Units of measuring data in digital world

Units of measurement help you differentiate between big and small. There are different measurement units for length, weight, distance, time etc. In the digital world the most important thing that has to be measured is data. In this tutorial you will learn about the measurement units which are used for measuring data in computers.

If you are told that the pizza shop is 1 KM from your house and the coffee shop is 10 KM from your house then you will immediately understand that the pizza shop is near and coffee shop is far from your house. This is because you are familiar with the units of measuring distance.

Similarly if you want to learn about digital devices you have to learn about the units which are used for measuring the data. By understanding the units for measuring data you will be able to tell the difference between small and large data.

Bit – Smallest unit of measuring data

Bit is the smallest unit of data in all computers. A bit can store either 1 or 0. By 1 and 0 we do not mean numbers 1 and 0. It means two different states. If suppose you have a glass of water and we say that if the water in the glass is above the half mark we will consider it as 1 and if it is below the half mark we will consider it 0 then 0 and 1 become names to two different logical states. Because computers are an electronic system these states are measured in voltages. Low voltages are considered as 0 and high voltages are considered as 1.

Byte – 8 bits make 1 byte

1 Byte = 8 bits

Byte is generally used as the base measurement unit for data. It is also the smallest addressable unit of memory. By this we mean that inside the RAM each byte of data is given a unique address. Just like in a residential area each house is given a number, in computers each byte of memory is assigned a numeric address. We will discuss about this more when we will talk about the structure of the RAM.

Generally small b is used to represent a bit whereas capital B is used to represent a byte.

Kilo Byte

1 KB (Kilo bytes) = 1000 bytes
1 Kb (Kilo bits) = 1000 bits

Mega Byte

1 MB (Mega bytes) = 1000 KB
1 Mb (Mega bits) = 1000 Kb

Giga Byte

1 GB (Giga bytes) = 1000 MB
1 Gb (Giga bits) = 1000 Mb

Tera Bytes

1 TB (Tera bytes) = 1000 GB
1 Tb (Tera bits) = 1000 Gb

A small difference to know about

When you read about Kb, Mb, Gb etc on the internet or in books you might read 1 KB = 1024 Bytes and 1 MB = 1024 KB. Actually in digital calculations 1 KB = 1024 Bytes, but in our day to day terminologies we consider Kilo as 1000 and not 1024. Both these conversions are correct depending on the context in which these conversions are done. So if you are using this tutorial to prepare for some exam then we will suggest that you refer to your textbook and see what conversion formula has been used there.

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