Which device has the highest storage capacity in computer?

When it comes to data storage, capacity is a top consideration for both personal and enterprise computing needs. As digital content and information continue to grow exponentially, so too does the demand for high-capacity storage devices and solutions.

What is Data Storage Capacity?

Storage capacity refers to the maximum amount of data that can be stored on a storage medium or device. It is typically expressed in terms of bytes, megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB), terabytes (TB) or petabytes (PB). The larger the number, the more data the device can hold.

For example, a USB flash drive with 32GB of storage space can hold up to 32 billion bytes of data. A 1TB hard disk drive can store 1 trillion bytes. Understanding capacities allows you to determine which device offers adequate room for your storage needs.

Measuring Digital Storage

Digital storage capacity is measured using the International System of Units (SI). The main units used are:

  • Byte – Basic unit of measurement.
  • Kilobyte (KB) – 1,000 bytes.
  • Megabyte (MB) – 1,000,000 bytes or 1,000 KB.
  • Gigabyte (GB) – 1,000,000,000 bytes or 1,000 MB.
  • Terabyte (TB) – 1,000,000,000,000 bytes or 1,000 GB.
  • Petabyte (PB) – 1,000,000,000,000,000 bytes or 1,000 TB.

Computer storage capacities have grown enormously over the decades. Where early personal computers offered MBs of storage, high-capacity enterprise solutions today are reaching millions of TBs, or exabytes (EB) of storage.

Factors that Determine Storage Capacity

Several key factors determine the total storage capacity that is achievable on electronic devices and media:

  • Physical size – The physical dimensions of a storage device or medium puts natural limits on capacity. Smaller devices tend to have lower overall capacities.
  • Firmware – The device’s firmware enables it to format and utilize its full hardware storage potential. Advanced firmware allows better storage optimization.
  • Technology – The underlying technology of the storage device impacts capacity. Newer technologies like flash offer greater storage density per volume than older ones like magnetic tape.
  • File systems – The file system defines how data is organized and accessed on a storage device. Some are more size-limited than others.
  • Compression – Compression algorithms can optimize data storage capacity by reducing the physical space files occupy.
  • Durability – More durable devices can withstand larger storage capacities by avoiding data degradation over time.

These factors allow storage engineers to develop increasingly high-capacity solutions to keep pace with growing data demands.

Types of High-Capacity Storage Devices

Several major categories of storage devices are capable of extremely high capacities for personal, enterprise, and data center needs:

Hard Disk Drives (HDDs)

HDDs store data on quickly rotating magnetic disks. They have traditionally offered the largest storage capacities among mainstream devices:

  • Consumer HDDs – Up to 16 TB per drive currently.
  • Enterprise HDDs – Up to 20 TB for 3.5″ drives and 18 TB for 2.5″ form factors.
  • Specialized HDDs – Helium-filled drives can reach up to 26 TB for data center applications.

Solid State Drives (SSDs)

SSDs have no moving parts, storing data in microchips instead. Enterprise and data center SSD capacities continue to grow:

  • Consumer SSDs – Up to 8 TB currently.
  • Enterprise SSDs – Up to 64 TB per drive utilizing quad-level cell (QLC) NAND flash.

Magnetic Tape

Magnetic tape drives are a longstanding high-capacity storage medium, with modern LTO (Linear Tape-Open) tape cartridges storing up to:

  • LTO-9 – 45 TB native; 90 TB compressed (600% compression ratio).
  • LTO-10 – Estimated 80 TB native; 160 TB compressed.

Higher capacities expected as technology improves.

Optical Discs

CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs utilize lasers and optics for data storage. Blu-Ray offers the largest mainstream optical capacities:

  • Single-layer BD discs – 25 GB per disc.
  • Dual-layer BD discs – 50 GB per disc.

Flash Drives

Small and portable thumb drives use flash memory for general data storage and transfer needs. Maximum USB flash drive capacities today are:

  • Up to 2 TB for USB 3.2 Gen 1 drives.
  • Up to 4 TB for USB 3.2 Gen 2 models.

Largest Single-Volume Storage Devices

Looking beyond mainstream storage devices, specialized high-capacity systems push the boundaries of single-volume storage capacity.

Hard Disk Drives

Commercial HDD technology tops out at around 26 TB currently. However, advanced drive engineering by Backblaze has yielded the world’s largest high-capacity HDDs:

  • Backblaze 105 HDD – 105 TB per drive.
  • Backblaze 135 HDD – 135 TB per drive.

These unprecedented HDDs use shingled magnetic recording (SMR) technology and high physical platter densities to achieve record-breaking individual drive capacities.

Solid State Drives

On the SSD front, Nimbus Data has produced the largest capacity single SSDs to date:

  • Nimbus ExaDrive DC100 – 100 TB per drive.
  • Nimbus ExaDrive DC100X – Up to 64 TB currently; 200 TB under development.

These super-high capacity enterprise SSDs utilize 3D flash memory with advanced NAND flash to deliver industry-leading solid state storage density.

Magnetic Tape Cartridges

For immense archive and backup needs, tape drives offer unparalleled single-cartridge capacities:

  • IBM 3592 – Up to 10 TB native per cartridge (20 TB compressed).
  • Oracle T10000 T2 – Up to 10 TB native; 30 TB compressed.
  • Spectra Logic Black Pearl – Up to 60 TB native per tape.

Purpose-built for colossal data centers, these ultra-high-end tape solutions deliver unmatched capacity for storing cold data.

Highest Capacity Storage Systems

Looking beyond standalone storage devices, complete storage area network (SAN) systems can offer mind-boggling capacities through vast scale-out architectures.

Hard Disk Drive Systems

Leveraging thousands of high-capacity HDDs, these systems achieve unprecedented Exabyte-level storage:

  • Seagate Exos AP 5U84 – Up to 2.72 Exabytes (2.72 billion GB).
  • DDN EZ8000 – Up to 10 Exabytes+ possible.

Massive drive counts and advanced data protection make these the largest HDD-based storage platforms in the world.

Solid State Drive Systems

All-flash storage arrays also reach mind-blowing capacities by combining high SSD counts:

  • Pure Storage FlashArray//XL – Up to 73.5 Petabytes (73,458 TB).
  • INFINIDAT InfiniBox SSA – Up to 2 Exabytes.

By eliminating mechanical HDD limits, these systems demonstrate the immense scale possible with enterprise flash storage.

Magnetic Tape Libraries

Automated tape libraries with extensive cartridge counts offer phenomenal archival storage potential:

  • IBM TS4500 – Up to 2.7 Exabytes natively using latest LTO-9 tapes.
  • Oracle SL8500 – Up to 1.6 Exabytes natively.

Built for cold data retention, these robotic tape solutions are unmatched for highly cost-effective long-term storage at scale.

Data Center Storage Capacities

At the cutting edge, hyperscale data centers for companies like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft represent the highest storage capacities worldwide.

Facebook’s Lulea, Sweden data center, for example, has an estimated storage capacity between 300-450 Petabytes. Google is estimated to have data centers with multi-Exabyte capacities in total, spread worldwide.

These capacities are achieved through massive deployments of high-density HDDs, SSDs, and tape drives across dedicated storage clusters and infrastructure.

The Future of Data Storage Capacity

Storage capacities will continue growing to keep pace with the world’s insatiable and accelerating data demands.

On the horizon, promising technologies like DNA data storage, atomic storage, holographic storage, and more could unlock truly unimaginable capacities surpassing any limits of current optical, magnetic, and flash storage.

With worldwide data expected to grow to over 160 zettabytes by 2025, the future of high-capacity storage looks brighter than ever.


In summary, while consumer storage devices like HDDs, SSDs, and flash drives are regularly pushing into the 10s of TBs, the largest single storage drives and systems in computing currently are:

  • Largest HDD: Backblaze 135 HDD – 135 TB capacity.
  • Largest SSD: Nimbus ExaDrive DC100 – 100 TB capacity.
  • Largest Tape Cartridge: Spectra Logic Black Pearl – 60 TB native.
  • Largest HDD System: DDN EZ8000 – 10+ Exabyte capacity.
  • Largest SSD System: Pure Storage FlashArray//XL – 73.5 Petabyte capacity.
  • Largest Tape Library: IBM TS4500 – 2.7 Exabyte native capacity.

Cloud data centers like Facebook’s and Google’s represent the upper limits of storage capacity currently reachable on Earth, using high-density HDD, SSD, and tape-based storage at hyper-scale deployments.

With rapid ongoing advances in storage technology and engineering, even greater capacities are sure to arrive in the near future to keep up with the world’s exponential data growth.