Data Storage Units: KB, MB, GB, & TB Video

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  • 0:03 Data Storage Units
  • 0:31 Bits and Bytes
  • 1:21 Larger Units
  • 3:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ian Lord

Ian is a real estate investor, MBA, former health professions educator, and Air Force veteran.

You may know your smartphone holds 64 GB, but do you really know what that means? In this lesson we will review what the definition the definition of a byte as well as how the metric system can be used to express large units of data storage.

Data Storage Units

Josh has grown up with computers as a part of his daily life and is familiar with terms such as megabyte and gigabyte. However, other than knowing that more gigabytes means more storage space, he knows little about the underlying computer science foundation of these terms. Let's help Josh start at the beginning and understand the fundamentals of information storage, as well as become familiar with the meaning of various units of data measurement.

Bits and Bytes

At the foundational level, all electronic data is composed of a binary digit. The digit is expressed as the number 0 or 1. This binary digit is known as a bit. Every other unit of information expresses a larger number of bits, so that we can work with terms that are more easily understood. It would be difficult for Josh to express and understand how many songs could fit on a smartphone if we had to speak in terms of billions of bits.

Distinct from a bit is a byte. A byte is a string of eight binary digits. In the eight digit string there are 256 possible combinations of 0s and 1s in sequence. This string can represent a letter in a text message or even the location or color of a pixel on the screen.

Larger Units

In common usage, we refer to data storage or file size in metric prefixes. Each kilobyte (KB) is equivalent to 1,000 bytes. A single kilobyte could be enough data for Josh to send about five different 200 character text messages, since each character is equivalent to one byte.

The next unit of measurement is the megabyte (MB). A megabyte is equal to 1,000 KB. A data CD can hold about 600 MB of information, which is enough for Josh to begin storing video and music files, although with modern file sizes the disc may only be able to hold a few songs or minutes of high resolution video.

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