What is the difference between kilobytes, megabytes and gigabytes

Mebi, gibi, megabytes and gigabytes: that's the difference

In this practical tip, you will find out where the differences lie between mebi-gibi, megabytes and gigabytes. The different units are very easy to understand.

Mebi, gibi, megabytes and gigabytes: that's the difference

You have probably already heard a sentence like "This is a one gigabyte USB stick, so it has 1024 megabytes inside" from a technology salesman. But unfortunately that's not true. We will explain to you what the various sizes are all about.

  • As in physics, prefixes such as mega, giga or kilo are used in connection with decimal numbers. 1 kilobyte (kB) is 1,000 bytes, 1,000 kB is 1 megabyte (MB), etc. The kilobyte therefore consists of 1,000 bytes, the megabyte 1,000² bytes, the gigabyte (GB) 1,000³ and the terabyte (TB) 1,000 bytes. In the future, computers will work with much more exorbitant amounts of data. 1,000 bytes correspond to a petabyte (PB), 1,000 bytes correspond to an exabyte (EB), 1,000 bytes correspond to a zettabyte (ZB) and 1,000 bytes correspond to a yottabyte (YB).
  • However, since the computer works with binary numbers, the number 1024 (2¹⁰) is used instead of 1,000. In order to be able to distinguish these numbers, however, a "bi" is built into the size information.
  • Accordingly, 1,024 bytes are exactly one Kibibyte (KiB). 1,024 KiB are in turn a Mebibyte (MiB). The gibibyte consists of 1,024 MiB, or rather 1,024³ bytes. 1024⁴ bytes are in turn a tebibyte (TiB), 1,024⁵ bytes are a pebibyte (PiB), 1,024⁶ an exbibyte (EiB), 1,024⁷ a zebibyte (ZiB) and finally 1,024⁸ bytes are a yobibyte (YiB).

Your Windows version: 32 bit or 64 bit? How to find out

In the next practical tip, we will show you how you can easily convert floating point numbers.