In the digital world, data is measured using different units. The most common units for data storage and transmission are the gigabyte (GB) and megabyte (MB). So how much is 1GB of data in MB?
What is a Gigabyte?
A gigabyte (GB) is a unit of digital data storage equal to 1,000 megabytes (MB). One gigabyte is equivalent to 1,000,000,000 bytes. The gigabyte is used to measure large amounts of computer data like storage capacity of hard drives or data transmission speed.
What is a Megabyte?
A megabyte (MB) is a unit of digital data storage equal to 1,000,000 bytes. The megabyte is commonly used to measure files sizes, data storage and transfer speeds of smaller amounts of data compared to the gigabyte.
Converting GB to MB
Since a gigabyte is 1000 megabytes, converting between these units is simple:
- 1 gigabyte (GB) = 1000 megabytes (MB)
- So 1GB = 1000MB
This means that 1GB of data storage contains 1000MB of data. So if you have a 1GB file, it takes up 1000MB of storage space.
- 1GB hard drive has space for 1000MB worth of files and data
- A 1GB movie file would be 1000MB in size
- Transferring data at 1GB per second means moving 1000MB of data every second
Converting MB to GB
We can also convert megabyte to gigabyte:
- 1 megabyte (MB) = 0.001 gigabytes (GB)
- So 1000MB = 1GB
This shows that it takes 1000MB to make up 1GB of data. Some examples:
- A 250MB file is 0.25GB in size
- 1500MB of data is 1.5GB
- A data transfer speed of 500MB/s equals 0.5GB/s
Why data is measured in gigabytes and megabytes
Data is measured in gigabytes and megabytes because of the large differences in storage and transmission capacity in computer systems:
- Hard drives and other storage media are measured in hundreds of gigabytes to terabytes – so GB and MB are convenient units.
- Internet connection speeds are measured in megabits per second – so MB is useful to measure downloaded data amounts.
- Gigabytes allow conveniently measuring large data like 4K video files that can be gigabytes in size.
- Megabytes measure smaller amounts like document files that are from kilobytes to megabytes in size.
The gigabyte and megabyte scale nicely to quantify data usage across computer applications and devices.
Factors that determine data usage amounts
Some common factors that determine how we measure data usage in gigabytes and megabytes include:
- File sizes – Documents, images, videos, music and applications have different standard file sizes that determine their data usage in MB or GB.
- Storage capacity – Data storage devices like hard disk drives and solid state drives come in capacities ranging from gigabytes to terabytes.
- Transfer speed – Faster internet and network connections allow transferring more megabytes of data per second.
- Display resolution – Higher resolution images and videos consume more data when stored and streamed.
- Software efficiency – Well optimized software applications and file formats use less megabytes and gigabytes of data.
Typical data usage amounts
Here are some approximate data usage amounts for common computer tasks and files:
|Data Usage Activity
|Data Usage Amount
|App download from app store
|50 – 500MB
|Standard definition movie stream
|500MB – 1GB per hour
|High definition movie stream
|2 – 4GB per hour
|Online video meeting
|150 – 500MB per hour
|60 – 150MB per hour
|10 – 50MB per hour
|0.5 – 5MB
|MP3 song download
|3 – 5MB
|JPEG photo image
|0.5 – 5MB
|500MB – 20GB
As you can see, common computer activities like streaming movies and music, downloading apps, transfering files, video calling and browsing websites can use up anywhere from megabytes to gigabytes of data.
Hard drive and flash drive capacities
Computer data storage and memory comes in capacities ranging from gigabytes to terabytes. Some examples include:
- USB flash drive – 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB and up
- Memory card – 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and up
- External hard disk – 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB and up
- Laptop hard drive – 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
- Gaming PC hard drive – 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB and up
- Solid state drive – 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB and up
As you can see, storage capacities have grown enormously over the years – with terabyte drives becoming common. Still, the gigabyte and megabyte remain very relevant to quantify these large amounts of data storage.
Internet connection speeds
Internet data connections are measured in bits per second. But we can use gigabytes and megabytes to measure amounts downloaded at those connection speeds.
Some examples of download amounts at different internet speeds:
- 10 Mbps connection – download 1GB in 80 seconds.
- 50 Mbps connection – download 1GB in 16 seconds.
- 100 Mbps connection – download 1GB in 8 seconds.
- 500 Mbps connection – download 1GB in 1.6 seconds.
Faster broadband connections allow downloading more gigabytes of data like HD movies much quicker.
Mobile data usage
Cellular carriers measure mobile data usage in gigabytes and megabytes. Some examples of mobile data usage caps or limits include:
- 1GB mobile data plan
- 5GB mobile data plan
- 10GB mobile data plan
- Unlimited mobile data plan
Mobile video streaming, downloading apps, hotspot usage and other data transfers will consume this mobile data allowance in megabytes and gigabytes.
Cloud storage and file transfer
Online cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive and others provide file storage and transfer capabilities. These services are measured in gigabytes and megabytes:
- 15GB free Google Drive storage
- 100GB Dropbox file transfer limit
- 250GB Microsoft OneDrive storage space
When you upload, download, store and share files – the amounts are quantified in megabytes and gigabytes by these cloud services.
Gigabyte vs Megabyte – When to use each
In summary, you generally want to use:
- Gigabytes (GB) when dealing with large amounts of data like:
- File sizes in the hundreds of megabytes to gigabytes range
- Hard disk and solid state drive capacities
- Download amounts at fast internet speeds
- Terabyte class storage devices
- Megabytes (MB) when dealing with smaller data amounts like:
- File sizes in the kilobytes to megabytes range
- Mobile data caps
- Download amounts at slower internet speeds
- Flash drives and small storage devices
1GB is equal to 1000MB of data. This basic conversion allows us to quantify and measure the large amounts of digital data used in computer systems, storage devices, networks and the internet.
Knowing the size relationship between gigabytes and megabytes helps understand specifications of storage capacities, network speeds, file sizes, data transfers and more.
So the next time you come across gigabytes and megabytes of data, you can easily convert between them and determine just how much data is being described.