Definition

megabytes per second (MBps)

Contributor(s): Laura Fitzgibbons

Megabytes per second (MBps) is a unit of measurement for data transfer speed to and from a computer storage device. Originally, a byte was a collection of 8 bits or individual characters, the smallest number of bits that were able to express a number, letter or character in binary form. A megabyte is a collection of 2 to the 20th power bytes, or 1,048,576 bytes in decimal notation, and MBps is the number of megabytes of data transferred over a single second.

As a unit of measurement for the transfer of computer information, MBps measures data in binary form, the language used by most computers to interpret and synthesize information. The binary system in mathematics is used to translate regular numerals and characters to a system that a computer can understand and that can easily be transferred electronically. It is made up of groups of digits that are all either ones or zeros and in combinations of sets of 8. The varying combinations of sequences of bits are codes that correlate to different numerals, letters and characters.

Megabytes per second is also a way to measure a data transfer rate, or the volume of file data that can be passed between two points over a unit of time. If a path has more bandwidth, more data is able to travel along it, leading to a higher data transfer rate. How quickly the data arrives, regardless of volume, is referred to as its transfer speed. Similarly, connection speed refers to the amount of time it takes and how quickly data is transferred between a computer or device and the internet itself and is also referred to as download speed, bandwidth or receiving speed. Another commonly measured aspect of computing is an average download time. This refers to how quickly a file can be downloaded to a device, measured several times and averaged, varying greatly depending on the file size. All of these types of transfer speeds may be measured in MBps.

Megabytes per second vs. megabits per second

MBps is a different digital data measurement unit than Mbps (megabits per second). The basic differences are as follows:

  • Megabytes per second generally refers to upload and download speeds. Each byte is made up of 8 bits. A megabyte is made up of 1,000,000 bytes.
  • Megabits per second measures the file size of data transferred per second over a channel. A megabit is the equivalent of 125 kilobytes (KBs) or 125,000 bytes.

Uses of megabytes per second

Some common instances in computing where a data transfer speed might be measured in MBps include video calls, streaming videos, browsing websites, sending emails with a large amount of data or attachments, or making calls over the internet.

Conversion table

Internet Speed Conversion Table

=

bps

Bps

Kbps

KBps

Mbps

MBps

Gbps

GBps

1 Kbps

1,000

125

1

.125

.001

.000125

.000001

.000000125

1 KBps

8,000

1,000

8

1

.008

.001

.000008

.000001

1 Mbps

1M

125,000

1,000

125

1

.125

.001

.000125

1 MBps

8M

1M

8,000

1,000

8

1

.008

.001

1 Gbps

1B

125M

1M

125,000

1,000

125

1

.125

1 GBps

8B

1B

8M

1M

8,000

1,000

8

1

The following formulas can also be used to convert between megabytes and megabits:

MBps to Mbps conversion
These formulas can be used to convert between megabytes and megabits.
This was last updated in April 2020

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