(BinarY TablE) The common unit of computer storage from desktop computer to mainframe. It is made up of eight binary digits (bits). A ninth bit may be used in the memory circuits as a parity bit for error checking. The term was originally coined to mean the smallest addressable group of bits in a computer, which has not always been eight.|
A byte holds the equivalent of a single character, such as the letter A, a dollar sign or decimal point. For numbers, a byte can hold a single decimal digit (0 to 9), two numeric digits (packed decimal) or a number from 0 to 255 (binary numbers).
The primary specifications of hardware are rated in bytes; for example, an 80-gigabyte (80GB) disk holds 80 billion characters of software and data. A 256-megabyte (256MB) memory allows 256 million characters of instructions and data to be held internally for processing.
Data and Text
With database files and word processing documents, the file size is slightly larger than the number of data characters stored in it. Word processing files contain embedded codes for layout settings (margins, tabs, boldface); therefore, a 100,000-byte document might hold 90,000 characters of text (approximately 30 pages). Database files contain codes that describe the data fields within the records, thus, a 500,000-byte database file might hold 450,000 characters of actual data.
Unlike data and text, the size of a graphics file is not entirely indicative of the size of the image contained within. A 500,000-byte vector graphics file may render a very detailed and elaborate drawing that could require 11x14" paper for printing, while a 500,000-byte bitmap file might be only a couple inches square. See bit.