Bits, bytes, kilobytes: What are those things?

January 21, 2009

When you are talking about measuring units of information on your computer it can be confusing. The smallest unit of information is called a bit. A bit is based on an on or off switch and is used to represent the digits 0 or 1. In a row of 8 bits there are 256 possible combinations. This amount of information in a computer is called a byte and that is what it takes to encode one letter or number. 1,024 k bytes = a kilobyte (K) 1,023 K = 1 megabyte (MB) or meg 1,024 MB = 1 gigabyte (GB) or gig What can we compare these too?

  • An entire font file takes up about 10-100k of disk space.
  • A CD holds about 700 megs.
  • A jump/thumb drive holds from .5 to 4 gigs.
  • A DVD holds about 8 gigs.

Most Macs ship with at least a 18- gig hard drive. In the graphics industry the programs can be real memory hogs. This has caused the size of hard drives shipped new to double about every 18 months. One of the easiest ways to add information storage to your computer is to add an external hard drive. They are available from 100 to 800 gigs. Most will work right out of the box without installing any software. They are available with USB or Firewire. Some units are small and portable Please send us your questions and comments.

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