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Well, actually the space thief is the formatting. The raw unformatted space might be 500 GB, but each cylinder of each surface of the drive is divided into sectors. In the old days, 32 sectors was typical (sometimes 33, with the 33rd being a “spare” sector in case a surface defect was discovered while formatting). Not sure how many sectors is common now. But formatting puts a recognizable pattern at the start of each sector. That takes up space. You also need a file allocation table (or table of contents) to tell the O.S. what parts of the drive are available, and where to find the parts of specific files. And that takes up a lot of space.
(DISCLAIMER: Its been a LONG time since I was working with drive hardware and drivers, so some of the above might no longer apply.)