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How Many Kilobytes in a Megabyte

As you may know, the binary number system is used to measure computer data, and the bit1 is the basic unit of information in it. The bit has one of the two values, denoted by 1 or 0. Eight bits make up one byte2, which is the main element in most computer system architectures. When an average man hears the terms “kilobytes” and “megabytes” for the first time, he will probably think that they mean the following:


So, the answer to the question, “How many kilobytes are there in a Megabyte?” seems to be obvious:


But don’t jump to conclusions. For example, manufacturers of computer memory use another system. It states:


More than that, this definition is more popular nowadays. It means that 1 kilobyte is 210 bytes, which is 1024 bytes. But it uses the prefix “kilo” from the metric system, and sometimes this fact causes confusion.

The IEC Definitions

In 1998, the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission)3 accepted a new international standard. It suggests replacing metric prefixes in the terms by specific ones. New variants are made up of the first syllable of the corresponding metric prefix and the syllable “bi” (contraction from “binary”).

The following table presents all the IEC definitions.

Term
Abbreviation
Equals to
Bit
bit
0 or 1
Byte
B
8 bits
Kibibit
Kibit
1024 bits
Kibibyte
KiB
1024 bytes
Mebibyte
MiB
1024 kibibytes
Gibibyte
GiB
1024 mebibytes
Tebibyte
TiB
1024 gibibytes
Pebibyte
PiB
1024 tebibytes
Exbibyte
EiB
1024 pebibytes

These new definitions could have solved many problems, but they are not commonly used yet, and most manufacturers, dealers and computer users ignore it. No wonder, most people do not even know what these terms mean.

The table below will help you to convert traditional units.

 
One Bit
One Byte
Bits
1
8
Bytes
8
1
Kilobytes
8,192
1,024
Megabytes
8,388,608
1,048,576
Gigabytes
8,589,934,592
1,073,741,824


 
One Kilobyte
One Megabyte
Bits
8,192
8,388,608
Bytes
1,024
1,048,576
Kilobytes
1
1,024
Megabytes
1,024
1
Gigabytes
1,048,576
1,024


 
One Gigabyte
One Terabyte
Bits
8,589,934,592
8,796,093,022,208
Bytes
1,073,741,824
1,099,511,627,776
Kilobytes
1,048,576
1,073,741,824
Megabytes
1,024
1,048,576
Gigabytes
1
1,024


 
One Petabyte
One Exabyte
Bits
9,007,199,254,740,992
9,223,372,036,854,775,808
Bytes
1,125,899,906,842,624
1,152,921,504,606,846,976
Kilobytes
1,099,511,627,776
1,125,899,906,842,624
Megabytes
1,073,741,824
1,099,511,627,776
Gigabytes
1,048,576
1,073,741,824


 
One Zettabyte
Bits
9,444,732,965,739,290,427,392
Bytes
1,180,591,620,717,411,303,424
Kilobytes
1,152,921,504,606,846,976
Megabytes
1,125,899,906,842,624
Gigabytes
1,099,511,627,776
  1. The bit (contraction from the phrase “binary digit”) is the fundamental unit of computer information. In means the amount of data that has one of the two possible values: digits 0 or 1.
  2. The byte (abbr. B) is the basic unit of computer information, consisting of eight bits. Bytes make up kilobytes (KB), megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB), terabytes (TB), petabytes (PB), exabytes (EB), zettabytes (ZB), and yottabytes (YB). The standard definition states that one kilobyte has 1000 bytes and so on, but according to the non-official meaning, one kilobyte has 1024 bytes.
  3. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) – is the non-profit organization, developing International Standards for various spheres of electrotechnology. It has approved such terms, as Kibibit (Kibit), Kibibyte (KiB), Mebibyte (MiB), Gibibyte (GiB), Tebibyte (TiB), Pebibyte (PiB), Exbibyte (EiB).
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