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Demystifying The Byte Conversion


In terms of measures of capacity or size, computer scientists prefer to count things using powers of two. This system is convenient because digital computers use the binary number system.


Table 1 shows the powers of 2 that are most often used. As the table shows, the abbreviation for 210 is K, where the K comes from the stem “kilo”. The prefix kilo is used because 1024 is closest to 1000. Similarly, the prefix mega is used for 220 because its value is closest to 1,000,000. When these units are used to specify storage capacity of a machine, we really do mean the exact power of 2. For example, a machine that has 8 megabytes of memory has 8 X 2020 bytes, or 8,388,608 bytes of memory.

Table 1: Commonly used powers of 2 and their abbreviations

Power of 2 Value Abbreviation
210 1,024 Kilo of K
220 1,048,576  Mega or M 
230 1,073,741,824  Giga of G 
240 1,099,511,627,776 Tera or T


A directory Temp2 will be used in the following examples with real data results obtained from the NT Resource Kit utility Diruse.exe.
    diruse       Temp2 results in 674369228 bytes
    diruse /k   Temp2 results in 658563.92 KB
    diruse /m  Temp2 results in 643.13 MB





Download the ByteConvert.exe utility