Difference Between Bit and Byte

Difference Between Bit and Byte

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Vikram
Vikram Singh
Assistant Manager - Content
Updated on Feb 9, 2024 16:57 IST

A bit is the most basic unit of information in computing and digital communication, represented as 0 and 1, while a byte consists of eight bits. In this article, we will learn the difference between bit and byte in complete detail and at the end, we will also learn how many bytes in KB, MB, and GB.

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Bit and Byte are the smallest units of the data. The bit is the most basic (smallest) data unit in computing and digital communication, whereas on the other hand, the byte consists of eight bits. This article will discuss these two basic data units and their differences. 

Let’s start the article with the tabular comparison between Bit and Byte.

Table of Content

Difference Between Bit and Byte: Bit vs Byte

Parameter Bit Byte
Definition A bit is the most basic unit of information in computing and digital communication, represented as 0 and 1. A byte consists of eight bits.
Symbol b B
Size The smallest unit of data holds only one binary value (either 0 or 1) Larger than a bit (consists of 8 bits), and can represent 256 different values. 
Representation Represents only binary value. Represents a number, a letter, a symbol etc., depending on the encoding schema.
Conversion 8 Bit = 1 Byte 1 Byte = 8 Bit
Use Cases Used to measure data transfer (internet speed). Often used when discussing data storage or file size.

What is a Bit?

A bit is the fundamental unit of data, a portmanteau of “binary digit”. It is used to represent a logical state with one of the two possible values represented as ‘0’ and ‘1’. All the inputs we give to the computer, whether numbers, letters, audio, or video, are ultimately broken down into bits. It also represents the boolean value (true or false).

When bits combine, they can be used to represent more complex information.

Example: Consider an 8-bit binary number 10110011. Each digit in this number is a bit.

A bit is not just restricted to representing the boolean value or the information stored in the system it also represents data transfer rates (as in internet speed).

In simple terms, if your internet provider offers a plan with a speed of 100 Mbps, means you can download 50 million bits of data every second.

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What is a Byte?

A byte is made up of 8 bits, and due to its larger size compared to a bit, a byte can represent a much wider range of information. One of the fundamental uses of bytes is to represent characters in a text.

Example: In the ASCII coding system, a byte can represent any one of 256 possible values, ranging from 0 to 255.

In the ASCII system, the character ‘A’ is represented by the decimal number 65, which is represented by 01000001, an 8-bit (= byte) binary number.

Apart from representing the characters, it is often used to represent the file or memory size.

Key Differences and Similarities Between Bit and Byte

  • A bit is the smallest unit in computing, representing a single binary value, whereas a byte comprises 8 bits.
  • A bit can represent only two distinct values, whereas a byte can represent 256 combinations (2^8).
  • Bits are commonly used to express data transfer rates, such as internet speed (Kbps, Mbps, etc.), while Byte is used to express file size or storage capacity (e.g. MB, GB).
  • Both bit and byte are the fundamental digital information and storage units in computing and telecommunications.
  • Both use binary code (0 or 1) as their base representation of data.

Additional Information

How do we use Bits and Bytes?

  • 8 Bit = 1 Byte
  • 1,000 Byte = 1 KiloByte (KB)
  • 1,000 KB = 1 MegaByte (MB)
  • 1,000 MB = 1 GigaByte (GB)

How many patterns are with N Bits?

To calculate the number of patterns with N bits, we use the formula 2^N, where N is the number of Bits.

In this formula, we have taken 2^N since each bit can take only one of the two possible values (0 and 1), and there are N bits in total.

Number of Bits Different Patterns
1 1 0
2 11 10 01 00
3 111 110 101 011 001 010 100 000

Conclusion

In this article, we have briefly discussed the two fundamental units of data representation (i.e., Bit and byte) and their differences.

Hope you will like the article.

Keep Learning.

About the Author
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Vikram Singh
Assistant Manager - Content

Vikram has a Postgraduate degree in Applied Mathematics, with a keen interest in Data Science and Machine Learning. He has experience of 2+ years in content creation in Mathematics, Statistics, Data Science, and Mac... Read Full Bio