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Did WD lie to me about this hard drive?

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July 24, 2008 2:04:02 AM

I bought a "My Passport Essential" hard drive disk from WD the other day. I reformatted the drive to NFTS which deleted all the crap that come on it. I bought it back up my music and video files so I didn't need the software and all the junk that came with it. Before and after reformatting I noticed that the drive only has 299 GB of free space on it. The drive is advertised as having 230 GB of space.

I know that this happens with hard drives. I know that we never actually get the full capacity that drives are advertised at; however, losing 21 GB on a drive is crazy to me. Not to mention there is not a single thing on this drive. Literally, I open up this drive from My Computer and there is not one file on it yet. So where does the 21 GB of space go? Can I get it back? Is there any formatting that can be done? Is WD lying?

The drive works fine but this problem has always kind of baffled me. Any information would be much apprectiated. Thanks.

More about : lie hard drive

July 24, 2008 2:17:11 AM

ok, im confused.
1. you have 69GB more than advertised?
2. you somehow have 21GB less at the same time?
3 either way your math is wrong.
July 24, 2008 2:17:46 AM

BTW, you can always expect a 10% overhead.
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Anonymous
a b G Storage
July 24, 2008 2:20:17 AM

is the 21 GB the data that was originally on the drive...

nevermind... your post makes no sense... please edit or post again
July 24, 2008 2:26:09 AM

Quote:
is the 21 GB the data that was originally on the drive...

nevermind... your post makes no sense... please edit or post again


He probably means it's a 320 Gig drive, and after formatting he's seeing 299, which of course is as expected.
July 24, 2008 2:30:25 AM

Jeez, sorry. I meant that it was advertised as having 320 GB like BustedSony pointed out.
Anonymous
a b G Storage
July 24, 2008 2:32:47 AM

^ thats what I thought originally... but... IDK... his post seems highly stupid...

lets just say they did lie to you... (decieve is better because they didn't really lie.....anyway) it wouldn't matter... you still have tons of space... the drive works fine... so I don't see the issue...

a better way of putting it is... Whats the point of this thread?
July 24, 2008 2:36:23 AM

BustedSony said:
He probably means it's a 320 Gig drive, and after formatting he's seeing 299, which of course is as expected.

+1
July 24, 2008 2:36:45 AM

Drive manufacturers: 1000MB = 1GB

Windows: 1024MB = 1GB

Do the math (or a google search)
a b G Storage
July 24, 2008 2:38:26 AM

I thought everyone had figured this out a long time ago...

320,000,000 / 1.024 = 312,500,000 actual bits on the disks. 320GB is the decimal number, but computers are binary, so the actual number is a bit less. It is from the 312GB number that you then need to take formatting into account. No body is ripping you off, its the difference between advertised numbers from people who went to school learning to sell things, and the usable number actually found on the disk.

My 250GB was formatted as ~232GB usable, and my 320GB was ~298GB. Don't worry about it, your fine.
July 24, 2008 2:51:57 AM

The point of the thread is to understand what happens to 21 GBs of a 320 GB drive. I'm not terribly upset about the drive's performance - like you said thogrom, it works. I simply was hoping some one would tell me why that happens.

The 1000gb vs 1024gb version would only account for an approximate 3% decrease in usable drive space.

1000/1024 = .977 -----> 320*.977 = 312.6

July 24, 2008 2:53:46 AM

It's just one of those confusing marketing tactics that manufacturers come up with all the time. Another similar example is when AMD started advertising their Athlon XP processors as "2800+" or "3200+", meaning they were supposedly faster than Pentium 4 2.8 Ghz and 3.2 Ghz respectively. Whether those chips were really equivalent/faster to their counterpart Pentium 4 chips or not, the fact was that they were not actually 2.8 Ghz or 3.2 Ghz. Their actual speeds were 2.08 Ghz and 2.17 Ghz, which would make them sound much slower to the average, uninformed consumer. So, AMD came up with their deceptive (although not entirely untrue), but effecitve marketing campaign to advertise their chips. There are literally tons of examples like this. So, whenever you see advertisements, you should take it with a grain of salt and do your homework to really understand what's going on - even when they deal with what should be straight up facts like numbers.
July 24, 2008 2:54:12 AM

Forget my last post. Thanks 4745454b
a b G Storage
July 24, 2008 3:05:30 AM

jtwpm3 said:
The point of the thread is to understand what happens to 21 GBs of a 320 GB drive. I'm not terribly upset about the drive's performance - like you said thogrom, it works. I simply was hoping some one would tell me why that happens.

The 1000gb vs 1024gb version would only account for an approximate 3% decrease in usable drive space.

1000/1024 = .977 -----> 320*.977 = 312.6

Nope.

You aren't going far enough. Not only is 1GB = 1024MB according to windows, but 1 MB = 1024KB, and 1 KB = 1024B.

To drive makers, 1GB = 1000MB, 1MB = 1000KB, and 1KB = 1000B.

Windows uses binary, drive manufacturers use decimal.

1 decimal KB = 0.9766 binary KB (1000/1024)
1 decimal MB = 0.9537 binary MB (1000^2/1024^2)
1 decimal GB = 0.9313 binary GB (1000^3/1024^3)
1 decimal TB = 0.9095 binary TB (1000^4/1024^4)

Based on this, 320 decimal GB = 320*0.9313 binary GB = 298.023 GB. In other words, your drive has a true decimal 320GB of storage. Formatting isn't taking any significant chunk.
a b G Storage
July 24, 2008 3:10:24 AM

Yeah, hard drive manufacturers tend to use 1,000 instead of 1,024 for 1KB.

You also need to be aware that the file structure itself (NTFS, Fat 32, Fat 16, whatever for MACs) takes up some space as well.
July 24, 2008 3:25:07 AM

Thanks cjl, that all makes sense now. I guess I remember learning about that in grade school. Good reminder.
July 24, 2008 3:33:32 AM

CJL--

Your post was useful and clear enough that I copied it to my Tech Tips folder for easy reference.

Most of us do not keep the difference between OEM decimal and Windows binary in our heads, anyway.

But at least fewer will be mystified when someone asks where the "missing" GBs went.

Well done.
a b G Storage
July 24, 2008 4:58:34 AM

No problem :) 

I suspect the people who notice the "missing" space will only increase too, as the larger the drives get, the more discrepancy there is between the two values. Once the new Seagate 1.5TB drives come out next month, I suspect that we'll see several people asking why it only shows as 1.36TB.
July 24, 2008 6:01:03 AM

It's not a lie, it's called marketing. They know the majority of users will use their drives in an environment that calculates the amount of Bytes using binary prefixes. That doesn't matter. What matters is that their box can display a bigger number if they use the decimal prefix.
July 25, 2008 7:10:45 AM

i think that they should change it to decimal bits. that way they can fit even higher numbers on and nontechies or people that just don't notice will know nonthe wiser.
July 25, 2008 10:00:47 AM

szwaba67 said:
It's not a lie, it's called marketing.
Actually, its called "science" or perhaps "history". Hard drive manufacturers have consistently specified storage capacity in decimal terms since the 1950s, from the first ever commercially available magnetic 'hard' disk storage device; the IBM 350 (part of the 305 RAMAC computer).

For the first 25 years of magnetic 'hard' disk technology, the only 'consumers' who even knew these products existed were engineers, physicists, mathematicians, and others with advanced training or knowledge that keenly understood these things.

Plenty of them raised objections to 'funny business' in the meaning of storage-related terms over the years, typically against the binary misappropriation of decimal prefixes. That's right. Since the 1960s, the objection among computer scientists has typically been against using decimal prefixes in the binary sense.

But alas, nobody managed to come up with an alternative that gathered much support, though several serious proposals were discussed. They may not have liked the use of decimal prefixes in the binary sense, but they often disliked the proposed alternatives even more (some were rather unweildy or cryptic). And it didn't help the perceived 'importance' of resolving this matter when real examples of harm arising from confusion were non-existent for 25+ years due to the sophistication of the consumer.

Its good and well to say "Hey, this is going to cause confusion for people...many many years from now." But when things progress to "OMG, the guy down the hall asked me where his gigabytes went", it tends to drive home that the potential is real.

And so hard drive manufacturers have been consistent from the very beginning. The only thing that has changed is the sophistication of the average consumer; from computer engineers and scientists to...ahem...any Joe Blow (brain cells optional).
July 25, 2008 11:24:03 AM

tcsenter, I think you're giving people too much credit regarding "the sophistication of the average consumer." They just learned to press right click, see properties, then compare it to the HD label. That's all. ;) 
a b G Storage
July 25, 2008 3:05:03 PM

zeroy - that was his point. He said that the average consumer went from computer engineers and scientists (when computers were expensive and bulky) to "any Joe Blow (brain cells optional)"
July 26, 2008 2:39:24 PM

Oh.. you're right. I obviously wasn't paying attention. =(
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