An increasingly important aspect when choosing a device – be it a desktop or notebook – is the capacity of the hard disk.
And it couldn’t be any different, since capacity represents the volume and quantity of files that a hard disk is capable of storing. As we store more and more data on our devices, understanding the ideal size of your hard disk capacity really is crucial.
In this article, you will find out what hard disk capacity means, what sizes exist (and which is currently the largest), how to find out the capacity of your hard disk and why it may have a lower capacity than the one indicated on the label.
You will also find out what size hard disk is right for you and how to restore your disk to its original capacity.
What does hard disk capacity mean?
Hard disk capacity means the amount of storage on a hard disk, measured in gigabytes or terabytes. It is measured by the amount of data the hard disk can store – which is usually much more than the space occupied by applications.
What hard disk sizes are available?
Today, there are several sizes of hard disk. The most popular are the following:
16 GB, 32 GB e 64 GB
This range is among the lowest for hard disk storage space and is usually found in older, smaller devices.
120 GB e 256 GB
This range is generally considered an entry point for hard disk devices such as notebooks or computers.
500 GB, 1 TB e 2 TB
Around 500 GB or more of hard disk storage is usually considered sufficient for an average user (who uses their PC regularly and uses intermediate resources – beyond web browsers and text editors).
Users can probably store all their music, photos, videos and other files with this amount of space.
However, for those who use games and software that take up a lot of space, storing 1 TB to 2 TB of hard disk space is more suitable.
Mais que 2 TB
This hard disk space is suitable for users who work with high-resolution files, need to store or host a large amount of data or want to use this space for backup and redundancy.
What is the world’s largest hard disk?
Currently, the largest capacity hard disk is 20 TB. However, hard disks actually have less space than advertised, because the operating system, file system structures and some data redundancy procedures use some of that space.
How do I know the capacity of my disk?
Finding out the capacity of your hard disk varies depending on the operating system of your device (Windows or Mac). So let’s see how to find out the disk capacity on each one:
- Open “Start” and click on the Windows symbol in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. You can also press the Windows key on your keyboard to open the “Start” menu;
- Open “Settings” by clicking on the gear icon in the bottom left-hand corner of the “Start” menu;
- Click on “System”, a computer-shaped icon on the “Settings” page. If a page other than the main settings page opens, click the “Back” button in the top left corner of the window until the “Back” button disappears;
- Click on the “Storage” tab. This option is on the top left-hand side of the “View” page;
- Review the hard disk capacity. Under the heading “Local storage” at the top of the page, you will see an image of your hard disk with the categories “Number used” and “Number free” below. The “Number used” section tells you how much of your computer’s hard disk is being used, while the “Number free” section tells you how much free space is left;
- Open your hard disk. Click on the hard disk icon under the heading “Local storage”. This will open a list, which shows how much space specific types of files, programs, etc. are taking up – which will help you target areas for cleaning if you want to free up some disk space.
- Open the Apple menu by clicking on the Apple symbol in the top left-hand corner of the screen. A dropdown menu will appear;
- Click on “About this Mac”. It is at the top of the dropdown menu. Doing so will open a new window;
- Click on the “Storage” tab. This option is at the top of the “About this Mac” window;
- Review the space on your Mac’s hard disk. In the top right-hand corner of the window, you will see the amount of storage remaining out of the total capacity available on your computer (e.g. “15 GB free out of 249 GB”).
You can also see a color-coded breakdown of the programs that are taking up the most space on this page.
If you hover your mouse over a color-coded section, you can see exactly how much space the files belonging to the section (e.g. “Applications”) are taking up.
Why does my hard drive show a lower capacity than indicated on the label?
Hard disk manufacturers market their disks in terms of decimal capacity (base 10). In decimal notation, a megabyte (MB) is equal to 1,000,000 bytes, a gigabyte (GB) is equal to 1,000,000,000 bytes and a terabyte (TB) is equal to 1,000,000,000,000 bytes.
Programs such as FDISK, system BIOS, Windows and older versions of macOS use the binary numbering system (base 2).
In the binary numbering system, a megabyte is equal to 1,048,576 bytes, a gigabyte is equal to 1,073,741,824 bytes and a terabyte is equal to 1,099,511,627,776 bytes.
Capacity calculation formula
- Decimal capacity / 1,048,576 = binary capacity in MB
- Decimal capacity / 1,073,741,824 = binary capacity in GB
- Decimal capacity / 1,099,511,627,776 = binary capacity in TB.
A 500 GB hard disk has approximately 500,000,000,000 bytes (500 x 1,000,000,000).
When using the binary calculation in GB, (500,000,000,000 / 1,073,741,824) the same 500 GB will appear as 465 gigabytes.
This is why Windows displays a 500 GB drive as 465 GB.
A 5 TB hard disk has approximately 5,000,000,000,000 bytes (5 x 1,000,000,000,000).
When using the binary calculation in TB, (5,000,000,000,000 / 1,099,511,627,776) the same 5 TB will appear as 4.54 terabytes.
This is why Windows displays a 5 TB drive as 4.54 TB.
What is the ideal size for a hard disk?
When thinking about what capacity your hard disk should be, consider the types and volume of files you will be storing on your disk.
You can also consider the intensity of the hard disk’s use when choosing its capacity:
Light use (500 GB – 1 TB)
|Usually recommended for||Home office|
|File types||Documents, small images (3-5mb), non-professional audio (5mb)|
Moderate use (1 TB – 4 TB)
|Usually recommended for||Photographers, videographers, video editors, music producers and game designers, or anynone who wants to make more use of a soft home office|
|File types||Photos(5mb), high-quality professional audio(15-20mb), SD videos (~1.5gb for 2 hours) and small games (300mb-4gb)|
Heavy use (4 TB+)
|Usually recommended for||Content creators, large collections of files, combiantions of any of the above uses|
|File types||HD movies(6-8gb) and/or large games(10+gb)|
As we have seen, the choice of drive size depends not only on the type of data you want to store, but also on the quantity.
But it is worth remembering that you can also delete files from your internal drive and store them on an external drive.
How do I restore hard disk capacity?
To restore hard disk capacity, you can use one of the following 5 fixes:
Fix 1: perform a quick format of the hard disk
You can restore the hard disk capacity with this method easily by following these steps:
- Connect the hard disk to your computer (if it is an external drive) and start “My Computer” (or “This PC”) in “Windows Explorer”;
- Now right-click on the icon of the hard disk that has been reduced and go to the “Format” option;
- Here, you can select a preferred file system or change the drive’s formatting scheme. At the end, click on the “Format” button and wait for your hard disk to be reallocated.
Fix 2: Delete the partition and reformat it via Disk Manager
If quick formatting cannot fix the problem, try this approach.
To do this, use “Disk Manager” to delete the partitions and completely format the hard disk.
- Once the hard disk is connected to your system, you can start “Disk Manager” from the “Start” menu. You can also open the “Run” prompt and type the command “diskmgmt.msc”;
- When “Disk Manager” starts, you can select the partition and right-click on it. From here, you can choose to delete the 32 GB partition from your drive;
- Once you have gotten rid of all the partitions, you can right-click on the hard disk icon and choose to format it;
- This will open a dedicated wizard, where you can select an appropriate file system for the drive. You can follow the wizard and enter the relevant details to successfully format the entire disk.
Fix 3: use the Diskpart utility to format the drive
Sometimes it can be difficult to restore a hard disk to its original size for various reasons.
In this case, the ideal is to start the “Command Prompt” and use the utility Diskpart to correct this problem.
- First connect it to your computer and start “Command Prompt” as an administrator;
- Once the “Command Prompt” has started, type the command “diskpart” to load the disk partition utility;
- Now just type the “list disk” command to get a list of all connected disks. You can also use the “select” command followed by the identifier to mark it (such as “select disk 2”);
- Once the disk is selected, you can type the “clean” command to clear its storage;
- Then type the command “create partition primary” to create the primary partition on your drive;
- At the end, you can type the “format” command to format the drive, followed by its file system. For example, to format the disk in the file system NTFS, you can type the command “format fs=ntfs”.
Fix 4: update the relevant hard disk drivers
If your system is running with an old or outdated driver, you may find it difficult to restore the external hard disk to its full capacity.
To fix this, simply update the drivers (disk or USB) to the latest versions available. Here’s how to restore full hard disk capacity by updating the drivers:
- Go to the “Start” menu and search for “Device Manager” to open the application. Alternatively, you can also open the “Run” prompt and type the command “devmgmt.msc”;
- When the “Device Manager” window opens, you can expand the relevant category and select your hard disk, or driver USB;
- Right-click on the driver icon and choose update driver from here. This will launch a dedicated wizard, which you can follow to search for relevant updates and install them on your system.
Fix 5: Manually install the USB driver software
Finally, you can install your drivers manually. To do this, you need to know the details of the device and you can find the compatible driver by going to its website.
- Simply launch “Device Manager” and right-click on the driver icon to access its properties.
- Once the “Properties” window opens, go to the “Details” section and check the driver’s specifications.
- Now you can simply go to the driver’s official website and install the relevant software on your system to fix it.
Hard disk capacity can vary from 500 GB to over 4 TB. To know the ideal size for your device, consider both the volume and the type of data you need to store and execute.
The larger and more complex the applications and software you need (and the larger the files you need to store), the larger your hard disk capacity should be.
In some cases, restoring the capacity of your hard disk involves formatting – which, unfortunately, can also lead to the loss of your stored data.
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