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But the real question is, does this distinction mean I can claim that 5 inches is actually 8 inches?

harddrive.jpgOn the technology front, Western Digital has decided to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by consumers over its alleged misrepresentation of hard drive storage capacity. There are several lawsuits like this floating around across the country (I was actually involved in defending another tech company in a similar class-action lawsuit several years ago), and they all stem from the difference between the decimal and binary systems.

In a nutshell, the tech companies like to advertise storage using the decimal system, so a “gigabyte” to them is 1 billion bytes. The software folks, meanwhile, use the binary system and therefore see a “gigabyte” as being 1.07 billion bytes. Thus, a drive which Western Digital advertises as 50 gigabytes is reported by Windows or Mac OS X as only being about 47 gigabytes. While this is arguably misleading by the hard drive and storage folks, my interpretation of the law at the time I was involved in the matter is that it’s totally on the up-and-up from a legal standpoint. In fact, there’s even a federal statute which says that a company can’t be sued for properly using the decimal system, which is exactly what Western Digital and others are doing. But Western Digital clearly decided it was best to just get out of this muck-a-muck, rather than trying to carry on the fight.