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What are kibibytes, mebibytes, and gibibytes?

Answer: The size of computer data is measured in bytes. Larger units of bytes are often measured in kilobytes, megabytes, and gigabytes. However, the size of these units can be somewhat ambiguous. For example, a kilobyte can equal 1,024 bytes or 1,000 bytes, depending on the context in which it is used. A megabyte may equal 1,048,576 bytes or 1,000,000 bytes.

In 1998, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) introduced new units of measurement to avoid this confusion. These units are all exact measurements and cannot be estimated like kilobytes, megabytes, and gigabytes. The new IEC units are listed below:

  1. byte (B)
  2. kibibyte (KiB) - 2^10
  3. mebibyte (MiB) - 2^20
  4. gibibyte (GiB) - 2^30
  5. tebibyte (TiB) - 2^40
  6. pebibyte (PiB) - 2^50
  7. exbibyte (EiB) - 2^60
  8. zebibyte (ZiB) - 2^70
  9. yobibyte (YiB) - 2^80

For a list of the more commonly used, but also more ambiguous SI units of data storage, view this article.

Published: November 16, 2005 — by Per Christensson

Answer from the PC Help Center