Q. Bits, bytes and megabytes confuse me, Mr. M. What's the difference between a bit and a byte?
A. A bit, which is shorthand for "binary digit," is the smallest unit of data recognized by a computer, with the possible exception of Cheese Doodle crumbs in the keyboard. Eight bits equal one byte, and a byte is a character such as the letter "a" or the numeral "7".
1,000 bytes equal a kilobyte, which is abbreviated KB - not to be confused (which it always is) with a kilobit, which is abbreviated kb. So as if things weren't confusing enough, 1,000KB and 1,000kb are not the same.
1,000KB (kilobytes) equal 1 million bytes (1000 x 1000), and that's known as a megabyte, which is abbreviated MB.
1,000MB (megabytes) is a gigabyte or GB. Hard drives are usually described in terms of gigabytes, which represents their size or capacity, such as a 14GB hard drive.
1,000GB (gigabytes) is a terabyte or TB.
1,000TB (terabytes) is an overbite, and any competent orthodontist should be able to resolve that condition.
Q. I heard you on the radio not too long ago and you mentioned something about backing up data into cyberspace. Could you explain that a little bit more?
A. Thanks for listening to me on PC Chat. Just as an FYI, our radio show is now heard twice a week, on Thursday nights from 7 to 8 PM, and Saturday afternoons from 2 to 3 PM on KXAM, 1310 AM, and Web cast at www.pcchatshow.com.
Now, to answer your question, off-site storage requires no additional hard drives, disks, or tapes. Instead, you back up your data to the Internet. Cost depends on the amount of storage space (megabytes or gigabytes) you need. Cool, huh? There are a number of these services available, but three of the most popular ones are:
@backup (www.backup.com). Requires downloadable software. Free 30-day trial. 50MB of storage for $49.95 per year.
Ibackup (www.ibackup.com) Requires downloadable software. Storage area appears as local drive on your hard drive, i.e. Drive E or F or G, etc. 50MB costs $3/per month or $30 per year.
Zapways (www.zapways.com). Mr. Modem's personal favorite. No software is required. 1MB is free; 250 MB is just $9.95/month.
Q. Can I store my saved emails in My Documents instead of in Outlook Express?
You sure can. Start by creating a folder in My Documents called "My Mail" (or any other name you wish), by clicking File > New > Folder.
Next, open Outlook Express and click Tools > Options > Maintenance tab > Store Folder.
Click the Change button and navigate to your newly created "My Mail" folder. Double-click to select it as the file in which to save your email.
To save a message, with a message displayed on screen, click Edit > Move to Folder and select your new folder.
Mr. Modem's Web Sites of the Week:
Pulitzer Prize Winners
Directory of current and past Pulitzer Prize winners. Dynamite site! Look for your friends and neighbors. Yeah, right.
Preschool Coloring Book
No, you don't need to buy a training mouse for your preschooler, but this site provides coloring pages you can print out that will help the little ones in your life learn to write the letters of the alphabet, draw flowers, butterflies, shapes, animals, Anna Nicole Smith, and other life forms with pre-school level intelligence. On particularly tough days, Mr. Modem breaks out his Crayolas and tries to stay within the lines, too.
Would you like to know what your kids are watching at the movies or what you're getting into before you purchase a ticket at the local Bijou? This site reviews the content of movies and videos to help you decide if a cinematic offering is suitable for your children -- or yourself. Rating categories include Alcohol/Drugs, Blood/Gore, Disrespectful/Bad Attitude, Smoking, Violence, Sex/Nudity, and profanity. Each category is rated from "None" to "Extreme."
(Would you like prompt, personal answers to your computer questions, plus easy-to-understand tips, virus alerts, Web sites, hoax warnings and more? Mr. Modem's weekly newsletter delivers! For more information, visit www.MrModem.com.)