Byte

Updated: 07/06/2021 by Computer Hope
Computer bit and byte

A byte is a term first coined by Werner Buchholz in 1956 and later became more of a standard thanks to Bob Bemer and others. A byte is a unit of memory data equal to either seven or eight bits depending on whether or not it needs error correction (parity). You can think of a byte as one letter, for example, the letter 'h' is one byte or eight bits and the word 'hope' as four bytes or 32 bits (4*8).

When looking at the size of a file, a byte is the smallest measurement size listed in operating systems. However, because most files are bigger than 1,024 bytes (one kilobyte), most users see small files listed in kilobytes.

Tip

A byte is spelled as "byte" and never as "bite."

How large is a byte?

The size of a byte depends on the computer hardware. Usually, it's eight bits. However, the size of a byte is not defined by any standard.

Assuming you used the de facto standard of eight bits in one byte, you could calculate the bits of a document by multiplying its byte size by eight. For example, if you had a text document that was 1,432 bytes you'd use: 1,432 * 8 to get a total of 11,456 bits.

Characters in a binary byte

An 8-bit byte can represent 256 individual characters. See our ASCII page for an example of 256 characters and their associated binary values.

What unit comes before a byte?

A nibble (typically four bits) comes before a byte.

What unit comes after a byte?

A kilobyte and kilobit come after a byte.

Converting bytes to another unit of data

Below is a listing of byte values in comparison to other units of measurements.

Byte (B) Value
Byte in a Bit (b) 0.125
Byte in a Nibble (N) 0.5
Byte in a Byte (B) 1
Bytes in a Kilobit (Kb) 125
Bytes in a Kilobyte (KB) 1,000
Bytes in a Kibibit (Kib) 128
Bytes in a Kibibyte (KiB) 1,024
Bytes in a Megabit (Mb) 131,072
Bytes in a Megabyte (MB) 1,000,000
Bytes in a Mebibit (Mib) 131,072
Bytes in a Mebibyte (MiB) 1,048,576
Bytes in a Gigabit (Gb) 125,000,000
Bytes in a Gigabyte (GB) 1,000,000,000
Bytes in a Gibibit (Gib) 134,200,000
Bytes in a Gibibyte (GiB) 1,073,741,824
Bytes in a Terabit (Tb) 125,000,000,000
Bytes in a Terabyte (TB) 1,000,000,000,000
Bytes in a Tebibit (Tib) 1,099,511,627,776
Bytes in a Tebibyte (TiB) 1,099,511,627,776
Bytes in a Petabit (Pb) 125,000,000,000,000
Bytes in a Petabyte (PB) 1,000,000,000,000,000,000
Bytes in a Pebibit (Pib) 140,700,000,000,000
Bytes in a Pebibyte (PiB) 1,000,000,000,000,000
Bytes in an Exabit (Eb) 125,000,000,000,000,000
Bytes in an Exabyte (EB) 1,152,921,504,606,846,976
Bytes in an Exbibit (Eib) 144,115,188,000,000,000
Bytes in an Exbibyte (EiB) 1,152,921,504,606,846,976
Bytes in a Zettabyte (ZB) 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Bytes in a Yottabyte (YB) 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

BIT, Hard drive terms, Measurement, Most significant byte, Nibble, Triplet, Word