Hard drives - Part 1 - What are they? - Geek Guru

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Hard drives – Part 1 – What are they?

In this series of mini-blogs we’re looking at hard drives. What are hard drives, why do they fail and what can you do to extended their life and prevent data loss?

What is a hard drive?

Hard drives come in many sizes and formats. You get large ones for desktops, small ones for laptops, fast ones for servers and eco friendly ones to reduce power requirements. A traditional hard drive is basically a magnetic platter that stores bits of data as magnetic 1s and 0s. This magnetic platter is circular and spins around its central axis at many times per second. A typical consumer hard drive will spin at either 5400 or 7200 RPM. That means that every second your drive will have spun 120 times around it’s axis.

The data on a drive is read via a drive head that scans over the platter a fraction of a millimetre above the platters surface. This drive head can move around very fast to locate specific data stored on the platter and is the reason for the very slight clicking you can sometimes hear from a working drive.

Aside from the CD drive your hard drive is almost certainly one of the only electro-mechanical devices left in your desktop PC or laptop. Most other components such as the motherboard and CPU are what we call ‘solid state’ and do not contain any moving parts.

Next Time – Why do Hard Drives Fail?

A hard drives mechanical nature means it must be treated differently to most other PC components. Keep an eye out for our next instalment when we look at why hard drives fail.

Posted on by Tim
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