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Why Pen Drive/ Hard Disk Space Shows less than Stated Capacity

Why pen drive capacity shows less than stated capacity

You may often get confused about the storage capacity of your hard disk or flash drives. A 160 GB Hard Disk shows only 148 GB. A 30 GB hard disk partition shows only 29.2 GB usable space. A 8 GB pen drive shows at most 7.56 GB storage capacity. But why the stated capacity of the drive can't be usable? Read the full post. This is our today's discussion. 

Few days ago my 8 GB Apacer Brand Flash Drive gets damaged. Its capacity was 7.44 GB. I went to the vendor and submitted this to get a replacement (if possible). And also purchased a new one (Same Brand). But this time I'm really disappointed. Though its stated capacity is 8 GB, it shows only 7.2 GB usable space. 800 MB less capacity. 

As the price gets half the quality follows the it. Two years ago I purchased that pen drive costing $12. But 5 days ago it takes less than $7. Well I'm afraid. I'm anxious about the service life of the new pen drive. 

Let's back to the discussion. Our discussion is about the actual usable capacity vs. listed capacity. And why actual space is always less than stated capacity. 

There are 3 different reasons behind it: 
  • Different operating systems treat your disk differently. Windows OS may not show the disk space like Linux, Mac or Unix. There are little discrepancies between the file formats and algorithms used by different operating systems. (It doesn't matter much)
  • Another reason is that- A portion of memory space is reserved for system files and data sector for better performance. This is the primary reason behind the less usable space than the mentioned space. 
  • The last reason but not the least is the calculation method used by the disk manufacturing companies. They consider 1 KB = 1000 Bytes. But your OS may consider it as 1 KB = 1024 KB. Here you are also losing a considerable amount of disk space. 

Look at the calculation below: 

Virtual Storage              Disk Storage

1 MB = 1024 KB                      1 MB = 1000 KB

1 GB = 1024 MB                      1 GB = 1000 MB

8 GB = 8192 MB                      8 GB = 8000 MB

7.2 GB = 7372 MB                   7.2 GB = 7200 MB

So, you are getting 172 MB less space because of using 1 KB = 1000 Bytes!

Now what do you think? Shouldn't the manufacturer mention the actual usable memory on the packet? :) 

Stay with Marks PC Solution to get more interesting IT topics!


  1. Thanks a lot for clearing the clouds of confusion and doubts regarding the storage capacities of the pd's and hd's. I always have a question mark regarding the same and also a feel of getting something less than the expected. But now it's been resolved. Thanks to you.....

    1. You're welcome Mister! We just expect you to stay with us . . .

  2. but my 16gb pendrive is showing only 14.45gb what's the reason?

    1. My 8 GB pen drive shows 7.2 only. Then double it 7.2*2= 14.4 GB. There are three possible reasons stated above.

      But Good Quality pen drive shows at least 15 GB. What is your brand?

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. but i still didn't get it.. since 1024 > 1000 , than where is the fault. 1024 is used by computers and 1000 is used by manufacturer in showing off?? right!...but then still we are getting more space of amount 24..isn't it??

    1. Ur system consumes space too. That's why u get less.

  5. When the Pen drive is inserted in Laptop it shows 7.6 GB free memory then Manufacturers of disk drives will usually publish a disclaimer in this respect that the figures stated by them are in the base 10 of the number system...-Bulk Flash Drive


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