English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

As you will probably work out from my profile, I'm a software developer. This is sort of a software development question, but I think this is more suited to English language too.

Feel free to migrate if you think the question does not belong here.

Say I want to refer to the data size, or capacity of something:

  • A floppy disk can hold 1.44 megabytes of data.
  • My flash drive can hold 16 gigabytes of data.
  • My internet connection can operate at a maximum of 50 gigabits per second
  • I have just managed to compress a file from 1 megabyte to just 200 kilobytes.

How do I collectively refer to these units of data size/capacity?

share|improve this question
Just like you did: "size units" or "capacity units". More generally, "units of digital information". Or "data size" (again, just as you did), or simply "size". Depends on the context, really. – RegDwigнt Apr 19 '14 at 14:34
up vote 5 down vote accepted

The capacity of a floppy disk is 1.44 megabytes.

The capacity of my flash drive is 16 gigabytes.

The throughput capacity of my internet connection is 50 gigabits per second.

(I would not change your fourth sentence.)

share|improve this answer

Don't mix bits and bytes. The generic term for bytes is storage hence storage capacity.

share|improve this answer

What do you think of "quantity of bytes"? The language in computer science is moving into an esoteric gibberish. No one tries to prune out all those nonsense and phantasy terms and use simple understandable names.

share|improve this answer

is information the word you are looking for ?

Byte is the unit of information.

  • Your floppy disk can hold 1.44 megabyte of information.
  • My internet connection can operate at a maximum of 50 gigabits (of information) per second

please see a close question:

What measures the Byte unit?

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.