The Difference Between Bits & Bytes Explained

Can’t tell the difference between bits and bytes? Continue reading to find out the difference and figure out what broadband speed you require.

Connection speeds and data sizes are not measured in the same way. But, people tend to call them both ‘megs’. The problem here is that the word ‘meg’ actually refers to two very different values: megabits and megabytes. And, these don’t mean the same thing.

How Bits & Bytes Relate To Broadband Speeds

Are you wondering how this relates to you and your broadband speed?

Usually, data sizes are measured in ‘bytes’, and broadband speeds are measured in ‘bits’. Depending on the file size and speed of your connection, you can estimate how long it’ll take you to download a file.


The Difference Between Bits and Bytes

Let’s assume that you find a file on the internet space that is 17 megabytes (MB) in size, and want to download it with your 17 megabits per second (Mbps) broadband connection. It won’t take one second. Rather, it will take eight times one second because a megabyte is eight times bigger than a megabit. Hence, in theory, and with perfect speed, it should take eight seconds to complete this download.

What Is The Difference Between Bits and Bytes?

The first difference between bits and bytes we’ll share with you is that they are not written the same way. A byte is written with an uppercase ‘B’ while a bit is a lowercase ‘b’.

Thus, if it says MB, all capitals, then it is a megabyte. While, If it says Mb, then it is a megabit.


However, there is one exception to this. And, it is the symbol for kilobit, which is ‘kb’, all lowercase.

With common sense, it’s easy to figure this out. An uppercase ‘B’ is physically larger than a lowercase ‘b’, and a byte is larger than a bit.

Another difference between bits and bytes we’ll share with you is that bytes are much bigger, eight times bigger, to be exact. Thus, there are eight bits in every byte. Hence, by extension, there are eight megabits in every megabyte, and one gigabyte is eight times bigger than one gigabit.

Other File Sizes You Should Know About

Although there are many different file sizes, a lot of us only need to know a little bit (no pun intended) of prefixes. Here are the most common ones:

  • KB – A kilobyte (KB) is 1,024 bytes.
  • MB – A megabyte (MB) is 1,024 kilobytes.
  • GB – A gigabyte (GB) is 1,024 megabytes.
  • TB – A terabyte (TB) is 1,024 gigabytes.
  • kb – A kilobit (kb) is 1,024 bits.
  • Mb – A megabit (Mb) is 1,024 kilobits.
  • Gb – A gigabit (Gb) is 1,024 megabits.
  • Tb – A terabit (Tb) is 1,024 gigabits.

Recall, that there are eight bits in a byte. Thus, to convert from one to the other, you can multiply or divide by eight. For example, if you want to transfer 38MB with a 38 Mbps connection, it will take you eight seconds.