With the successful launch of Jimmy Drive over the weekend, I am learning that there is a lot of confusion as to what KB/s and Mbps really are and why we measure internet speeds in one way or the other. In many cases your broadband provider is giving you one number and online internet speed checkers are showing something else entirely different. For instance, many people think 1Mbps is the same thing as 1MB/s, however this is not the case.
Please tweet this post using #PhotoTipsPodcast
Bits versus Bytes
There are two different ways of measuring data and internet speed. Although they sound similar, they are actually miles apart from one another. They are bits and bytes. 1 byte is actually 8 bits. When you see this written out on websites by speed checkers and internet service providers, it is represented as an acronym. Bytes use a capitalized “B"s while bits use a lower case “b”.
• 1 byte is 1B
• 1 bit is 1b.
So that we don't have crazy long numbers, we round up bytes into Kilobytes (KB) and Megabytes (MB). It looks like the following.
• 1 kilobyte = 1000 bytes = 1KB
• 1 megabyte = 1000000 bytes = 1MB
We also round up bits into kilobits (Kb) and megabits (Mb).
• 1 kilobit = 1000 bits = 1Kb
• 1 megabit = 1000000 bits = 1Mb
How do bytes and bits translate over into data transfer speeds?
Data is transferred over the internet in bytes per second (B/s) or bits per second (bps). Most companies like to display their speeds in bps as the numbers appear larger. It's all about perception, right?
Your internet connection has two different speeds, a download speed and an upload speed. Again, internet providers like to give you the maximum download speed they are capable of. And that makes sense, because that is what we are usually doing when we are surfing the net, watching a YouTube video, or streaming music. But if you plan to place files on the cloud, or back them up to our new Jimmy Drive service, you need to be aware of your ISP’s upload speed. This shows how fast data can be transferred from your computer to the internet. Like uploading images to your SmugMug account, or backing up to Jimmy Drive.
So let's do some math in regards to transfer speed - math is not exactly my strong suite so bare with me. Remember that one Byte is made up of 8 bits. So when you see 1Mbps, you are actually looking at 125KBs. 125 may make you think it is faster, but actually it is equal to 1Mbps....
- 125KB/s = 125,000 bytes of data per second.
- 1Mbps = 1,000,000 bits of data every second.
- 125,000 bytes x 8 = 1,000,000 bits
What affects the speed of Jimmy Drive, for instance, and how can I check how fast my internet is?
The speed of our new Jimmy Drive service can be affected by a range of factors, these include the distance your computer is from the closest data center and whether your Internet Service Provider is purposely throttling your internet speeds. Some providers will slow your internet speeds at different times of the day. They will also reduce your speed once you have downloaded a certain amount of content, or will throttle certain services. They may also give you a brief burst of speed up to a certain amount of data, and then throttle back. Additionally, if you have many computers downloading or uploading files on a network it will also affect the speed of your service.
You can check out how fast your current internet connection is by going to www.speedtest.net and press the “begin test” on the image.
Hopefully this will help you understand what internet speed really is and how it is measured in a different ways, but now you can now do the math to interpret what that really means.