What is a Megabyte in Computing, and What Does It Equal?

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What is a Megabyte in Computing, and What Does It Equal?

Measuring data is as important as measuring the mass or volume of solids or liquids. It enables you to manage better and utilize your storage space. The units measuring data include bytes, kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes, terabytes, and so on, but what does a megabyte mean in computing?

If you are not conversant with these terms, you can feel left out whenever they are mentioned, especially if you’re in the technology space where these units of data measurements are used rampantly. In this piece, we shall examine exactly what a megabyte (MB) is and what it is equal to. Read on and prepare yourself with this information. 

What Exactly is a Megabyte in Computing?

A megabyte (MB) in computing is a data measurement unit representing one million bytes. It shows the size of a file or the available storage space. The word megabyte is made up of two words – mega and byte. Mega is a Greek word for great; thus, a megabyte means a million bytes. To understand this better, let’s start with what a byte is. 

A byte is a unit of data measurement that consists of eight bits. On the other hand, a bit, which is short for binary digit, is the smallest data measurement unit in a computer. This magnetized binary unit represents stored data in the Random Access Memory (RAM) or the Read-Only Memory using either 0 or 1. The computer processes these numbers to make sense of them and give the desired information. 

These are the only numbers that a computer understands; any data you feed a computer is converted to either 0 or 1. In computing, bits are represented by the letter b. Since the bits are significantly small, they are grouped into groups of 8 bits, and each group is called a byte. When you have characters like 00110101, you have eight bits and one byte. One byte can represent up to 256 characters. A bit (b) and a byte (B) are the smallest units used to measure data in a computer. 

A bit is the smallest unit of measurement in computing. It can hold a value of 0 or 1, similar to an on or off switch.


Having understood what a bit and a byte are, it is now easy to interpret what it means that a megabyte is 1,000,000 bytes. Precisely, there are 8,000,000 bits in one megabyte. Here is a further breakdown to give you a better understanding of what a megabyte means.

  • 1 megabyte is equal to 500 Microsoft word pages 
  • 30 megabytes is equal to a 1 minute HD quality video
  • 500 megabytes is equal to a standard CD-ROM 
  • 5,000 megabytes is equal to a standard DVD-quality film 

When Did Megabytes Come Into Use?

The first computer whose storage size was measured in megabytes was released in 1956. This was an IBM computer that had a storage capacity of 5 megabytes. 

In 1966, floppy disks had up to 2 MBs of storage space. Over the years, storage devices have significantly increased their capacity, making it almost impossible to come across a device that is less than a Gigabyte (1,000 megabytes). Nevertheless, megabytes are not extinct but are now used to show data sizes. This includes sizes of songs, photos, documents, and videos, among others. 

Additionally, megabytes express the amount of data used when surfing using cellular data. For instance, you spend about 2MB if you stream a song online. 

What Does a Megabyte Equal?

A megabyte is one among other units of data measurement. In computing, the basic data unit is a byte, and all other units are made in reference to the byte. For example, a megabyte is a million bytes. A unit smaller than a megabyte is a kilobyte. A kilobyte, abbreviated KB, is a unit of measurement representing 1000 bytes. In a megabyte, there are 1000 KBs. 

A unit greater than a megabyte is a gigabyte (GB). 1000 megabytes make up a GB. One GB is also equal to 1,000,000,000 bytes. Here are other data measuring units and how they compare to a megabyte. 

  1. Bit – 0.00000001 megabytes
  2. Byte – 0.000001 megabytes
  3. Kilobyte – 0.001  megabytes
  4. Gigabyte – 1,000 megabytes
  5. Terabyte – 1,000,000 megabytes
  6. Petabyte – 1,000,000,000 megabytes

What are Megabytes per Second?

Megabyte per second (Mbps) measures the number of MBs transferred from one storage device to another. It also means the number of cellular data used when surfing per second. The higher your Mbps, the faster your surfing speed.

How Many Megabytes Do I Need to Surf?

You need a data plan to access the internet when you are not connected to Wi-Fi. Ideally, most mobile plans offer data plans that are 1 GB and above. Nevertheless, you can also find some with about 100 MBs. Although 100 MBs of data isn’t that much, you can send up to 100 emails with small or no attachments. Additionally, you can use social media for up to 40 minutes or stream average-quality music for up to an hour. 

Scribd vs. Audible
With 100 MB of data, you can listen to average quality music for about an hour.


How Many Megabytes Do I Need for Storage?

The megabytes used for storage differ from those used for surfing. If you have 100 MBs of storage, you do more than you can with 100 MBs of surfing. With 100 MBs, you can store up to 200 photos or about 25 songs. Although 100 MBs of storage is smaller to install all the content you may need on your phone or computer, it is still useful if the data you intend to carry is small. 


A megabyte is a unit of measurement in computing that represents 1,000,000 bytes. It also shows the file size available and the amount of data used in surfing. While it is not a big storage unit, you can store documents, songs, or even several videos with 1MB storage space. Use the information above for more information on a megabyte and what it is equal to in computing. 

Up Next… 

What is a Megabyte in Computing, and What Does It Equal? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Which is bigger, KB or MB?

MB is bigger than KB. KB means kilobyte, and it represents 1000 bytes. On the other hand, MB means megabytes, and it represents 1,000,000 bytes. 1000 kilobytes make 1 megabyte.

Which is the largest unit of measurement in computing?

The largest unit of measurement is a yottabyte. A yottabyte is 1 septillion, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes.  However, the largest consumer storage devices today are in terabytes.

How much can 1 MB of data hold?

The content that 1 MB of data holds depends on the total size of your storage. For instance, a 2-page word document is about 20 KBs, so 1 MB will hold 50 such documents. The same space will store about 25 songs.

Is 1 Mbps speed enough?

1 Mbps speed is enough, especially if you use the internet for simple surfing like opening social media platforms, emailing, or just Googling. However, depending on your needs, you may need faster internet speed, such as 2.5Mbps or even more, for instance, if you need to watch videos or download them.

What are the units for measuring processor speed?

The unit for measuring the speed of a processor is Gigahertz. Gigahertz measures clock speed, the number of cycles a processor or CPU executes per second. The higher the clock speed, the faster and more efficient your CPU.

Can you increase your computer’s storage space?

You can increase your computer’s storage space by deleting any irrelevant data to free up some space. If you don’t want to delete anything, you increase space by adding a new storage device. The storage device can be internal or external, and you connect them as peripheral devices. However, you will need an internal device to increase the RAM space.

Is 1 megabyte equal to 1000 or 1024 kilobytes?

1 megabyte is equal to exactly 1024 kilobytes or 1,048,576 bytes. However, these are rounded off to 1000 KBs or 1,000,000 bytes. This is because the prefix kilo means 1000, which is close to 1024.

Do megabit and megabyte mean the same thing?

Megabit and megabytes do not represent the same thing. A megabyte is equal to 1000000 bytes, while a megabit is equal to 8,000,000 bits. Additionally, megabits are often used for internet connections, downloads, and uploads, while megabytes are used for measuring the storage space available and file sizes.

Why does my phone use so many MBs than usual?

If your phone is using more MBs than expected when surfing, it probably has some actions in the background that also use data. These functions include app updates, notifications, app syncing, and video autoplay. To reduce such data uses, switch off such and other background functions that use data. Additionally, ensure that your cellular data is only on when you need to surf the internet.

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