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Internet Education

Megabytes (Mb) vs Megabits (MB)

Units of measurement for the Internet.

     One main concern when it comes to the internet and how we use data is the speed at which the information is delivered to us. So how do you know what your looking at? When referring to computers the terminology can get confusing but basically all pieces of data are measured in bits. Bits are the smallest pieces of information in terms of computers and a group of 8 of them are called a byte. The prefix added on to the front, can be Kilo,Mega,Giga,and Tera all meaning 1000 times greater than the previous one. When talking about storage like pictures or movies they are measured in bytes.


     When talking about your internet speed however they are measured in bits. There is a reason for this. When computers are talking to each other or data is flowing from one place to another, there is information attached to whatever is being sent that ensures data is transported with no errors. The attached information is very small and measured in bits. In terms of accessing a file,z Bytes are the most fundamental storage unit in a computer as you can not directly access a storage unit smaller than a byte on a computer. 


     So what does it all mean? Bandwidth is measured in bits, storage capacity in bytes. Let’s say your network upload speed is 8 Mbps (megabits per second), that means that the absolute most you can upload is 1 MB (megabyte) of data from your hard drive per second or a 1000 MB movie being downloaded over a network with the internet speed of 100 mbps it would take just under a minute and thirty seconds. 


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