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Know the Difference Between Megabits to Megabytes

The tech industry has its own devices, its own vernacular, and even its own units of measurement. We will know the difference between megabits to megabytes.

When the digital age first began to take hold decades ago, most people didn’t give too much thought in learning these units. After all, few could’ve imagined just how deeply technology would impact the world in such a short time.

With the digital world growing at a staggering pace, it never hurts to learn the basics about storage and measurement terminology. While most people would say, the biggest question is about whether gigabyte outranks the terabyte or vice versa, sometimes starting small is the best way to make sure you understand the concept deeply.

Megabits and megabytes sound and look very similar. They even use similar abbreviations – Mb for Megabits and MB for megabytes. What’s the difference? And more importantly, why should you care about the difference?

The main reason is that everything from your internet speed to the size of your downloaded files is measured in these increments. If you’re offered a special deal on the internet, say 18.5 Mb per second for $50/month, are you getting a good deal? If you have to download 100 files for program installation and each takes up 300MB, how much space will you have left on your current storage drive?

All these questions and more can be answered easier once you have a grasp on the difference between megabits to megabytes. Let’s look at the difference between the two and how they’re connected.

Megabits to Megabytes: The Basics and the Connection

Megabits to megabytes – what’s the connection there? In the most basic sense, one Megabit equals 0.125 megabytes. So it takes eight megabits to equal one megabyte.

While you’re probably better off learning these without the mnemonic devices, we’ll introduce one for simplicity’s sake. The term megabit has the word “bit” in its name. When we think of a bit of something, we think of a small amount. Therefore megabits are the smaller unit of the two.

You may hear about gigabytes and terabytes more than you hear about the smaller units of storage. Both have byte at the end of their name so that megabyte can be viewed like these in some regards – it’s a larger unit or at least larger compared to megabits.

But for now, forget everything about any digital unit of storage not related to megabits and megabytes. Let’s focus on getting used to the terminology and their abbreviations. When you see Mb, with the little b, you’re dealing with megabits – the smaller of the two. When you see MB, with the big B, you’re dealing with megabytes.

You may also see each of these terms used in various contexts. For example, a flash drive may offer you a certain number of MB storage (it’d have to be a small drive, but for this example, we’ll go with it). While that number will tell you how many megabytes of data you can store on the drive, you may also need to measure how many megabits can be transferred via a connection every second. This is traditionally used for measuring internet speed and is labeled Mbps – or megabits per second.

From megabits to megabytes, each unit of measurement can be used to measure either storage space or the amount of data transferable over a connection within a second.  But to make sure we accurately understand exactly what this terminology is referring to, let’s take another step back. Bits and bytes – what are they referring to?

Understanding the Fundamentals of Digital Storage

Digital storage is about finding places on storage drives to place pieces of code. Some information requires less storage, while other information requires more.

Another simple way of understanding how bits and bytes impact digital storage is to imagine them as physical entities. Just as you can store several cups in a quart, you can fit multiple megabits into a megabyte.

This brings up an interesting question – why are bits used instead of bytes on some occasions? We know that we can determine how many megabytes are in a measurement of megabits simply from dividing by 8. So, if you have 800 megabits, you have 100 megabytes.

Often, people rely on Mb instead of MB as the measurement of choice when measuring either space or data speeds. But why? Wouldn’t they want to note that the speed or space is so high they need to use the higher unit of measurement?

In some ways, this is nothing more than a habit that stuck around over time. Storage space was once measured in megabits simply because of the limitations of the time. Even tech giant Bill Gates has faced flak for supposedly underestimating the amount of storage the average person would need as technology progressed.

But the real reason measurements are often listed in the smaller unit instead of, the larger is simply because it looks better. What sounds more appealing if someone is selling a garden hose – saying this hose is 3 feet, or this hose is 36 inches? The larger number seems to carry more weight, even though both values are equal.

Therefore, saying a connection speed is 64Mbps sounds better than saying it is 8MBps. But there are some situations where using the larger increment of measurement is preferred. Megabits are usually used when talking about data speed, whereas megabytes are usually used when talking about storage space.

For a drive that had 64,000 megabits of space, saying 8,000 megabytes doesn’t sound like that much less. As the numbers increase, the disparity between them becomes less important. Therefore look for the smaller units on connection speed, and the large ones on storage amounts.

When Storage Values Go Even Higher

Now that we understand the connection from megabits to megabytes, it’s worth examining some of the larger units of digital measurement out there.

Let’s go back to our previous example of 8,000 megabytes. This is something we can list in another way – like around 8 gigabytes. There are 1,024 megabytes in a gigabyte. Gigabyte, abbreviated, GB, is the main unit of storage you’ll find listed on most hard drives today. If you have a couple of hundred GB of storage, you can keep thousands of photos, songs, and more stored without worry. But the storage units used in modern technology don’t stop there. Let’s take it one step further – what if you have 1,024 gigabytes? That gives you one terabyte.

The terabyte (abbreviated TB) is become more popular as well, with many computers and laptops now offering a 1TB hard drive as standard. Some systems even offer a TB of space on solid state drives, which, although pricier, will give you the benefit of plenty of storage space and blazing fast read/write speeds.

This trend can keep going beyond the terabyte to the petabyte (PB), the exabyte (EB), and even higher. Those two aren’t necessarily common, as no average user at this time would ever need that much space given current file sizes. Anything over a terabyte is usually reserved for largescale tech companies, massive databases, and huge organizations whose storage needs are vastly bigger than that of the average user.

It’s also important to note 1000 vs. 1024 distinction. In some circles, 1000 is used to measure the difference between one of a unit of storage to the next rather than 1024. This is a bit more practical, but because of the unique way computers count storage units, 1024 is still the more accurate of the two.

How Knowing the Difference Helps You

Megabits to megabytes – it seems like a miniscule factoid to learn, but it can help you out more than you’d think. It’s the same idea behind learning any other unit of measurement, such as for the length, height, or capacity of physical objects.

Everything is going digital. Knowing how these storage units are related to one another helps you decipher exactly what you’re getting when you purchase a storage drive or sign up for any type of network service. It can be easy for sellers to use flashy numbers to make a deal look better than it is. But once you know the truth about how these units of value are related, it becomes easier to become engaged in conversations about technology.

Knowing storage values also helps you save money and ensure you get the best deal for your money. This is true even if you’re just buying a standard flash drive. But beyond just the financial benefits of being informed, there’s the greater benefit of having a solid grasp on the technology you use every day.

Sometimes the differences between similar values like megabits and megabytes can seem confusing. But the more you research these topics and study them, the easier it becomes. Luckily, the chance to learn is all around us. Look at any file on your computer and examine its size – is it bigger or smaller than you thought, and how does it compare to others?

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