Web Hosting Tutorial Series

Video #5: What are bits, bytes, megabytes and gigabytes?

This video tutorial will teach you about the units of measurements used in the world of computing.

The smallest unit of measurement on a computer is a binary digit; also know as the “bit”. There are almost always eight bits in one “byte”. A byte is the fundamental data unit for computers and is the unit most computers use to represent a character such as a letter, number, or symbol. It is also the basic unit of measurement for computer storage.

Because they are so similar, these two terms are commonly confused with each other. Not to mention the abbreviation for these two units of measurement – a lowercase b for “bit”, an uppercase B for “byte” – are also easy to confuse. To further complicate the matter, all of the compound forms of bits and bytes – kilobyte (KB), megabyte (MB), gigabyte (GB), etc. – can refer to two different values. Sometimes you’ll see kilobyte and it means 1000 bytes, while it can also mean 1024 bytes.

Why this is true is a much longer and more complicated conversation. In any case, a megabyte refers to roughly 1024 kilobytes, and a gigabyte refers to roughly 1024 megabytes. Gigabytes are currently the most common term being used to describe the size of a hard drive. At the next level is terabytes, and hard drives really haven’t gotten any further past that at this point in time.

One other important thing you should know is that whenever you hear about the speed of an Internet connection, it’s almost always going to be referred to in bits, whether that’s kilobits, megabits, or gigabits.

So just keep in mind that whenever “bits” is used, it should be abbreviated with a small b. For example: kilobits = Kb, megabits = Mb, and gigabits = Gb. The speed of a connection would be referred to “megabits per second” or Mbps. This means a 100 Mbps connection can transfer 100 megabits every second, which equates to 12.5 megabytes per second.

Up Next:

Now that we’ve talked about the units of measurement used to measure computer space, let’s discuss how much of it you need for your website.

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