“Bits” and “bytes” are measurements used for internet bandwidth and file size. To the common person, these units can be confusing. They certainly aren’t measurements that most people use day-to-day. Understanding how to measure file size and internet bandwidth helps you make sure you are getting the best value on your internet service plan.

## Bits vs Bytes

What’s the difference between a “bit” and a “byte?” It can be hard to make sense of all the jargon used in tech. Understanding the units of measurement for technology can make it easier to understand computer issues and internet services. Byte and bit are two common units that are used to describe file size and internet bandwidth.

## How Many Bits or Bytes?

Bits and bytes tell you what is being measured (speed or data size), but how do you tell you how much there is? Metric system-based prefixes are used to tell you how many bits or bytes. For example, 1 megabyte (MB) is 0.001 gigabyte (GB)

If you ever feel outraged that your 20 Mbps internet service “only downloaded 2.4 MB per second,” remember to pay attention to those units (b versus B)! You may see speed metrics displayed as bits per second or as bytes per second, and it can be easy to miss the difference. It is actually very good internet speed if you can download 2.4 MB per second on a 20 Mbps internet connection. Every byte equals eight bits, so 2.4 MB is equal to 19.2 Mb (on target for the 20 Mbps internet plan).

### Bandwidth and File Size Quick References

Remember that bits are for speed and bytes are for file size! If you see “GB,” you are seeing “how much.” If you are seeing “Mbps,” you are seeing “how fast.”

• 1 byte = 8 bits; 1 megabyte (MB) = 8 megabits (Mb)
• Mbps = Megabits per second
• 1 MB = 10002 bytes or 8 Mb
• 1 Mb = 10002 bits
• To download 1 MB in 1 second, you need an 8 Mbps internet speed