What Does Kilobyte Mean?

A kilobyte (KB) is a multiple unit used for binary data. Although "kilo" generally refers to 1,000, in computer science, one kilobyte often refers to 1,024 (2^10) bytes. It may also be used to refer to 1,000 bytes depending on the context. This measure is often used to describe memory capacity and disk storage.


Techopedia Explains Kilobyte

A bit is the smallest data measurement unit. A kilobyte is just a convenient way to specify a large number of bits and is equivalent to 8,000 bits under the International System of Units (SI) (or 8096 bits for computer programming and IT applications).

The kilobyte is applied in a variety of measurement contexts, including:

  • RAM or ROM Memory size
  • Processor cache size
  • The amount of storage available on media such as an SD memory chip or flash drive
  • Hard disk drive storage capacity
  • An iPhone memory chip capacity

In 2000, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) incorporated the International Electrotechnical Commission’s (IEC) formal approval of SI metric prefixes. Newly added SI terms included:

  • Kibibyte (KiB) equals 1,024 bytes
  • Mebibyte (MiB) equals 1,048,576 bytes
  • Gibibyte (GiB) equals 1,073,741,824 bytes

These new measurements have yet to make an impact in any areas of international information technology and are rarely used. The difference between the SI and binary measurements standards for data is approximately 4.86 percent.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…