Small, but mighty powerful
22 September, 2012
Today we are going to look at one aspect of computer hardware – the hard drive. We find that the hard drive is often incorrectly labelled as many people refer to their entire computer tower as the hard drive. In fact the hard drive is just one of the many components inside the typical home computer or laptop. Traditionally it is a small metallic box a little bigger than a cigarette packet (or a little smaller in the case of a laptop hard drive) which is responsible for storing all of your data as well as storing all of the operating system information and program files.
When a computer is turned off the hard drive is the only part of the computer that stores any information. When the computer is running the information on the hard drive can be changed, added or deleted. Inside a hard drive is a system of fast rotating metallic platters and your information is getting stored as tiny little electromagnetic fields on these platters. Unfortunately for all of this to happen the hard drive has a DC servo motor, a bearing group and other seek arms and motors.
Because hard drives need these mechanical systems they can fail with catastrophic results (you can lose all of the information that was previously on the hard drive). It is for this last reason that a regular backup of all of your important data is essential. Hard drives have been getting faster in the way that they create, manipulate or delete their information and they have also increased drastically in the volume of data that they can store. However, with other areas of the computer advancing at a faster rate the hard drive is often one of the main bottlenecks to increasing the speed of modern computers.
The industry is now turning to and will continue to turn to solid state drives (SSD). In effect a solid state drive is like a heap of USB memory sticks strung together to form a very fast storage device which overcomes some of the bottlenecks of traditional hard drives. Again the SSD is a device which resides internally in your PC and is shaped / sized similar to a traditional hard drive. Previously SSD’s have been too expensive for the average computer user and didn’t provide the volume of storage that people required.
These problems have been rapidly changing to the point where we are now offering 120GB SSD’s in standard computers as a no cost option. They have the effect of making a computer/laptop boot up a lot quicker and make its general use a lot snappier. However, if the customer needs to store a heap of photos / music or movies then a traditional hard drive is still the best option due to its larger storage volume. Also keep in mind that in all cases the separate regular backup system is still essential.
Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 07 49 222 400.
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