Difference Wiki

Coercivity vs. Retentivity: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on October 24, 2023
Coercivity is the ability of a material to resist becoming magnetized, while retentivity is the capacity of a material to remain magnetized after an external field is removed.

Key Differences

Coercivity refers to the strength of an external magnetic field needed to demagnetize a material. In contrast, retentivity concerns the residual magnetism a material retains after the removal of an inducing magnetic field.
Materials with high coercivity are harder to magnetize and demagnetize, while materials with high retentivity can hold onto their magnetism even when the magnetizing force disappears.
Coercivity is a crucial property when designing permanent magnets, ensuring they don't easily lose their magnetism. Retentivity, on the other hand, is essential in applications like data storage where the retention of magnetic states represents bits of information.
While both coercivity and retentivity are measures of a material's magnetic properties, they serve different purposes. Coercivity tests resistance to magnetization changes, while retentivity evaluates the material's ability to remain magnetized.

Comparison Chart


Resistance to becoming magnetized
Capacity to remain magnetized


Important for permanent magnets
Crucial in data storage


Strength of external field to demagnetize
Amount of residual magnetism

Desirable in...

Hard magnetic materials
Soft magnetic materials


Hard to magnetize/demagnetize
Retains magnetism after external field removal

Coercivity and Retentivity Definitions


Refers to how persistently a material resists magnetization.
The coercivity of this compound makes it unsuitable for our application.


Represents the level of retained magnetism in a material.
Magnetic strips on credit cards rely on the retentivity of the embedded material.


The resistance of a magnetic material to demagnetization.
The coercivity of this magnet is quite high, making it durable.


The residual magnetism present in a material after external magnetizing forces are removed.
With such high retentivity, this magnet can hold its charge for a long time.


The measure of a material's ability to withstand an external magnetic field without becoming demagnetized.
With its high coercivity, this magnet won't easily lose its strength.


The magnetic memory of a material once the inducing field is gone.
Because of its low retentivity, this material can't be used for long-term magnetic storage.


A property denoting how difficult it is to magnetize a material.
Hard drive materials must have low coercivity for easy data writing.


A material's ability to stay magnetized after removal of the magnetizing force.
The retentivity of this tape allows it to store data effectively.


The magnetic field intensity required to reduce magnetization of a material to zero.
Materials with greater coercivity are used in permanent magnets.


Measures the magnetic induction remaining in a material when the magnetizing force is zero.
For data storage applications, high retentivity is essential.


The magnetic field intensity needed to reduce the magnetization of a ferromagnetic material from complete saturation to zero, usually measured in teslas.


The quality or state of being retentive.


(uncountable) The quality of being coercive


Capacity or power of retaining.


The intensity of the magnetic field which must be applied in order to reduce the magnetization of a ferromagnetic material to zero after the magnetization of the sample has been driven to saturation


(Physics) The capacity for a body to remain magnetized after the magnetizing field has ceased to exert an effect.


The ability to retain, potential for retention


(sciences) the capacity to retain magnetism after the magnetizing action


The power of retaining; retentive force; as, the retentivity of a magnet.


The power of retaining liquid;
Moisture retentivity of soil


How does retentivity relate to data storage?

Retentivity is crucial in data storage as the retained magnetism represents stored bits of information.

In what scenario would a material's retentivity be especially important?

In scenarios like magnetic recording or data storage, where retained magnetism signifies stored data.

Why is coercivity important for permanent magnets?

High coercivity ensures that permanent magnets don't easily lose their magnetism.

What does coercivity indicate about a magnetic material?

Coercivity indicates how resistant a material is to becoming demagnetized.

Can a material have both high coercivity and high retentivity?

While possible, usually materials with high coercivity are hard magnetic materials and may not have the highest retentivity.

What happens to a material with high retentivity when the external magnetic field is removed?

It retains a significant portion of its magnetism.

How do manufacturers increase the coercivity of magnetic materials?

Through processes like alloying and heat treatments.

What is a practical example of a material with high retentivity?

Magnetic strips on credit cards or hard drive platters.

How do coercivity and retentivity relate to hard and soft magnetic materials?

Hard magnetic materials usually have high coercivity, while soft magnetic materials often have high retentivity.

In layman's terms, what does coercivity tell us?

How tough it is to change a material's magnetic state.

Is coercivity a measure of a magnet's strength?

Not directly; coercivity measures resistance to demagnetization, not the overall strength of the magnet.

Can retentivity be altered in a magnetic material?

Yes, through processes like annealing or altering its composition.

How might temperature affect retentivity?

At certain temperatures, some materials might lose their retained magnetism faster.

Is there a material with zero coercivity?

Practically, all materials will have some level of coercivity, though it might be extremely low in some cases.

Why might a material with low coercivity be useful in some technologies?

Low coercivity materials can be easily magnetized and demagnetized, useful for applications like data writing in hard drives.

Do all materials have some level of coercivity and retentivity?

All magnetic materials have these properties, but their levels can vary widely.

Can both coercivity and retentivity be graphically represented?

Yes, they can be visualized on a material's hysteresis loop.

Are coercivity and retentivity always fixed for a given material?

They can vary based on treatment, temperature, and other factors.

What could be a downside to a material with too high coercivity in certain applications?

It might be too difficult to magnetize or modify its magnetic state in applications like data recording.

How can we measure retentivity?

By assessing the residual magnetism of a material after an external magnetizing field is removed.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons