The Difference between Bytes and Bits

What’s the Difference between Bytes and Bits?

Bytes and bits may sound the same, but they are so different. Let’s start with some basics.

A Byte is equal to 8 bits.

A bit is equal to .125 Bytes.

A Byte is used when referring to storage space and files. Here are some examples:

  • A file on your computer
  • A movie you downloaded from the internet 
  • Your hard drive space. i.e 500GB (Gigabytes)

A bit is used when referring to network and download speeds. Here are some examples:

  • You have a Gigabit (1Gbps) network card in your computer.
  • Your wireless is connected at 54Mbps.
  • Your network switch is 10Gbps or 10 Gigabits
  • You purchased 50Mb/s or 50 Megabit per second for internet services from your ISP.

Take note that when Byte is used, it is a capital B. Such as Byte, KB (Kilobyte), MB (Megabyte), GB (Gigabyte), etc.

For a bit, it is proper to use a small b. bit, Kb (Kilobit), Mb (Megabit), Gb (Gigabit), etc.

Calculating the Difference between Bytes and Bits

Hopefully, you are still following along. The math is very simple to calculate the values. As mentioned above, 1 Byte = 8 bits, so simply multiply the Byte value by 8 to get the value of the bits. Example: 10MB = 80Mb.  

To convert a bit to a Byte, simply divide the number by 8. 80Mb = 10MB. 

Next time you are downloading a file from the internet, try converting the Byte to a bit. Remember your connection speed to the internet is in bits. When you start the download you will notice the download speed of the file is in Bytes. 

If you have 50Mb/s service through your internet service provider, the max download speed of the file would be 6.25MB/s. So if you were downloading a 100MB file, you would expect the download to complete in approximately 17 seconds. 

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this blog gave you some insight into the difference between Bytes and bits. Please note, there are a number of factors that will affect your speed and overall network performance. The figures provided are textbook and do not account for any other factors. 

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