A kilobyte (kB) is 1000 bytes. A megabyte (MB) is 1000 kB. A gigabyte (GB) is 1000 MB. A terabyte (TB) is 1000 GB. This is the SI norm. However, there are people that use 1 MB=1024000 bytes and talk about 1.44 MB floppies, and people who think that 1 MB=1048576 bytes. Here I follow the proposed standard and write Ki, Mi, Gi, Ti for the binary units, so that these floppies are 1440 KiB (1.47 MB, 1.41 MiB), 1 MiB is 1048576 bytes (1.05 MB), 1 GiB is 1073741824 bytes (1.07 GB) and 1 TiB is 1099511627776 bytes (1.1 TB).
Quite correctly, the disk drive manufacturers follow the SI norm and use the decimal units. However, Linux boot messages and some fdisk-type programs use the symbols MB and GB for binary, or mixed binary-decimal units. So, before you think your disk is smaller than was promised when you bought it, compute first the actual size in decimal units (or just in bytes).
In the present text a sector has 512 bytes. This is almost always
true, but for example certain MO disks use a sectorsize of 2048 bytes,
and all capacities given below must be multiplied by four.
fdisk on such disks, make sure you have version
2.9i or later, and give the `-b 2048' option.)
A disk with C cylinders, H heads and S sectors per track
*S sectors in all, and can store
For example, if the disk label says C/H/S=4092/16/63
then the disk has 4092
*63=4124736 sectors, and can hold
*512=2111864832 bytes (2.11 GB).
There is an industry convention to give C/H/S=16383/16/63
for disks larger than 8.4 GB, and the disk size can no longer
be read off from the C/H/S values reported by the disk.