18 September, 2010
Last week’s article focused on computer specifications or performance – in particular the CPU so this week we will look at another major component – the hard disk drive (HDD). This component is responsible to the permanent storage in the computer. Physically it is between one and four metallic platters that spin at normally 7200 RPM inside a metal housing. These platters have millions of tiny electromagnetic fields that represent our data as ones or zeros. These fields even hold their charge when the PC is turned off however when the PC is running they are getting read or even changed by the operating system. Because the HDD is an electro-mechanical devise (it has bearings and a motor) it can experience a failure (you have heard people say that their HDD failed and they lost all of their data). HDD’s are rated by the manufacturer to run fine on average for tens of thousands of hours (however this is an average) and you can be the unlucky one that helps to lower this average (a HDD can even fail when it is brand new) – just the same as a brand new car can have a fault. It is for this reason that having a separate backup of all of your important data is so important. Anyway HDD’s are getting more efficient each year and new models are able to both hold more data and provide it more quickly on demand. Only 5 years ago that largest hard drives were around 200 Gigabytes (GB) whereas now they have reached 2000 GB (often called 2 Terabytes or 2 TB). The best thing that PC users can do for their hard drives is to not shift or bump the PC while it is running (this can cause mechanical failure), not expose the PC to a strong electromagnetic field (magnet or arc welder) and keep the drive defragmented. This last task is often overlooked and can make a huge difference to HDD performance and life expectancy. Newer versions of Windows such as Win 7 automatically defrag the HDD but older versions like Win XP require the owner to initiate this process. Even done once a month HDD defragmentation will help keep your hard drive and therefore you PC running well (just the same as going back through a filing cabinet and resorting files that were initially just thrown in wherever they would fit). Kerr Solutions is at 128 Musgrave Street & is contactable on 49 222 400.