The mebibyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information. The binary prefix mebi means 220; therefore 1 mebibyte is 1048576bytes. The unit symbol for the mebibyte is MiB. The unit was established by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in 1998. It was designed to replace the megabyte used in some computer science contexts to mean 220 bytes, which is similar to the SI definition of the prefix mega (106) but conflicts with it.
The unit has been accepted for use by all major standards organizations, appears increasingly in scholarly literature and is part of the International System of Quantities. Many Linux distributions use the unit, but the unit has not been widely accepted in the computer industry or popular media. The unit megabyte (symbol MB), formally meaning 1000000bytes, is still commonly used in place of this unit.
|Orders of magnitude of data|
The prefix mebi is a binary prefix derived from the words mega and binary, indicating its origin in the closeness in value to the SI prefix mega. One mebibyte (MiB) is 220 (i.e. 1024 x 1024) bytes, or 1048576bytes. One MiB differs from one megabyte (MB), which means 106 (i.e. 1000 x 1000 = 1000000) bytes.
Despite its official status, the unit mebibyte is not commonly used even when reporting byte counts calculated in binary multiples, but is often represented as megabytes. Formally, one megabyte means 1000 x 1000 bytes. Disk drive manufacturers strictly use decimal units, and the megabyte means 1000000bytes. The discrepancy may cause confusion, since operating systems using the binary method report lower numerical values for storage size than advertised by manufacturers. Many operating systems compute file size in mebibytes, but report the number as MB. For example, all versions of Microsoft Windows operating system shows a file of 220 bytes as "1.00 MB" or "1,024 KB" in its file properties dialog, while showing a file of 106 (1000000) bytes as 976 KB.
Ubuntu developer Canonical implemented an updated Units Policy in 2010 and as of Ubuntu 10.10 all versions now adhere to the IEC binary prefix for base-2 units and the SI prefix for base-10 units. 
The binary prefix mebi, which is a factor of 220, was created to provide an unambiguous unit distinct from the metric SI prefix mega (M), which represents multiplication by 106. An example of such misuse is the marking of 3½-inch HD floppy disks. They have usually been marked 1.44 MB, while their true capacity of 1474560bytes is equal to 1440 KiB. Lower capacity predecessors of this diskette include versions with capacities of 720 KiB (designated "720 KB") and 360 KiB (designated "360 KB").
The prefix mebi was defined by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in December 1998. The use of the binary prefixes has been endorsed by all major international standards bodies.
Binary prefixes are increasingly used in scholarly literature and open source software.
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