Don't get confused the Megabyte (MB) and Megabit (Mb) are very different

Although they are units of measurement that we use very frequently, many users are still unaware that the Megabit (Mb) is different, in quantity, from the Megabyte (MB) . Both units of measure are used for data, but the use and purpose of each is different. For this reason, we are going to explain when they are used.

But before we get into the flour, we need to know the difference between bit(b) and byte(B). The bit (b) is the minimum unit of information that is represented as “0” or “1”, which in the end, is the basic language of computers. A byte (B) is a unit of measure that represents 8 bits. It is used for the representation of storage capacity or memory of a device.

Megabyte (MB) and Megabit (Mb) are very different

When is each unit of measure used?

Well, we are clear on what the basic units of measurement are, but for quite different purposes. Now we have to distinguish when using the Megabit (Mb) and the Megabyte (MB).

Megabyte (MB) measures size

The interesting thing is that this unit of measurement has different uses. The Megabyte (MB) is used to describe the size of a file , the size of the storage unit and for the volume of data that we can download.

We will explain each of these cases:

  • File size: Files on a computer, smartphone and the like are usually expressed in MB. A photograph of any smartphone, for example, usually weighs between 2-6 MB
  • Storage capacity: Currently it is difficult to find a hard drive or memory card with Megabyte (MB) capacity, since they are usually in the order of Gigabyte (GB) or Terabyte (TB). Anyway, it serves to give us a maximum capacity value
  • Mobile internet rates: Curiously, the mobile internet connection is measured in the maximum size of downloaded data and not in the speed of the connection. Currently the rates are usually several tens of Gigabyte (GB) of downloaded data.

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Megabits (Mb) measure speed

Although the term is very similar both in name and abbreviation, what they indicate is something else. Megabits (MB) are used to describe bandwidth and speed . It is usually expressed in Megabits per second (Mbps | Mb/s). This phenomenon is similar to light years, which do not measure speed, but time.

The Megabits (Mb) value is used in the following cases:

  • Internet connection speed: Expresses the bandwidth that an internet connection can offer us. Currently, for fiber optic connections we speak of several hundred Megabits per second (Mbps | Mb/s) and it is even expressed in Gigabits per second (Gbps | Gb/s)
  • Communication bus: These are the existing connections between different components of a computer. Some of these examples are USB ports, Thunderbolt ports or the PCIe 4.0 interface. It has been many years since it is expressed in Mbps, it is already expressed in Gbps. For example, the PCIe 4.0 x16 interface offers a bandwidth greater than 36 Gb/s (be careful not to confuse it with Gigatransfer, which is a different value)

velocidad internet megabits

Be careful, 1 TB is not 1000 GB

A fairly common mistake is to think that when we talk about units in Bytes, the ratio is 1000. This confusion is quite common and leads us astray, especially in the capacity of hard drives. The correct relation is the following:

Unit of measurement Symbol Equivalence in Bytes
Byte B. 8 bit
Kilobyte KB 1024 bytes
Megabyte MB 1024KB
gigabyte UK 1024MB
Terabyte TB 1024GB
petabyte PB 1024TB
Exabyte EB 1024 bp
zettabyte ZB 1024 EB
yottabyte YN 1024 ZB
brontobyte bb 1024 YB

Something normal when we buy a storage unit (it does not matter SSD, HDD or any other) is that the marked capacity is not the same as that indicated by Windows. If our SSD is 1 TB , Windows will actually detect that it is 931.32 GB . How is it possible? The mathematical explanation is as follows:

  • It is understood that 1 TB is really 1,000,000,000,000 bytes
  • We have to divide by 1024 and this will give us 987,562,500 KB
  • Now we divide the 987,562,500 KB by 1024 and this will give us 953,674.3 MB
  • Finally, we have to divide these 953,674.3 MB by 1024 and thus we will obtain the 931.32 GB indicated by Windows

The trick is that the capacity is indicated in decimal (base 10), while Windows reads it in binary (base 2), hence the difference.