Computer Makers Sued Over Misleading Hard Drive Sizes

from the about-time dept

Following the lawsuit where we find out it’s okay for HP to sell a half-full ink cartridge while the box says “ink cartridge included” comes another class action lawsuit about deceptive PC maker practices. When you buy your PC, the hard drive size is one of the major selling points. However, when you turn on your shiny new PC, you inevitably find that the available hard drive space is noticeably smaller. Most people just ignore the difference, but now some people are suing Dell, Apple, Gateway, HP, IBM, Sharp, Sony and Toshiba for the practice. What they’re doing, of course, is adding up the space in decimal format as opposed to binary. But, the computer is reading everything in binary, and so there’s a bit of a difference. For obvious reasons, most people assume the results should be the same, but don’t realize the slight shift in the numbers. This is, pretty clearly, a deceptive practice, but who knows what a jury will think. The companies will probably claim they do it because everyone else does, and it’s the only way to be competitive. However, with the price of storage these days, does it really matter that much?

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Comments on “Computer Makers Sued Over Misleading Hard Drive Sizes”

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Adam Rice (user link) says:

decimal sizing standard practice

I went around with some friends over this quite some time ago–I was also of the opinion that sizes should be reported based on the binary size, not the decimal size. As it turns out, someone was able to point me to an industry web page showing that for units above KB, decimal sizing was the industry standard. I can kinda-sorta see the logic in it.

Industry nomenclature:
KB: 1024 bytes
MB: 1000 KB
GB 1000 MB

You want a real discrepancy, look at the difference between formatted/unformatted size!

Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Re: decimal sizing standard practice

Then the drives should be advertised as an 80,000,000,000 byte drive instead of a 80GB drive… or Windows should be rewritten to use decimal sizing.

I’m tired of having to explain to people that paid me to buy and install an 80GB drive why it only shows up as 74GB in Windows.

Nate says:

Re: Re: decimal sizing standard practice

On the box of every hard drive I have ever bought, there IS the notice that the GB size is in Billions of Bytes (and for the most part, the formatted capacity is larger than the stated size). Pretty easy to see before taking it to the checkout counter.

Simple example is on this Western Digital product page:

Same thing is on Dell’s site as well. Not checking others, but know that I have seen it as well.


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