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Bytes, Kilobytes, and Megabytes

Ever wonder how come you can't download any more files? What does it mean that I have no more room? Well computer memory is measured, and it has a limited amount. The basic unit is a byte (pronounced 'bite') Basically, one letter in a document is one byte. Therefore, John's Page would be 11 bytes (9 letters, 1 symbol, 1 space). You can relate the byte to an inch. Of course after you have many inches you have a foot! After you have many bytes (1024 to be exact) you have a kilobyte. After feet come yards. After kilobytes come megabytes, which are 1024 kilobytes. Then finally you have a gigabyte which is 1024 megabytes. Most computers now come with over 20 gigabytes so you have plenty of room. Then there is the almighty Terabyte(1024 GB), but only major corporations have hard drives with this much capacity. If you still don't understand, maybe the chart below can help you out.



Rough Size

Actual Size



1 byte

1 byte



1,000 bytes

1,024 bytes



1,000,000 bytes or

1,000 KB

1,048,576 bytes



1,000,000,000 bytes or

1,000,000 KB or

1,000 MB

1,073,741,824 bytes

TB Terabyte 1,000,000,000,000

bytes or

1,000,000,000 KB


1,000,000 MB


1,000 GB


bytes (If my calculations are correct)


The reason that the number of "actual bytes" is different from the "rough size" is due to the fact that computer numbers always have to be 2 to the power of X. If you don't understand, don't worry, it won't affect you.

Floppy Disks hold about 1.44 MB. CDís hold about 600-700 MB. Hard Drives hold anywhere from 800 MB to 20+ GB.

Text is not the only information that takes up room on your disk. Images and Graphics are recorded in bytes as well.

To find out how much space you have left on your hard drive, you just go to 'My Computer' on your desktop. At the top menu bar, select View. Make sure 'as Web Page' is checked. If it's not, click on it. Then click ONE TIME on C: and on the left you will see a pie graph like this one.

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