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Difference Between Megabit and Megabyte

Megabit vs Megabyte

When computers were being built, the people building them did not really think ahead and consider that ordinary people would be dealing with the jargon that they’ve invented. Now, we are confronted with terms like Megabits and Megabytes and most people don’t really know what the difference between them is. Actually, the only difference between Megabyte and Megabit is their size as the former is exactly 8 times the size of the latter.

The difference between Megabit and Megabyte can be traced to the bit and the byte. A bit is the smallest unit of digital information, which can hold either a zero or a one. Since it takes more than a single bit to represent any considerable amount of information, bits are grouped together by 8. Each group of 8 bits is referred to as a byte. The Mega prefix denotes a multiplier of 220 or a value of 1,048,576. So a single Megabyte contains 1,048,576 bytes and consequently, a single Megabit contains 1,048,576 bits. So since they are equivalent, the factor of 8 still remains.

The terms Megabyte and Megabit have their own niches when it comes to common usage. The Megabyte is commonly used when talking about file sizes. Because files are measured in bytes, this then extends to other prefixes like Kilobytes, Gigabytes, Terabytes, and the like. In contrast, networking and internet speeds are typically a lot lower and the trend to measure it in bits started from way back. This is made very popular by the typical 56 Kilobits per second speed of old telephone modems. With the advent of faster broadband connections, it is easy for speeds to reach the Megabits per second range.

But, it should be noted that you need to convert between Megabytes and Megabits if you are looking into how long a file will be downloaded. For example: if you have an internet connection with a consistent 1 megabit per second speed, it will only be able to download a1/8 Megabytes every second. So if you are downloading a 10 Megabyte file through the said connection, it would take 80 seconds to the download that file and not just 10. It is just a matter of multiplying or dividing by 8.

Summary:

  1. A Megabyte is composed of 8 Megabits
  2. Megabyte is used more in measuring file sizes while Megabits is used more in measuring connection speeds


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1 Comment

  1. Yes there’s a bit difference :)

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