Contact Us Today! 1-844-237-4300
4 minutes reading time (739 words)

Tech Term: Bits and Bytes

Tech Term: Bits and Bytes

Running a business sometimes requires attention to very minute details, and some things must be measured in order to achieve optimal efficiency. You’ve likely heard the terms bits and bytes used regarding data storage or transfer, but do you know what the difference is between them? Today’s tech term is dedicated to this explanation.

One of the first things you’ll notice when you go to buy a new computer is how much data the hard drive can store and how much random access memory (RAM) it contains. You might see numbers like 500GB or 2TB. The easiest way to explain this is by looking at the basics of data measurement. You can think of a bit as the smallest form of data measurement on a computer. Computers use binary math to showcase each potential digit as a bit. Each bit has a value of a 0 or 1. These bits are generated by the computer’s electrical current that activates the various internal components. These changes in voltage are used to transmit the bits, process calculations, and relay data across the network.

Here are some of the methods used during network message encoding:

  • Wi-Fi carries bits using radio signals
  • Ethernet connections carry bits using electric signals of varying voltages
  • Fiber connections use pulses of light to carry bits

Ideally, the bits are encrypted so that they can’t be interpreted without permission.

On the other hand, the byte is a fixed sequence of bits. Technology today relies on organizing data into bytes to increase the speed and efficiency of data processing. Bits are often too small to measure data, which is why a byte is easier to use as the standard measurement.

The rate at which a computer network connection is measured is through time (bits per second), and today’s technology has advanced so far that it can transmit millions, or even billions, of bits per second (called megabits (Mbps) or gigabits (Gbps). The speed at which this data is transferred depends on the size of the file sizes or components transferring the data.

This is one of the reasons why gigabit network switches and other devices exist. If a device can support 1 Gbps, it transfers a single gigabit per second. Depending on your infrastructure, you might need to transfer more than this amount of data so that the network can operate smoothly. Other devices on your network will also play a major role in determining what your overall maximum speed is.

Breaking Down the Numbers
Since every byte is eight bits, you could safely assume that a kilobyte is 1,000 bytes, but you would be mistaken. Computers use binary systems, so your hard drives, memory, and bandwidth are all measured in powers of two. Thus, 2 ^ 10 equals 1,024, not 1,000. This makes looking at the specific numbers somewhat confusing for the average user.

If you look at everyday examples of this in practice, it becomes a little easier to understand and work with. Take a look at your IP address. This contains a string of 32 bits (or four bytes). An IP address with a value of has values of 192, 168, 1, and 1 for each of its bytes. If you look at the encoding of this IP address, it would look like this:

11000000 10101000 00000001 000000001

This means that:

  • 192 = 1100000
  • 168 = 1010100
  • 1 = 00000001

How to Convert Bits to Bytes (and Beyond)
If you ever need to convert bits to bytes or otherwise, here are the numbers.

  • 8 bits = 1 byte
  • 1,024 bytes = kilobyte
  • 1,024 kilobytes = megabyte
  • 1,024 megabytes = gigabyte
  • 1,024 gigabytes = terabyte

If you want to convert four kilobytes into bits, you need to first convert the kilobytes to bytes (4 x 1,024) and then use that total (4,096) to convert to bits (8 x 4,096 = 32,768).

From a consumer standpoint, if you purchase a hard drive that has a terabyte of data, it’s real value is about 8 trillion bits. Hard drive manufacturers measure content by rounding down to 1,000 megabytes per gigabyte, even though most computers will use the 1,024 number. This is why when you purchase a new terabyte hard drive, you’ll notice that about 35 gigabytes aren’t immediately available. In the case of a workstation, the operating system will also consume a certain amount of data on the drive.

Did we answer some of your questions about computing and the specifics of bits vs bytes? Let us know in the comments what you would like to see covered in our tech term articles.

Central Technology Solutions Becomes Virtual CIO f...
Can Hosted VoIP Be a Game Changer for Your Busines...

Related Posts



No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Saturday, August 18 2018
If you'd like to register, please fill in the username, password and name fields.

Captcha Image

Join our mailing list!

  • Company Name *
  • First Name *
  • Last Name *

      Mobile? Grab this Article!

      QR-Code dieser Seite

      Tag Cloud

      Security Tip of the Week Best Practices Cloud Technology Business Computing Privacy Email Malware IT Services Productivity Hackers Hosted Solutions Managed IT Services Internet IT Support Network Security Software Outsourced IT Data Mobile Devices Data Backup Ransomware Microsoft Backup Computer Tech Term Business Innovation Hardware Data Recovery Smartphone Google Internet of Things Small Business Managed Service Provider Business Continuity Data Management Windows 10 Cloud Computing Android Social Media Remote Monitoring Managed IT Communication Disaster Recovery Productivity BYOD Windows Smartphones Paperless Office Facebook Browser Efficiency User Tips Encryption Artificial Intelligence VoIP Risk Management IT Support App Cybersecurity Mobile Device Robot Business Management Gmail Phishing Unified Threat Management Applications Recovery Upgrade Mobile Device Management Save Money Firewall Saving Money Bandwidth Hosted Solution Compliance Office 365 Telephone Systems Money Apps SaaS Bring Your Own Device Holiday Data storage Content Filtering Government Going Green Passwords Document Management Vendor Management Tip of the week Password Big Data Network Virtualization Server Chrome BDR Infrastructure Wi-Fi Apple Data Security File Sharing Data loss Vulnerability Virtual Reality Website Miscellaneous Regulations Computing Workplace Tips IT Service Windows 10 Computers Collaboration IT Management Storage Wireless Work/Life Balance Managed Service Automation Analytics Remote Computing Antivirus Router Project Management Two-factor Authentication Unified Communications Employer-Employee Relationship Training Mobility Virtual Private Network Mobile Computing Upgrades Hacker Internet Exlporer Social Network Management HIPAA Twitter Administration Blockchain Tablet Assessment Business Technology Server Management Wireless Technology Legal LiFi How To Education Files Mobile Security IT solutions Uninterrupted Power Supply End of Support Health Office Tech Support Budget Monitors Microsoft Office Alert Politics Information Technology Sports Word Digital Payment Managed IT Services Redundancy Printing Websites Mouse Identity Theft communications Outlook How To Samsung IoT The Internet of Things Licensing Quick Tips Scam Google Drive Smart Technology Flexibility Settings VPN Chromebook Business Growth Spam Patch Management Avoiding Downtime Help Desk WiFi Customer Service YouTube Customer Relationship Management MSP Servers Data Breach Distributed Denial of Service Annual Convention Machine Learning Downtime Recycling Printer Writing Alerts Emoji Humor Comparison Identity Drones GPS Utility Computing Network Congestion Backups Development Deep Learning OneNote Disaster Trending Computer Repair Cookies Solid State Drive Managing Stress Google Calendar Proactive Technology Laws Managed IT Service Physical Security San Diego Supercomputer eWaste Mail Merge Access Control Retail Cooperation Cortana Crowdsourcing Current Events Touchscreen Techology Specifications 3D Printing Alt Codes Tracking Healthcare VoIP Sponsor Display G Suite History Virtual Desktop Cables Legislation IT Technicians Processors Taxes Employee-Employer Relationship Permissions Nanotechnology Cryptocurrency Google Maps Enterprise Content Management Consultation Lenovo Remote Monitoring and Management Statistics Office Tips Break Fix Social Networking Private Cloud IT Budget Management Address SharePoint Staff Disaster Resistance Black Friday Unsupported Software Roanoke — Central Technology Solutions Virus Typing Cost Management Digital Obstacle Unified Threat Management Hotspot Update Hacks Cabling Wires Mirgation Best Practice Connectivity Remote Workers Search Fraud Electronic Medical Records Screen Reader Bitcoin Vulnerabilities Superfish Marketing WPA3 Bluetooth Dark Web Motherboard Operating System Enterprise Resource Planning Downloads Social Engineering Augmented Reality USB Proactive IT Cyber Monday Mobile Data technology services provider Buisness Hard Drive Spyware Course User Error Language Gadgets Software as a Service Migration Telephony Information Shortcut Smart Tech Windows 8 Sync Save Time Geography Law Enforcement Fleet Tracking Dark Data Data Warehousing Personal Information Identities Public Cloud Mobile Firefox Safety Operations Heating/Cooling IT Consulting Technology Assurance Group ’s 18 Botnet Cache Maintenance Computing Infrastructure Travel Users Technology Tips Chatbots Notifications Google Wallet Star Wars WannaCry Net Neutrality Mobile Device Managment Software Tips High-Speed Internet Time Management Networking Gadget Asset Tracking Hacking Microsoft Excel Modem Hard Drives Automobile Google Docs Computer Care Company Culture Multi-Factor Security Wearable Technology Black Market CrashOverride Motion Sickness CCTV Administrator Relocation Meetings Webcam IT Consultant Point of Sale Error Cybercrime Hard Disk Drive Web Server Regulation Monitoring Cameras Emergency