Help & Information
Conversion Calculator for Bit to Byte to Kilobyte to Megabyte to Gigabyte to Terabyte to Petabyte to Exabyte. This uses the math based on the following.
1 byte = 8 bits
1 kb = 1024 Bytes
1 mb = 1048576 Bytes
1 gb = 1073741824 Bytes
1 tb = 1099511627776 Bytes
1 pb = 1125899906842624 Bytes
1 eb = 1152921504606846976 Bytes
1 zb = 1180591620717411303424 Bytes
1 yb = 1208925819614629174706176 Bytes
1 xb = 1237940039285380274899124224 Bytes
1 wb = 1267650600228229401496703205376 Bytes
1 vb = 1298074214633706907132624082305024 Bytes
1 ub = 1329227995784915872903807060280344576 Bytes
1 trb = 1361129467683753853853498429727072845824 Bytes
A common conundrum! The term Bit and Byte people get confused or misunderstand.
The software and computer industries often use binary estimates of the SI-prefixed quantities, while producers of computer storage devices prefer the SI values. This is the reason for specifying computer hard drive capacities of, say, 100 GB, when it contains only 93 GiB of storage space, which after formatting is less than that.
This byte converter / calculator is a derivative work of another calculator, though I cannot recall the original author. I used it as the basis for my extended version, adding everything terabyte and larger to it.
Bits & Bytes
The basic unit used in computer data storage is called a bit (binary digit). Computers use these little bits, which are composed of ones and zeros, to do things and talk to other computers. All your files, for instance, are kept in the computer as binary files and translated into words and pictures by the software (which is also ones and zeros). This two number system, is called a "binary number system" since it has only two numbers in it. The decimal number system in contrast has ten unique digits, zero through nine.
But although computer data and file size is normally measured in binary code using the binary number system (counted by factors of two 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, etc), the prefixes for the multiples are based on the metric system! The nearest binary number to 1,000 is 2^10 or 1,024; thus 1,024 bytes was named a Kilobyte. So, although a metric "kilo" equals 1,000 (e.g. one kilogram = 1,000 grams), a binary "Kilo" equals 1,024 (e.g. one Kilobyte = 1,024 bytes). Not surprisingly, this has led to a great deal of confusion.
In December 1998, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) approved a new IEC International Standard. Instead of using the metric prefixes for multiples in binary code, the new IEC standard invented specific prefixes for binary multiples made up of only the first two letters of the metric prefixes and adding the first two letters of the word "binary". Thus, for instance, instead of Kilobyte (KB) or Gigabyte (GB), the new terms would be kibibyte (KiB) or gibibyte (GiB). The new IEC International Standards, which are not commonly used yet, are included below.
Here's a few more details to consider:
- Although data storage capacity is generally expressed in binary code, many hard drive manufacturers (and some newer BIOSs) use a decimal system to express capacity.
- For example, a 30 gigabyte drive is usually 30,000,000,000 bytes (decimal) not the 32,212,254,720 binary bytes you would expect.
- Another trivial point is that in the metric system the "k" or "kilo" prefix is always lowercase (i.e. kilogram = kg not Kg) but since these binary uses for data storage capacity are not properly metric, it has become standard to use an uppercase "K" for the binary form.
- When used to describe Data Transfer Rate, bits/bytes are calculated as in the metric system
- Kilobits per second is usually shortened to kbps or Kbps. Although technically speaking, the term kilobit should have a lowercase initial letter, it has become common to capitalize it in abbreviation (e.g. "56 Kbps" or "56K"). The simple "K" might seem ambiguous but, in the context of data transfer, it can be assumed that the measurement is in bits rather than bytes unless indicated otherwise.