All about bits

You might have heard the word before, but most people don’t know what a “bit” actually is. It’s a unit of measurement for computers. A bit is actually just a one or a zero. That seems like it might not be useful, but a bit makes up everything we do on computers. Eight bits equals one byte, which is usually used to represent a letter. These ones and zeros are also known as “binary code,” due to having only two values.

Once you have bytes, you can store letters. For example, 00000001 is an “a.” One thousand of these bytes equals a kilobyte. One thousand of these kilobytes are a megabyte, also known as MB. One thousand megabytes is a gigabyte, or GB.

Here’s where things actually get useful. Most pictures taken by decent cameras and smartphones today are between 2 and 10 MB, depending on quality and the variety of colors in the picture. For example, if you have a 16GB card for pictures you will be able to store about 1,600 of the “big” pictures. For a lower resolution, you could fit up to 8,000 pictures.

You’ll sometimes see PCs with the label 1TB or terabyte, which is 1,000 gigabytes. As you can imagine, that will fit a lot of pictures. There are levels above terabyte, but that’s not anywhere in the near future for home or even business users.

The other time you see this sort of designation is when buying your internet. You’ll see things like 5mb/s, 10mb/s, etc. This means megabits per second. This is a bit of an oddity in the computing world. Instead of measuring by the standard megabytes, megabits are used to make the numbers bigger. Megabytes are actually eight megabits, so 8mb/s is 1MB/s. So, if you were downloading a 2MB file with 8mb/s internet, it would take about two seconds.

This part is a bit confusing, but just know that higher is better. Generally, I like to recommend 10mb/s internet for a good experience for one or two users at a time.

If you’re ever curious what speed you’re actually getting, you can go to or or even and you’ll be able to test it.

If you have any questions concerning computers or tech support contact us at or call the Citizen at 831-3455.

Updated: January 22, 2019 — 3:28 pm