What is the Difference Between Bits and Bytes?
Computers use “bits” (short for “binary digits”) to represent information in digital form. A computer bit is a binary value. When represented as a number, bits can have a value of either ‘1’ (one) or ‘0’ (zero).
Modern computers generate bits from higher and lower electric voltages running through the device’s circuits.
Computer network adapters convert these voltages into the ones and zeros needed to physically transmit bits across the network link, a process sometimes called encoding. Methods of network message encoding varies depending on the transmission medium: For example:
Ethernet connections carry bits using electric signals of varying voltages, Wi-Fi connections carry bits using radio signals of varying frequencies, Fiber connections carry bits using pulses of light
A byte is a simply a fixed-length sequence of bits. Modern computers organize data into bytes to increase the data processing efficiency of network equipment, disks and memory. Computers by convention set one byte to equal eight (8) bits.
Examples of Bits and Bytes in Computer Networking:
Even casual users of computer networks will encounter bits and bytes in normal situations. Consider these examples.
IP addresses in Internet Protocol (IP) version 4 (IPv4) networking consist of 32 bits (4 bytes).
The address 192.168.0.1, for instance, has values 192, 168, 0 and 1 for each of its bytes. The bits and bytes of that address are encoded as follows:
11000000 10101000 00000000 00000001
The rate at which data travels through a computer network connection is traditionally measured in units of bits per second (bps).
Modern networks are capable of transmitting millions or billions of bits per second, called megabits per second (Mbps) and gigabits per second (Gbps), respectively. Some examples
Gigabit Ethernet connections are rated for 1 Gbps.
Wireless broadband routers offer different connection speed ratings depending on the form of Wi-Fi used. Common rates supported by routers include 54 Mbps,150 Mbps and 600 Mbps.
In contrast, computer storage devices like USB sticks and hard drives transfer data in units of bytes per second (Bps with a capital ‘B” instead of bps). People often confuse the meanings of “bps” and “Bps.”
Wireless security keys like those for WPA2, WPA and the old WEP are sequences of letters and numbers usually written in hexadecimal notation. Hexadecimal numbering represents each group of four bits as one value, either a number between zero and nine, or a letter between ‘A’ and ‘F’. WPA keys look like this:
12345678 9ABCDEF1 23456789 AB
IPv6 network addresses also commonly utilize hexadecimal numbering. Each IPv6 address contains 128 bits (16 bytes), as in this example:
-Some Common FAQ’s
1) What is a byte in computer terms?
Abbreviation for binary term, a unit of storage capable of holding a single character. On almost all modern computers, a byte is equal to 8 bits. Large amounts of memory are indicated in terms of kilobytes (1,024 bytes), megabytes (1,048,576 bytes), and gigabytes (1,073,741,824 bytes).
2) Are download speeds in bits or bytes?
How is Internet speed measured? 1 Kbps (kilobits-per-second) = 1,000 bits per second and 1 Mbps (megabits-per-second) = 1,000,000 bits per second. A lowercase “b” in Kbps means bits, while an uppercase “B” means bytes. There are eight bits in a byte.
3) Is Internet speed measured in megabits or MegaBytes?
People often assume that a download speed of 1 Megabit per second (1 Mbps) will allow them to download a 1 Megabyte file in one second. This is not the case, a Megabit is 1/8 as big as a Megabyte, meaning that to download a 1MB file in 1 second you would need a connection of 8Mbps.
4) Why internet speed is divided by 8?
Surfing speeds are expressed in “bits per second” (bps) or its multiples e.g. kbps, Mbps etc.
Whereas, download speeds are expressed in “bytes per second” (Bps) or its multiples e.g. kBps, MBps. Note the difference between the small ‘b’ and the capital ‘B’.
Now, bit and byte, both are units of data, but the difference between a bit and a byte is that, one byte comprises of eight bits, i.e.
To get the rate of data transfer, or speed, it is expressed as amount of data transferred per second, i.e bps and Bps.
Therefore, there is a division by 8 to get the download speed from the surfing speed.
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