“Kilo” means 1,000 in decimal systems. A kilobyte is a unit of measurement in digital information for determining digital storage equivalent to 1,000 bits in the decimal system. In the binary system (using base 2 as most computers do) a byte is 8 bits and therefor a kilobyte equals 1024 bytes (210 bytes).
The confusion between the decimal and binary definition of the kilobyte has led many international standards organisations to offer different prefixes for the binary system. Though officially adopted, the decimal usage continues to be prevalent in most consumer literature.
A kilobyte is typically abbreviated as ‘kB’ with the lowercase letter ‘k’ and uppercase letter ‘B’. In binary, the abbreviation is capital ‘K’ and ‘B’. However, the abbreviation of k in KB or kB is not necessarily or strictly followed.
Kilobytes are most typically used in measuring smaller file sizes. For instance, a common text file for documents contains about 10KB; a meagre amount of data compared to video file sizes which may contain hundreds of megabytes (MB, a million bytes) or a few gigabytes for an HD movie (GB, a billion bytes).
A computer system’s RAM is also measured in bytes. For example, modern desktop nowadays can hold about 2 to 4 GB (2,000-4,000 megabytes, MB; 2,000,000-5,000, 000 kilobytes, KB) megabytes of RAM (the computer memory used to store data and programs in a temporary basis – kind of like our short-term memory).
Where most of our computers today contain gigabytes (1,000 megabytes or 1,000,000 kilobytes) of RAM the earliest personal computers only supported 16kB of RAM.« Back to Glossary Index