APLawrence.com -  Resources for Unix and Linux Systems, Bloggers and the self-employed

2003/09/19 kilobit, kilobyte, megabit, megabyte, gigabit,
© September 2003 Tony Lawrence

With all of these, there's the technical meaning, the common meaning, and the possible meaning. Sometimes these all merge, sometimes they don't.

First, forget the metric system. A kilometer and a kilobyte only look like they are based on the same standard. A kilometer is 1,000 meters, but a kilobyte is 1,024 bytes. A megabyte is either 1,024 * 1,024 bytes (if you are measuring ram) or 1,000,000 bytes (if you are measuring a disk drive). There's another difference with those two also: quantities of ram will almost always be expressed as powers of two, and sizes of disk drives almost never will be except by accident. So while mentioning your 128 GB disk drive won't make you look like a dweeb, saying you have 100 MB of ram surely will. Finally, having a GB of ram means you really do have 1024 * 1024 * 1024 bytes, but having a 40 GB drive means you have something slightly less than 40,000,000,000 bytes because of formatting losses and locked out defects.

The case of suffixes makes a difference: Mb is megabits, MB is megabytes. And although there are 8 bits in a byte, you'd usually need to divide kbits or mbits by 10 to get kbytes or mbytes if you are trying to figure out how long it's going to take to transmit so many gigabytes of data over that 56kb (which is really less than that, of course) link. If you want to get really techy, you'll need to figure in packet payloads at a minimum, but the the 10 bit figure is close enough for deciding whether or not you can go to lunch, though not necessarily useful for determining which day next month this transfer might be done.

Got something to add? Send me email.

(OLDER)    <- More Stuff -> (NEWER)    (NEWEST)   

Printer Friendly Version

-> 2003_09_19.html kilobit, kilobyte, megabit, megabyte,gigabit, gigabyte

Inexpensive and informative Apple related e-books:

Take Control of Automating Your Mac

Photos for Mac: A Take Control Crash Course

Take Control of the Mac Command Line with Terminal, Second Edition

Photos: A Take Control Crash Course

Take Control of IOS 11

More Articles by © Tony Lawrence

Printer Friendly Version

Have you tried Searching this site?

This is a Unix/Linux resource website. It contains technical articles about Unix, Linux and general computing related subjects, opinion, news, help files, how-to's, tutorials and more.

Contact us

Printer Friendly Version

I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel that they have not said enough. (Mark Twain)

Linux posts

Troubleshooting posts

This post tagged:



Unix/Linux Consultants

Skills Tests

Unix/Linux Book Reviews

My Unix/Linux Troubleshooting Book

This site runs on Linode