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How is Network Performance Measured?

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Question: How is Network Performance Measured?
Answer: Measures of computer network performance are commonly stated in units of bits per second (bps). This quantity can represent either an actual data rate or a theoretical limit to available network bandwidth.

Modern networks support very large numbers of bits per second. Instead of quoting 10,000 bps or 100,000 bps, networks normally express these quantities in terms of larger quantities like kilobits, megabits and gigabits.

The following equations define the mathematics behind these terms:

  • 1 Kbps = 1 kbps = 1 kilobit per second = 1,000 bits per second
  • 1 Mbps = 1,000 Kbps
  • 1 Gbps = 1,000 Mbps
In networking, both "kbps" with a lowercase 'k' and "Kbps" with an uppercase 'K' can be used interchangeably.

Technically, network speed can also be expressed in units of bytes per second, abbreviated as "Bps" with a capital 'B'. Use of these quantities is strongly discouraged in networking to avoid confusion with the bits per second standard:

  • 1 KBps = 1 kBps = 1 kilobyte per second = 8,000 bits per second
Finally, the conventions used for measuring the capacity of computer disks and memory might appear similar at first to those for networks. Do not confuse these conventions.

Data storage capacity is normally measured in units of kilobytes, megabytes and gigabytes. In this non-networking style of usage, 'K' represents a multiplier of 1,024 and 'k' represents a multiplier of 1,000 units of capacity. The following equations define the mathematics behind these terms:

  • 1 KB = 1,024 bytes
  • 1 kB = 1,000 bytes
  • 1 MB = 1,024 KB
  • 1 GB = 1,024 MB
See Also - What Are Bits and Bytes?

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