Writings on technology and society from Wellington, New Zealand

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What exactly is a kilobyte? (or a Megabyte, or a Gigabyte)

There is a lot of confusion about this out there – some of it deliberate – as I said on the radio last week, but the usual definition is 2^10 bytes, which is 1,024 bytes.  Here’s a cartoonist’s take on the whole thing – it’s funny.

Incidentally, by the definition above, a megabyte is 1,024*1,024 which is about 1.04 million, and a Gigabyte is 1,024 times bigger again at 1.07 billion.

posted by colin at 7:20 am  


  1. The confusion was caused by the use of perfectly standard SI prefixes for nonstandard uses. Back when the difference was small (1024 – 1000 = 2.4%), it mattered less. Nowadays, the difference is nearly 7.5% for gigabytes, and will approach 10% for terabytes, so it is becoming a real problem.

    The right solution is abandon this nonstandard usage (which was never even self-consistent anyway), and use the official SI powers-of-two prefixes: “mebi” instead of “mega”, “gibi” instead of “giga”, and so on. No more ambiguity, problem solved.

    Comment by Lawrence D'Oliveiro — 13 March 2008 @ 4:51 pm

  2. […] [Via : » What exactly is a kilobyte? (or a Megabyte, or a Gigabyte).] […]

    Pingback by * The imaginary kilobyte, in TiKouka — 14 March 2008 @ 4:59 pm

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