Data: all of the information transferred between and stored in computers.
Everything that happens on a computer, from word documents to emails to YouTube videos is data. It can be text files, audio and video, software for all of the different programs we run on our devices every day.
All of this data gets sent around between computers where they are processed by the computers CPU- the brain of the computer- and stored in its hard drive.
But what IS data? Think about bits, and how we said each can either be a 0 or a 1. This is called binary, and presents information as a series of 0’s and 1’s, each combination of which represents a particular character, symbol or number.
More specifically, the two numbers represent the two possible states of the system: on or off. 0 represents the absence of an electric signal (off) and 1 represents the presence of one (on).
Stringing these switches together into 8 or 16 digit combinations allows computers to send and store this information and display it.
But why use binary, when it requires more space to represent numbers and characters than a base ten system might- i.e. 150 (three digits in decimal base ten format) vs. the same number in binary: 10010110.
It seems like binary takes up more space, then. However, in order to represent all ten digits in decimal base format – 0 through 9- would require technology we do not yet possess (google quantum computers).
For now, computers can only register the absence or presence of an electrical signal, and so our data is defined by this binary system and will be for the foreseeable future.
- Data Transfer Rate
- Null Characters