

Key Words:

Bit, Byte, Kilobyte, Megabyte, Gigabyte, Terabyte



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Storage capacity is the term given to the maximum amount of data that can be stored on the media.

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Storage amounts are measured in 'bytes' and there are 8 bits in 1 byte.
Bits are short for 'binary digits'. This is the smallest unit of data that can be stored. Each 'bit' is represented as a binary number, either 1 or 0.
A single letter on a keyboard takes up 1 byte of storage (8 bits).

Examples: 

There are 8 bits (binary digits) in 1 byte of data.
(click to zoom)



There are 16 bits in 2 bytes of data.
(click to zoom) 


Floppy disks can't store very much data
(about 1.44 MB). 


CD's can hold about 800 MB of data. 


Hard disk drives can store terabytes of data. This is the equivalent of many libraries full of books. 

Computers read and process everything in the form of binary numbers. Each binary number takes up 1 bit of storage.

For example: 
The letter C looks like 01000011 to a computer. There are 8 binary numbers.... so 'C' takes up 8 bits or 1 byte of storage. 

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Click here for a text to binary converter to see what other keyboard characters look like in binary.


Storage Capacity Units:

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We refer to the storage capacities of different media in the following units:


Abbreviation 
Information 


Smallest unit of data (either a 1 or a 0) 

Byte 

1 byte = 8 bits 
Kilobyte 
KB 
1 KB = 1024 bytes 
Megabyte 
MB 
1 MB = 1024 Kilobytes 
Gigabyte 
GB 
1 GB = 1024 Megabytes 
Terabyte 
TB 
1 TB = 1024 Gigabytes 

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Storage media all have different storage capacities.


Hard disk drives have capacities in the terabytes.
Floppy disk drives can only hold 1.44MB of data. 


Storage Capacity Examples: 
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The table below gives you some realworld examples of approximately how much data we could store on storage media with different capacities:


How much Data could be Stored 

1 thousand characters (half a page of text) 
1 megabyte 
1 million characters (500 pages of text)

1 Gigabyte 
1 billion characters (500,000 pages of text) 
1 Terabyte 
1 trillion characters (1,000,000 thick books) 
