Western Digital Settles Capacity Suit

Western Digital will provide free backup software to around 1 million customers as part of a class action settlement relating to how the company marketed the size of its hard drives. Western Digital was sued last year for advertising a drive as 80GB when it only physically stored 74.4GB.

The capacity difference is caused by computers using a binary system that defines 1GB as 1,073,741,824 bytes. Western Digital labeled its hard drives using a decimal definition in which 1GB was 1,000,000,000 bytes. The lawsuit alleged that the disk maker misled customers and violated the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act.

Any person or entity who purchased a Western Digital hard drive from March 22, 2001 to February 15, 2006 is eligible to receive a free copy of the backup software, which has been valued at $30.00. The software product to be offered was not specified, but it will work on both Windows and Mac OS X.

To receive the software, customers must file claims by July 16 on the Western Digital Web site.

The settlement, approved by U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard Zimmerman in San Francisco this month, also calls for Western Digital to add a disclaimer on its products noting that usable storage space may differ from advertised capacity. Most hard drive makers have a similar warning on their retail packaging.

San Francisco lawyers Adam Gutride and Seth Safier will receive attorneys’ fees of up to $485,000 and expenses up to $15,000 for their work in the case, pending approval of the proposal. The pair has also filed a similar lawsuit against Seagate Technology.

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