We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Difference Between a Bit and a Byte?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At EasyTechJunkie, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A bit, short for binary digit, is the smallest unit of measurement used for information storage in computers. A bit is represented by a 1 or a 0 with a value of true or false, sometimes expressed as on or off. Eight bits form a single byte of information, also known as an octet. The difference between a bit and a byte is size, or the amount of information stored.

For example, it takes 8 bits (1 byte) to store a single character. The capital letter “A” is expressed digitally as 01000001. A small case “a” is represented in binary code as 01100001. Notice the third bit is different in each octet. By rearranging the bits within the octet, a byte is capable of producing 256 unique combinations to form letters, numbers, special characters and symbols.

It can get confusing keeping units of storage straight, but it can help for people to remember that the smaller word is the smaller unit of storage. This also helps people to remember the difference between greater units, such as the kilobit and kilobyte.

A kilobit is 1,000 bits, though in the binary system, it is designated as 1024 bits due to the amount of space required to store a kilobit using common operating systems and storage schemes. For simplicity, however, most people think of kilo as referring to 1,000 to more easily remember what a kilobit is. A kilobyte then, would be 1,000 bytes.

Knowing the difference between a bit and a byte helps to explain megabits, megabytes, gigabits and gigabytes. For example, 1,000 kilobits is 1 megabit, and 1,000 kilobytes is 1 megabyte. Since a bit is eight times smaller than a byte, 1 megabit is eight times smaller than 1 megabyte. Following this pattern, 1,000 megabits is 1 gigabit, and 1,000 megabytes 1 gigabyte.

Internet connection speeds are expressed in terms of data transfer rates in both directions (uploading and downloading), as bits or bytes per second. Abbreviations are, unfortunately, not standardized, making it easy for customers or potential clients to confuse a bit and a byte when trying to determine how fast something is. For example, a speed of “750 kbps” might be misinterpreted by a customer as meaning 750 kilobytes per second, or 8x faster than what the provider means.

A rule of thumb that is generally reliable is that small case abbreviations typically refer to bits, while a capital letter typically refers to bytes. Therefore, kilobits per second would be “kbps” and kilobytes would be “KBps,” or “kBps.” The same holds for megabits per second (mbps) and megabytes per second (MBps). Bits might also be expressed as “Kbit,” “Mbit,” or “Gbit.”

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon338391 — On Jun 13, 2013

I have a question: When I copy something from one partition to another, what I see there are MBps. Why is it not Mbps? Bits are used for data transmission and bytes for data storage, right?

By anon288869 — On Sep 01, 2012

@KeyLimePie: There might be a misunderstanding here. When retailers promise a speed, it's usually the highest theoretical speed you can get and includes download and upload at the same time. So when you play, you are downloading and uploading at the same time, which at total is 1.5 Mb/s.

By anon136990 — On Dec 25, 2010

@snoopy123: "laptop has enough memory" - what you and others who say this actually mean is that the laptop (or desktop) needs enough disk space.

in pc terms, memory is the temporary area in which an operating system will store information and which 'disappears' when the pc is switched off. With windows, this memory can be in the cpu, motherboard or on a disk drive. the use of the hard drive would cause the use of a 'swap file' or 'page file' (also known as 'virtual memory'.

By KeyLimePie — On Sep 21, 2010

So that’s why my internet is so slow. I just signed up with a provider who promised me lightening speed up to 1.5Mbps. I insisted that wasn’t fast enough for the live streaming and online gaming my family does, but he assured me it would be. I did a speed check and am coming in at 650kbps; there is obviously something wrong here.

By ArizonaSun — On Sep 21, 2010

Snoopy123-Thank you for the suggestion. I did get an error on my personal computer that I met my maximum memory by almost doubling the size of my entire library. I tried to create a zipped folder like you said, but it still says there isn’t enough memory. I even tried moving the file to the flash drive and create one there, but I’m at 29 gigs and its reading full as well. I’m going to research further.

By Snoopy123 — On Sep 21, 2010

ArizonaSun- Have you tried creating a zip file and then copying it to the drive? That should compress the memory and allow you to put more files onto the drive. Then when you plug in the drive, drag the folder to your desktop and unzip to extract the files.

Just remember to make sure your laptop has enough memory to hold all of the extracted information or else you’ll get an error. I’m not sure if iTunes can convert the music back to that format. Isn’t it called AAC or something?

By ArizonaSun — On Sep 21, 2010

I am trying to copy my iTunes library from my personal computer to my laptop. I have to convert the format for all songs to mP3s, which increases the amount of memory taken up on the hard drive. I have a 32 GB flash drive that will only hold about one-third of the music. Is there any way to convert the format to take up fewer gigs?

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.