needs:

What is a GB?

GB stands for gigabytes. A gigabyte is a unit of digital storage space that is equal to 1024 megabytes (MB). So 1 GB = 1024 MB. Knowing the size of a GB helps determine overall storage needs.

How many photos and songs can 1 GB store?

As a rough estimate:

  • 1 GB can store around 1000 digital photos taken with a 10 megapixel camera. Photo file sizes can vary a lot though based on resolution, quality and compression.
  • 1 GB can store around 200-300 songs in MP3 format. Song file sizes vary based on bitrate and length.

How much storage do I need for apps and programs?

Apps and programs can take up a large chunk of your overall storage space. Here are some guidelines:

  • A basic word processing app like Microsoft Word takes up 100-400 MB typically.
  • Games with complex graphics and levels can take 1-5 GB of space each.
  • Video editing programs like Adobe Premiere Pro take 5 GB or more.

Make sure to check the system requirements for any essential software you want to run to get an idea of how much space to allot for programs.

How much storage do I need for video?

Video files take up significant storage space. Here is how much storage video commonly requires:

  • 1 minute of standard definition video = approx. 30-100 MB
  • 1 minute of HD 1080p video = approx. 200-300 MB
  • 1 minute of 4K video = approx. 400-600 MB

So 1 hour of standard definition video would take up around 2-6 GB. Remember, video resolution, quality, frame rate and other factors affect file size too.

How much storage do I need for music?

On average, here is how much space music files take up:

  • 1 minute of low-quality MP3 music = approx. 1 MB
  • 1 minute of standard quality MP3 music = approx. 5 MB
  • 1 minute of high-quality MP3 music = approx. 10 MB
  • 1 minute of lossless FLAC music = approx. 30-50 MB

So a 3 minute song in MP3 format would be around 3-30 MB depending on quality. Keep in mind, thousands of songs add up in storage.

How much storage do I need for photos?

Digital photo file sizes vary substantially based on camera resolution, image quality and compression. Here are some typical photo storage requirements:

  • Low resolution photo from phone camera = 1-2 MB
  • Standard iPhone photo = 2-5 MB
  • High resolution DSLR photo = 10-25 MB
  • Raw DSLR photo = 25-50 MB

Storing thousands of high res photos from a DSLR takes up huge amounts of space. Consider optimizing photos to take up less room.

How much storage do I need for documents?

Documents generally take up very little storage space. Here are some estimates:

  • 1 page text document = 0.005-0.02 MB
  • PowerPoint presentation = 0.5-2 MB
  • Excel spreadsheet with heavy data = 2-5 MB

Hundreds of Word documents and PDFs can fit in just 1 GB. Documents shouldn’t take up much of your overall storage.

How much storage do I need for a laptop or desktop?

For a primary home or work laptop/desktop, here are some general storage guideline amounts:

  • Light use for web browsing, basic docs – 128 GB
  • Moderate use for some media, apps, programs – 256-512 GB
  • Power user with media libraries, games, video editing – 1-2 TB

Consider getting an external hard drive or cloud storage if your internal drive fills up.

How much storage do I need for a tablet or phone?

With mobile devices, storage needs depend largely on how many apps, photos, videos, music and other files you want to store locally. Here are some general guidelines for tablets and phones:

  • Mainly used for social media and web browsing – 16-32 GB
  • Moderate use including apps, light media – 32-128 GB
  • Heavy use with lots of games, media, programs – 128-512 GB

Keep in mind you can store files on the cloud instead of locally to save mobile device storage space.

How can I manage my storage space?

Here are some tips to better manage and optimize the storage space you have:

  • Delete unused apps and files you no longer need
  • Use cloud storage services like Dropbox to store files externally
  • Compress photos and videos to smaller file sizes
  • Stream music and movies instead of storing them all locally
  • Clean up duplicate files and temporary system files

How much storage is recommended for a gaming PC?

Here are some general guidelines for storage space needed for a decent gaming PC:

  • 250 GB SSD for the operating system and a few games
  • 1-2 TB HDD for storing most games and media files
  • High-end PC may need 2 TB SSD + 2-4 TB HDD

Many gamers use both an SSD for speed and HDD for capacity. Games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, and GTA V can take 50 GB or more per game install. Game storage needs add up fast.

How does cloud storage affect my needs?

Using cloud storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud and OneDrive can significantly reduce the amount of local storage you need. Some ways cloud storage helps:

  • Store files like photos, videos, music externally instead of device
  • Access files from any device connected to the cloud
  • Sync documents seamlessly between devices
  • Share large files without using local storage

125 GB of free cloud storage can store over 100,000 photos! Consider using cloud services to optimize storage.


Determining your ideal storage needs depends on how you use your devices and which files matter most to you. For many people today, aiming for 256-512 GB of laptop/desktop storage plus cloud storage provides a good balance of capacity and value. On mobile, 32-128 GB remains common for moderate usage. Evaluate your usage, storage priorities and budget to decide the amount of storage that makes sense for you.

Storage Size Reference Tables

File Type Typical Size
Digital photo (10 MP) 2-6 MB
Standard song (MP3) 3-5 MB
App/program 100 MB – 5 GB+
HD video (1080p) 200-300 MB/min
Word document 0.05-0.2 MB
Usage Pattern Recommended Storage
Laptop for work 128-512 GB
Gaming PC 500 GB – 4 TB
iPhone 32-256 GB
Android tablet 32-128 GB