Internet Terms


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K - M

Short for kilobits per second, a measure of data transfer speed. Modems, for example, are measured in Kbps. Note that one Kbps is 1,000 bits per second, whereas a KB (kilobyte) is 1,024 bytes. Data transfer rates are measured using the decimal meaning of K whereas data storage is measured using the powers-of-2 meaning of K. Technically, kbps should be spelled with a lowercase k to indicate that it is decimal but almost everyone spells it with a capital K.

1,024 bits for technical purposes, such as data storage. 1,000 for general purposes. Data transfer rates are measured in kilobits per second, abbreviated as Kbps, and count a kilo as 1,000 bits.

In decimal systems, kilo stands for 1,000, but in binary systems, a kilo is 1,024 (2 to the 10th power). Technically, therefore, a kilobyte is 1,024 bytes, but it is often used loosely as a synonym for 1,000 bytes.
For example, a computer that has 256K main memory can store approximately 256,000 bytes (or characters) in memory at one time.

A megabyte is 2 to the 20th power (approximately 1 million) and a gigabyte is 2 to the 30th power (approximately 1 billion).

In computer literature, kilobyte is usually abbreviated as K or Kb. To distinguish between a decimal K (1,000) and a binary K (1,024), the IEEE has suggested following the convention of using a small k for a decimal kilo and a capital K for a binary kilo, but this convention is by no means strictly followed.

LAN (Local Area Network)
A computer network that spans a relatively small area. Most LANs are confined to a single building or group of buildings. However, one LAN can be connected to other LANs over any distance via telephone lines and radio waves. A system of LANs connected in this way is called a wide-area network (WAN).

MAC Address
Short for Media Access Control address, a hardware address that uniquely identifies each node of a network.
In IEEE 802 networks, the Data Link Control (DLC) layer of the OSI Reference Model is divided into two sublayers: the Logical Link Control (LLC) layer and the Media Access Control (MAC) layer. The MAC layer interfaces directly with the network media. Consequently, each different type of network media requires a different MAC layer.

Short for megabyte (1,000,000 or 1,048,576 bytes, depending on the context).

Short for megabits per second, a measure of data transfer speed. Networks, for example, are generally measured in Mbps.

When used to describe data storage, 1,024 kilobits. When used to describe data transfer rates, it refers to one million bits. Networks are often measured in megabits per second, abbreviated as Mbps.

When used to describe data storage, 1,048,576 (2 to the 20th power) bytes. Megabyte is frequently abbreviated as M or MB. When used to describe data transfer rates, as in MBps, it refers to one million bytes.