The HP Pavilion computer obtained from McGuire’s attorney’s office had a 60 gigabyte hard drive, and not all of it was searched by Seymour.
She told the jury that it is known in the computer industry that if information stored on a 12 gigabyte computer was put on paper it would create a stack of paper higher than the Empire State Building.
There was a time once when PCs were just overevolved typewriters and it made sense to express everything in “number of pages”. That time has long gone. Let’s convert that 12 GB into today’s storage currencies:
- 12 GB is the equivalent of 17 CD-ROMs of data (700MB)
- not yet 3 full DVDs (4.7GB)
- Not even one HD-DVD (15/30GB) or Blu-Ray (25/50GB) disc
- 4000 3MB (+-8 megapixel) pictures in JPG format
- 12 days of MP3 recordings (at 96Kbps)
- 16 episodes (not even one full season) of Lost, Prison Break or Heroes
Moreover, a conversion to typed-out A4s only makes sense if you specify font-size, spacing, margins and usage of duplex printing, in which case it remains an impractical antiquated unit.
A jury full of technophobes/non-experts shouldn’t be baffled with exaggerations like a “tower the size of the Empire State”. If you do not take into account the operating system, programs, images, music and movies, what remains on a hard disk of searchable data created by the owner? Maybe 2-5 gigabytes, thanks to MS Office’s bloated file formats. And the most important stuff for computer forensics is maybe 5MB: browser history, cookies, IM transcripts, emails and Office documents converted to text.