As of 2007
, most consumer hard drives
are defined by their gigabyte-range capacities. The true capacity is usually some number above or below the class designation. Although most manufacturers of hard disks and Flash disks define 1 gigabyte as 1,000,000,000 bytes, the computer operating systems used by most users usually calculate a gigabyte by dividing the bytes (whether it is disk capacity, file size, or system RAM) by 1,073,741,824. This distinction is a cause of confusion, as a hard disk with a manufacturer rated capacity of 400 gigabytes may have its capacity reported by the operating system as only 372 GB, depending on the type of report.
The difference between units based on SI and binary prefixes increases exponentially — in other words, an SI kilobyte is nearly 98% as much as a kibibyte, but a megabyte is under 96% as much as a mebibyte, and a gigabyte is just over 93% as much as a gibibyte. This means that a 500 GB hard disk drive would appear as "465 GB". As storage sizes get larger and higher units are used, this difference will become more pronounced.