Why is There a Missing Space on My Hard Disk?

Why is There a Missing Space on My Hard Disk?

Category: Computers


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When I conducted my summer training for teachers, one of the most prevalent questions to me was regarding the “missing” hard disk space.

missing hard disk space

They kept asking why is it that when you check the storage capacity of a hard disk in Windows Explorer, it’s not exactly as what it is stated even if the hard disk is still new?

At the right is an image of my laptop’s hard disk space. It is supposed to be 40 GB (gigabytes) but why is it only showing 37.2 GB? (Click on the image to make it larger)

Where’s the “missing” 2.8 GB?

The answer lies in the way disk space is being reported. You see, hard disk manufacturers (humans) reports the data in decimal number system while computers in binary. In a decimal system, numbers are counted from 0-9 and expressed as powers of ten. In a binary system, there are only two numbers, 0 and 1 and expressed as powers of two. The prefix BI means two. Computers can only crunch zeros and ones.

Got it? Let’s proceed.

1 KB (kilobyte) can be understood by humans as 1,000 bytes because 10^3 (10 multiplied by itself 3 times) is 1,000 while computers can understand it as 1,024 bytes because 2^10 (2 multiplied by itself 10 times) is 1,024. There’s an immediate discrepancy of 24 bytes right there. As you go higher in value, the discrepancy also rises.

>> 1 MB (megabyte) in decimal is equal to 1,000,000 bytes (10^6) but equal to 1,048,576 bytes (2^20) in binary.

>> 1 GB (gigabyte) in decimal is equal to 1,000,000,000 bytes (10^9) but equal to 1,073,741,824 bytes (2^30) in binary.

>> and so on..

So now, we go back to my question above.

When my hard disk space shows 37.2 GB instead of 40 GB, it simply means that my hard disk has a storage capacity of only 37.2 GB. That is, 37.2 binary GB. The “missing” 2.8 GB did not go anywhere. It’s just that the disk space is being reported in two different ways.

Additional note: This is not only applicable to hard disks but also to your USB drives, MP3 players, cell phone and digital camera memory cards or any other digital storage devices.

DISCLAIMER: Kung sumakit man ang ulo nio sa pag-intindi nito, hindi ko na kasalanan un, hehe..

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11 Responses to “Why is There a Missing Space on My Hard Disk?”

  1. BPMS -oliverdt Says:

    Hi! Ark, Thank you for your comment on my blog. Piece of advice my friend, if you’re interested with gomez peer you are welcome to join on the peer. But to be honest with you its kinda hard to get activated nowadays, why?. Because many Members here in the philippines are already running the peer. You need to get active first before they pay you through paypal.

    But also lets consider the fact that you maintain or operate different kinds of computer in your school, Am I rigt? High Specs computer is more chance to get activated fast. Specially if you install all the gomez clients to every computer you operate, using your account.

    I own a computer shop/cafe/gaming thats why is easy for me to get activated and get higher earnings than anybody else. More Computers running peer much better.

    Its up to you Ark, I already gave you some pointers.

    [Reply]

    ark Reply:

    Hmm, mahirap pala. Nadiscourage tuloy agad ako, hehe.. Correction I don’t work in a school. It’s just that we provide assistance to schools. Each school has their own computer laboratory managers so I can’t really just tinker with their computer units.

    Anyway, thanks for the pointers.

    [Reply]

  2. sarz Says:

    teacher na teacher nman talga! let’s start with 1+1=10 LOL

    [Reply]

    ark Reply:

    Share ko lang gud akuang mga gamay nga nahibaw-an, hehe..

    [Reply]

  3. enad Says:

    that was brain damaging mr. ark. to be honest. ill be needing more brainspace. lol

    [Reply]

    ark Reply:

    Haha, maybe its time to upgrade and buy a new brain with a larger memory space, hehe..

    [Reply]

    enad Reply:

    kung pwde lang, why not? hay kailan pa kaya ako magkakaroon ng enough post sa bago kung blog?

    [Reply]

    ark Reply:

    Ikaw lang ang makakasagot nian bro. Kailangan kasi ng sipag at tiyaga eh if you want to become a successful blogger.

    [Reply]

    enad Reply:

    i started blogging in 2005. i started but never continued. busy with life you know. mga ano na kaya ang pr ko ngayon. anyway, please visit my new blog about the filipino world

    [Reply]

    ark Reply:

    Maganda ung new site mo bro. Keep up the good work. Good luck.

    [Reply]

  4. enad Says:

    thankies. i just added a new post about filipino version of chinglish

    [Reply]

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