Friday, November 2, 2007

GB vs GiB

Did you purchase a Seagate HDD between 22 March 2001 and 26 September 2007? Did you purchase it in America? Did you purchase it separately, i.e. not bundled with a PC? If you answer "yes" to all of the above then you are eligible to "free backup and recovery software, or a cash payment equivalent to five percent of the net amount you paid for the hard drive."

If you are as lost and confused as to why, that's understandable. Read this article and that should clear things up for you. Basically it boils down to the following:

Cho alleged that Seagate's use of the decimal definition of the storage capacity term "gigabyte" (GB) whereby 1GB equals 1 billion bytes, was misleading to consumers because computer operating systems instead report hard drive capacity using a binary definition of GB, whereby 1GB equals 1, 073, 741, 824 bytes -- a difference of approximately 7% from Seagate's figures.
The first thing to do is head over to the definition of the SI units. The definition of a GB (or KB, MB or whatever!) has always had it's split between what the SI units call a GB and GiB (take note of the i). According to the SI units, a GB, which is what HDD manufacturers use when stating HDD specs, is 109 bytes and not 230 bytes as Cho claims.

Cho claims, however, that operating systems define a GB as 230 bytes. While true, why aren't Microsoft, Apple and other OS companies being sued? Aren't they the ones that have gone against the standard? Most storage mediums are in fact sold by the GB so it should be a lot easier for the OS to budge.

Taking a step back, the GB vs GiB divide dates back many, many years. It's been going on for so long, that really anyone that would notice the difference should be technically minded enough to know about what uses what measurement. There's an easy fix though -- all things using a 109 byte GB should use the GiB unit instead. The standard is out there, it just needs to be properly adopted. There is, however, one reason for HDD manufacturers to budge -- RAM will always be measured in GiB due to its construction, whereas HDDs are not restricted in any way.

On the other side of things, why are there so many restrictions on who can claim? I can understand why this only applies to purchases in America since this case was in American court. However, why does this only apply to HDDs purchased separately? Does this mean we're going to see a spurt of new allegations coming from those purchasing PCs with built-in HDDs? What will happen to DVD/HD DVD/Bluray manufacturers who also use a GB of 109 bytes?

And yes, I have made a purchase that meets the restrictions. And no, I will not be going through the mission of getting what will amount to some measly $10 or something pathetic.


  1. I actually did buy a Seagate external HD, in October. And they still use the stupid 1000 = GB. But the fact is, so do most other manufacturers. And regardless, getting free backup software is hardly motivation to go and complain.

  2. October would be too late. You had to have purchased it latest September. And I suppose you didn't purchase it in America? I fully agree with the lack of motivation, same reason I'm not bothering. Paolo could have done with the backup software before last week though. :-P

    GB = 1000 is correct though! According to the SI standards at least. As I said in the post, it's the OS that is incorrect.

  3. I think the OS is right because it's how internal things are measured. In fact, from the beginning measuring was based on the two-based system and maybe the guys in the SI don't have enough view of the subject!