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Difference Between Megabyte and Gigabyte

Megabyte vs Gigabyte

The basic unit of any digital storage is the bit, which can store a single 1 or 0; these are then grouped into 8 and called a byte. Over the years, the amount of memory has constantly increased. We then had the kilobyte, then the megabyte, and now the gigabyte. There are other much higher labels but those are not yet as common. The main difference between the megabyte and the gigabyte is how many bytes they contain. A megabyte contains 220 bytes (1,048,576 bytes) while a gigabyte contains 230 bytes (1,073,741,824 bytes). So considering that, a gigabyte can be composed of 210 megabytes (1024 megabytes). 1024 is the number for every step in the scale. Basically, a kilobyte has 1024 bytes, a megabyte has 1024 kilobytes, and a gigabyte has 1024 megabytes.

In usual mathematics, each step is multiplied by 1000 or 103. When this was established, storage was measured in kilobytes; it was therefore determined that the excess 24 bytes is too little and can be easily disregarded to simplify things. But as you can see, it easily compounds as you move up the scale. Many hard drive manufacturers take advantage of this discrepancy in marketing their products.

For example, a hard drive that has a marketed capacity of 500GB has an actual capacity of 5×109 bytes (500,000,000,000), which is correct when you consider that the suffix mega in mathematics is 109. But when you look at the drive in your computer, a few gigabytes would mysteriously disappear. Some think that it is because the operating or file system takes up all that space, but that is untrue. When you divide 500,000,000,000 with the 1,073,741,824 bytes that composes a gigabyte, you get an actual capacity of 465.66GB. The file system may take up some space to hold the structure but it is nowhere near 34GB.

Because of this, a new standard has been created for digital information. The replacement for megabyte is the mebibyte and the replacement for gigabyte is the gibibyte. Although these units are more accurate in describing capacity, adoption is relatively slow due to people’s familiarity with the older system and manufacturer’s reluctance to use a standard that would lower their advertised capacities.


A Gigabyte is composed of 1024 Megabytes

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