Seagate … is offering customers a five percent refund on drives bought during the last six years following a lawsuit over the definition of a “gigabyte”.Even though I own at least 6 qualifying drives personally and have caused the corporate purchase of about 40 more (Seagate is my preferred disk vendor by far), I don’t think it’s right to collect on this. You shouldn’t, either. Quick summary for non-geeks from Wikipedia:
A gigabyte or Gbyte (derived from the SI prefix giga-) is a unit of information or computer storage meaning either 1000³ bytes or 1024³ bytes (1000³ = one billion). The usage of the word "gigabyte" is ambiguous, depending on the context. When referring to RAM sizes and file sizes, it traditionally has a binary definition, of 1024³ bytes. For every other use, it means exactly 1000³ bytes. In order to address this confusion, currently all relevant standards bodies promote the use of the term "gibibyte" for the binary definition.
Hard drives are advertised as if “1 gigabyte” meant 1,000,000,000 bytes. But when your computer tells you how big files are, or how much free space you have, they think a gigabyte is 1,073,741,824 bytes. Therefore, hard drives always have far less usable space than they claim on the box.
I knew what I was getting. I knew that each “250 GB” drive would only have 232 GB of space, and I bought them anyway. That’s life as a computer guy — you account for it and move on.
Seagate was using a perfectly valid definition of “gigabyte” — just not the same one that most computer software uses. It’s misleading at best.
Hard drives have always been advertised this way. So have DVD-R discs and some flash memory cards. RAM, cache memory, and CD-R discs are advertised with their true capacities. Floppy disks had less usable space than advertised for a different reason (filesystem overhead from formatting).
The entire storage industry is equally guilty, not just Seagate.
Furthermore, Seagate had to do it. It’s standard practice in the industry, and they can’t reasonably expect to do business if they’re selling a 232 GB drive when everyone else is selling 250 GB drives at the same price. As a publicly traded company, Seagate is required by law to make its best effort to succeed in the marketplace.
The right way to correct this isn’t by suing individual companies — it’s to lobby the FTC to enact a regulation that all storage manufacturers would need to follow by a particular deadline.
Collecting money from Seagate on this is greedy freeloading. I won’t do it, and I hope you won’t.