Bits & Bytes – Memory Units Explained

There has always been a big confusion regarding Bits and Bytes in memory and storage terminologies. People have been confused to the point where they have used them synonymously without considering the sheer amount of damage that could cause. So in this article let’s have a look at what they mean and quickly try to understand when and where to use each one.

What is a Bit?

A Bit is the smallest unit of data relative to which all data is measured. It is usually associated with Internet speed. For eg: I have a 10 Mbps internet connection.

What is a Byte?

Though a Byte is not the smallest unit of data, it is still used to measure a lot of data. A Byte is a collection of 8 Bits. Hence, 1 Byte = 8  X  1 Bit. For eg: I have a 10 MB video file.
It is important to note that in both the above examples, b & B were used for Bit and Byte respectively. The lowercase b is for Bit and the uppercase B is for Bytes, so next time you see these you know what they mean.
Since the relation and distinguishing factor between Bits & Bytes has been established, Let us now look at the higher memory units from the table below.
 

Name Description
1 Bit Smallest unit of data.
1 Nibble Equal to 4 Bits
1 Byte Equal to 8 Bits
1 Kilo-byte Equal to 1024 Bytes
1 Mega-byte Equal to 1024 Kilo-Bytes
1 Giga-Byte Equal to 1024 Mega-Bytes
1 Tera-Byte Equal to 1024 Giga-Bytes
1 Peta-Byte Equal to 1024 Tera-Bytes

 
From the above chart, you can see that each unit is 1024 times the previous units(in Bytes). Now you might be wondering why is it in Bytes.

The Answer

In the early days of computing, bytes were not as common and memory was expensive. So whatever work happened was in Bits. And later on, it just became a convention to use Bits in some places. But in the recent times due to growth in computers we have excelled in storage and memory units and using bits would just be a little messy and unconventional.

Conclusion

A bit is the smallest unit of data and is still being used to denote internet speeds. But when it comes to heavy files and computer hardware Bytes are being used to denote them simply because it is more relevant today.
I hope the confusion about Bits & Bytes is clear. Feel free to comment down your doubts and I will be there for you.

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