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Understand the functions, storage capabilities, and typical problems that Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) face in computers. Learn more about these important data storage devices.
What is a hard disk drive?
A non-volatile data storage device is an HDD in a computer. Storage devices that retain stored data even when shut off are referred to as non-volatile. HDDs are the only kind of storage device that is required by all computers.
Hard disk drives (HDDs) are often found within business storage arrays in data centers, consumer gadgets, mobile devices, and desktop PCs. Applications, operating systems, and other data can be stored on magnetic drives.
To be more precise, hard disk drives regulate the writing and reading of the data-storage hard disk. In a computer, HDDs can be used as the primary or secondary storage device. Typically located in the drive bay, they are linked to the motherboard via various cable types such as Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA), Serial ATA, parallel ATA, or Small Computer System Interface (SCSI). The HDD may retain recorded data even when it is not switched on since it is also attached to a power supply device.
Why are hard drives necessary for computers?
Hard drives and other storage devices are required for the installation of operating systems, applications, and other storage devices as well as for document storage. It would be impossible for computer users to save programs or save files or documents on their computers without hardware like HDDs, which can keep data even after they have been switched off. For this reason, a computer must have at least one storage device to save data for as long as it is required.
How do hard drives function?
Several disk platters, or circular disks composed of glass, ceramic, or aluminum, are arranged around a spindle inside a sealed chamber to form the majority of basic hard drives. A motor attached to the spindle rotates the platter. The read/write heads, which use a magnetic head to record data to and from tracks on the platters, are also included in the chamber. Additionally, the disks include a tiny layer of magnetic coating.
The platters are rotated at up to 15,000 revolutions per minute by the motor. The read-and-write heads on each platter are magnetically recording and reading data as they spin, and their position is managed by a second motor.
The capacity of hard drives to store data
The following are a few of the most popular storage disk capacities:
- 64, 32, and 16 gigabytes. Older and more compact devices usually have HDD storage capacities in this category, which is among the lowest.
- 120 and 256 gigabytes. In general, this range is regarded as a starting point for HDD devices, such as PCs and laptops.
- 1 TB, 2 TB, and 500 GB. For the ordinary user, 500 GB or more of HDD storage is usually regarded as enough. With this much capacity, users can probably save all of their pictures, movies, music, and other things. One TB to two TB of HDD capacity should be plenty for those who have large-format games.
- Exceeding 2 TB. Users that work with high-resolution files, need to store or handle a lot of data or wish to use that capacity for backup and redundancy should choose anything more than 2 TB of HDD space.
The largest HDD capacity available right now is 20 TB. Because the operating system, file system architecture, and some data redundancy methods eat up space, an HDD’s real capacity is less than its claimed amount.
Hard drive type factors and components
The spindle, disk platter, actuator, actuator arm, and read/write head are the parts of a hard disk drive. A hard disk is a series of stacked disks or the portion of an HDD that stores and retrieves data on an electromagnetically charged surface, even if the phrase can also apply to the device as a whole.
The actual dimensions or shape of the data storage device are referred to as the HDD form factor. The length, breadth, and height of HDD form factors, together with the location and orientation of the host interface connection, are all governed by industry standards. Having a form factor that is an industry-standard aids in establishing common interoperability across many computer devices.
The 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch form factors—also referred to as small form factor (SFF) and large form factor (LFF)—are the most widely used HDD form factors in corporate systems. The diameter of the platter within the drive enclosures is approximated by the 2.5- and 3.5-inch specifications.
Although there are other form factors, the development of devices with 1.3-inch, 1-inch, and 0.85-inch form factors was stopped by manufacturers by 2009. These other form factors were nearly obsolete because of the declining cost of flash. It’s also crucial to remember that real measurements are given in millimeters, even though nominal sizes are expressed in inches.
A large number of SSDs are made to fit the HDD form factor. Data is often transferred to and from the host computer system through the SATA, or serial-attached SCSI (SAS), interface by SSDs that mount in the same slots as HDDs.
Common hard drive troubles
Hard drives can malfunction for a variety of causes.
- Electrical failure can happen when the electronic circuitry of a hard drive is damaged by a power surge, for example, leading to the failure of the circuit board or read/write head. A hard drive that turns on but is unable to boot or read and write data is probably experiencing an electrical malfunction in one or more of its parts.
- Mechanical failure Both normal wear and tear and forceful impacts, such as a hard drop, can result in mechanical failure. Among other things, this might result in the read/write drive head colliding with a revolving platter and inflicting permanent bodily harm.
- Logical failure when the hard disk’s software is corrupted or stops functioning correctly, logical failure occurs. A logical failure can result from several forms of data corruption. This includes erroneous program or computer shutdown procedures, malware, viruses, damaged data, human mistakes, and inadvertently erasing files that are essential to the operation of the hard drive.
- Bad sector failure may happen when a hard disk’s rotational platter’s magnetic media is misaligned, rendering a portion of the platter inaccessible. When they do occur, bad sectors are frequent and frequently small. But as time goes on, there may be more faulty sectors, which might ultimately result in a system crash, data that is inaccessible, or a hard drive that hangs or lags.
Is it better to say “hard drive” or “hard disk drive”?
It is accurate to say that “hard drive” and “hard disk drive” have the same meaning. Using the phrase “hard drive” helps set it apart from an SSD (solid-state drive), which is devoid of any moving elements, platters, or disk-shaped components.