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There are a lot of different technological terms out there when it comes to internet speeds, file sizes and data in general. Because of that, people can often be confused by what all of the different terms mean. Some can seem to be synonymous, when in reality they have slightly different meanings that are worth knowing.

One such example comes with two very similar words, megabits and megabytes. It can be easy to get these terms confused because they appear to be so close. Let’s take a look into what these words really mean and when each is used.

Related Reading: Mbps to Mb

What are Megabits?

One of the most common places people see the use of megabits is in regard to their internet speeds . You may see things like 25Mbps, or 5Gbps, which is just another measurement of the same concept. What this refers to is the number of megabits per second.

This is a number that works similarly to miles per hour in your car. The higher the number is, the faster your internet is able to function. Because of that, you’ll see higher Mbps amounts at higher prices. When you see that number, such as Mbps, keep in mind that means there will be a transfer of 25 megabits each second.

These bits can also be thought of in terms of storage, though they are quite a bit smaller than megabytes.

What are Megabytes?

Megabytes are largely considered to be different from megabits in terms of size. This can get a little confusing because in most other sizes, the beginning part of the name is changed — for example, megabytes, gigabytes, kilobytes, etc.

Because megabytes are larger, it tends to make more sense to use them while referring to data that is being stored. That way, you can simplify the amount. For example, rather than saying something has 120Mbs of data, you can make it easier on yourself by saying it has 15MBs instead.

While it might seem like you’d always want to simplify the number connected to the amount of data, there are times when people want to opt for the larger number. This is something that will be covered later in the article, so that you can get a better idea about when each data measurement is used.

Similar Names, Different Meanings

What makes megabytes and megabits confusing is that they appear nearly identical when they are abbreviated. For example, you may see either Mbps or MBps. An easy way to remember the difference between the two is to keep in mind that the small “b” represents a unit of measurement that is smaller.

So while these names seem very similar, remember that the large “B” means higher speeds and larger files. Later on, we’ll take a look into exactly what the sizing difference is so that you can understand what you’re getting in a single megabyte, and when the different measurements might be more useful (or profitable) to use.

When Do You Use Megabits?

Because megabits are smaller than megabytes, they are often going to be used when talking about amounts of data that haven’t quite reached the level of megabyte. This is likely to apply to things like file sizes, slower data transfer rates and similar kinds of spaces.

Additionally, there may be times when internet providers opt to use megabits even when megabytes would be more efficient. Consider for a moment an internet provider that claims to offer 25MBps, versus one that claims to provide 200Mbps. For those who aren’t looking closely, it would appear that the latter is going to be much faster. However, when you take a look at that elusive “b” vs “B,” you’d see that they actually function at the same speed.

This is why it’s going to be key to have a firm understanding of how the sizing works.

When Do You Use Megabytes?

Because megabytes are larger, they can be more efficient when it comes to handling larger numbers. For example, rather than using 1,600mbps, it can be simpler and easier to understand 200MBps. Beyond that, the same is true for even larger units of measurement, like the gigabyte. This is another measurement we often see when it comes to our devices and file sizes.

Keep in mind that when you’re looking for higher speeds, it’s important to keep an eye out for that large “B,” as it can make a world of difference. Don’t let internet providers confuse you with a larger number when the unit of measurement is actually much smaller.

Knowing the Sizes

Although megabits and megabytes have such similar names, it’s wise to remember that you’ll need 8 megabits in order to create a megabyte. This is what creates such a large difference when you’re comparing different internet speeds. Even though 20MBps may look smaller than 200Mbps, it’s worth remembering that each MB is worth 8 of those Mbs. So when you want fast internet, aim for megabytes over megabits, and make sure to do the math if you’re unsure about which option is faster.

Following that, there is a large leap up to gigabytes. Each gigabyte contains 1,000 megabytes. As a result, finding an internet plan or storage space with room for gigabytes is going to be much more effective than either megabits or megabytes. Finally, more and more devices are actually offering terabytes, which are made up of 1,000 gigabytes.


When you know the difference between megabits and megabytes, you’ll have an easier time understanding things like file sizes and data transfer rates. This can help to clear up a lot of confusion that might otherwise leave you thinking you’re getting more when businesses are simply using smaller units of measurement.

Once you understand the difference between megabits and megabytes, you can then start to parse out the meanings of similar kinds of measurements such as kilobytes and gigabytes. From that point, you’ll have an easier time with technological purchases, ensuring that you get the kinds of data and speeds you need.

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