Seagate lawsuit concludes, settlement announced

Written by Phil Cogar

October 26, 2007 // 12:41 p.m.

Tags: #base10 #base2 #byte #hard-disc-drive #hard-drive #hdd #lawsuit #seagate #settlement

The recent lawsuit against Seagate about advertised capacity and actual capacity has wrapped up, and settlement information is out.

US customers who purchased a Seagate hard drive, either OEM or retail (but not pre-installed in a machine) between March 22, 2001 and September 26, 2007 from an authorized Seagate retailer are entitled to one of two settlement options:

The first option is a cash benefit, which entitles eligible customers to 5 percent cash back on the price they paid for the hard drive, pretax. Claims must be filed via a mail-in form available on the settlement site linked above.

The second option is a software benefit and entitles eligible customers to a free copy of the Seagate Software Suite, which carries a retail value of $40. Claims for the software benefit can be filed online.

The case is centered around the difference between a gigabyte at 1,000,000,000 bytes and a binary gigabyte at 1,073,741,824 bytes. This difference has been known for years and is common among all hard drive manufacturers. Hard drive manufacturers measure and advertise their GB’s in base10 while most operating systems, including all versions of Windows and MacOS, measure their GB’s in base2 – the binary number system consisting of 1’s and 0’s that resides at the ground level of all computer functioning.

Megabyte for megabyte the difference is completely negligible, but with both Seagate and Western Digital joining Hitachi in the 1TB hard drive market, that minor size difference can add up quickly (just over 68.5GB on a 1TB drive; there’s just under a 7% discrepancy between a base10 GB and a base2 GB)

Post-lawsuit requirements of Seagate require them to not only correct the advertisement mistake for future drives and provide the listed benefits to customers, but they must also pay the plaintiff’s legal fees – and it's no pocket change at $1.8 million. However, many questions are left: will other hard drive manufacturers soon hear from lawyers? Will Microsoft be sued for the FAT system which consumes a portion of space relative to a drive’s size to map out a storage device?

Do you think that this lawsuit is a load of bologna or has it been in the making for many years? Let us know how you feel over in the forums.
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