Gigabyte's hard disk rip-off sanctioned

Read the small prints in most = computer adverts and you might notice a phrase saying "1GB is equivalent to 1,000,000,000 bytes".

A lawsuit against hard drive manufacturer Seagate could potentially change the way hard drive and media capacities are enumerated and end one of the more controversial feuds between consumers and manufacturers.

At its heart is the way storage is defined. Manufacturers see 1GB as being 1 billion bytes when in fact, it should be roughly 1.07 billion bytes when calculated in binary format - that amounts for a difference of 7%.

That is minuscule but when you're speaking of large capacity hard drives, the numbers quickly add up. On a 500GB Hard drive, that's a huge 35GB.

The manufacturer has agreed to refund 5 per cent of the purchase price of hard drive purchased by Seagate customers since March 2001 till September 2007.

Unfortunately, only US customers will be able to reclaim the payback.

It remains to be seen whether other vendors will also be sued or if they will change the way the total capacity of their drives is displayed.