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PSA Units of Data: Mb vs MB vs MiB

data storage Mebibytes

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#1 2ASIAπ4U™


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Posted 12 July 2015 - 09:27 AM

Most people don't understand the units of measure in their computers, some wonder about the seemingly missing storage inside their 16GB flash drive when it shows up as 14.9 GB. Others wonder about why their download speeds show as 20 megabits a second but download a 20 MB file in 8 seconds. Here's why:

Bits vs Bytes: A one or a zero is measured in "bits", 8 bits or 2^3 bits is a byte. This is why your internet provider advertises megabit internet, 16 Mb looks and sounds larger then 2 MB, but in reality is the same. This is the most common misconception.

A Kilobyte is 1024 Bytes: Is Sandisk giving you less flash drive space then it says? That's a misconception as well. A KB is 1000 bytes, a MB is 1000 KB, etc. Windows is different from both Mac (After OSX Snow Leopard) and Linux by marking 1024 bytes as one MB. In reality it's referring to the more technically correct Mebibyte. A Kibibyte, Mebibyte, and Gibibyte is what is normally referred to when KB, MB, or GB come up. This is the fault of the JEDEC memory standards which also uses 1024 bytes for "Kilobytes", but the IEC uses KiB, MiB, and GiB.

Conclusion: You can now also refer to your computer and say it has a 8 terabit hard drive, and Windows is lying to you when it says your 16 GB flash drive is 14.9 GB.


TL;DR: Your ISP uses units that are 8 times less then your familiar ones, your Gigabyte hard disk is read by Windows as a Gibibyte one.


Sources:   (Mebibytes vs Megabytes)

 http://physics.nist....its/binary.html   (Mebibytes vs Megabytes)   (Bits vs Bytes)

Edited by 2ASIAπ4U™, 12 July 2015 - 04:52 PM.

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