What Is a Hard Drive and How Does It Work?

According to one study, about 65% of people lose data on their computers at some point in their life.
But what is one of the main reasons that people lose their data? One common problem is when people’s hard drives start malfunctioning and erase all their files. 
But what is a hard drive? And how does it work? We have all of the answers here for you, so keep reading!

What is It?

When you ask, “What is a hard drive,” you’ll get an answer explaining that a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) is the storage that is normally the main place for your laptop or desktop to store information. It stores all kinds of information like your videos, programs, apps, app preferences, operating systems, documents, music, pictures, and so much more.

It works like any other type of digital storage, and it writes the data on the drive and then recalls it later when you need it. However, in order to do this, the hard drive needs a source of power in order to do that.

Since they were invented, computer hard drives have come a long way, and now they offer a lot of storage capacity. They’re also cheaper now, especially after SDDs have become popular. Regardless of that, hard drives are still the easiest and basic way to store information on your computer.

A manufacturer can build a hard drive into your computer, meaning that it’s internal. However, it can also be external, which is great for giving you the extra storage that your computer doesn’t come with.

Space on Hard Drive

On a hard drive, everything is measured by file sizes. For example, a hard drive will determine how large a file is. It could be a megabyte, gigabyte, or a terabyte in size, and this will take up that allotted amount on your hard drive.

When buying a computer, you should look to see how much space is offered on the hard drive. You’ll need to figure out how much you need so that you don’t buy a computer and immediately run out of space.
For most users, you’ll be okay with having between 250 to 320 GBs of hard drive storage. With 250GB, you’d be able to hold about 30,000 photos. 
However, if you’re going to be storing movies on there, you might want to get something that’s a little bit bigger as movies take up more storage size. In that case, you’ll probably want to get something between 500GB and 1TB. 


Since the hard drive is just storing information on your computer, you might not think that the spin speed is important for the hard drive, but it is. The spin speed is the rotations per minute, and it determines how fast or slow your computer will run or start up. If your computer is running slow, you might want to check out these shopping deals and get a faster hard drive.

If the disk in your hard drive spins faster, that means it will be faster when you’re trying to retrieve the file that you want.

On most hard drives, the average spin is about 5,400 rpm to 7,200 rpm. This should be fast enough for most files, and you won’t notice that much of a slower speed when opening a small file like a photo. However, if you’re trying to open a larger one like a movie, you might notice a difference.

Some computers even come with hard drives that have a spin of 15,000 rpm, which is good if you’re going to be running large applications on your computer like a game or video-editing software.

When you go and search for a laptop to buy, make sure you ask about this. Most customers aren’t aware of it, and only the storage size is advertised or cared about.

How it Works

Now that you know about the spin speed, you should understand how the hard drive itself works.
There is a large circle “plate” in your hard drive that’s made of magnetic material and called a platter. On the platter, there are thousands of tiny little areas and sections. Each one can be separately magnetized to be a 1 in binary code. If it’s demagnetized, it reads as a 0.

Many manufacturers use magnetism because this will make sure that the computer still saves your data even when the computer is off. This kind of technology is also used on your phone, iPod, or tablet.

The platter is the most important part of the hard drive, and if it gets damaged, you could end up losing a lot of your files and information. The platters are normally made of aluminum, ceramic, or glass, so they’re normally sturdy. To make it magnetized, they coat it with a magnetic film.

If the drive is larger, there could be more than one platter. It will be stacked on top of other platters on a central spindle, but there will be a tiny gap between them. They will all rotate, and read-write heads will be able to read them and make changes to the files on your desktop.

There will be two of those heads for each platter. One of them reads the top surface of the platter, and the other one reads the bottom. For example, if a hard drive has six platters, there will be twelve heads in total.

Parts in a Hard Drive
Aside from the platter, there are plenty of other moving parts that make sure that the hard drive is working.
The central spindle will hold multiple platters, and it will help the hard drive platters spin quickly so your computer isn’t slow. 

There are also small spindles around the platters that will help the read-write arms to navigate the platter and move around them. In order to move the read-write arms, there are small spindles that help out.
To get the data from the platter to the computer, there is a circuit boat at the bottom of the hard drive that helps to regulate the transmission of data on your computer.
While hard drives can come in all sizes, these are the main components of any hard drive, whether it’s external or internal. 

External Hard Drives

Speaking of, there are two different types of hard drives: an internal and external hard drive.
An external hard drive is something you can plug into your computer to give your computer access to more of your files and storage. This is an easy and cheap way to get more storage for your computer, although you will need to plug it in each time you want to access your information.
Even if you have enough room on your internal hard drive, you might want to get an external hard drive as a backup. Hard drives can end malfunctioning as time goes on, and it never hurts to have a backup of your favorite memories and photos. 

One of the main signs that your internal or external hard drive is malfunctioning is that you’ll hear a clicking sound. To really determine if you have a problem, you’d have to open up your PC yourself or take it into an expert.

External hard drives are also very portable, so you can also plug it into other devices without having to use some file-sharing system to get it on the other computer. Because of this, it makes it easier to share large files like movies or other videos.

Hard Drive vs. SSD

One of the newest technologies for storage systems is an SSD.
An SSD does the same thing as a hard drive; it stores your data on the computer. However, instead of storing the files on magnetized platters, it’s stored in memory chips that are all connected.
No powers flow through them, but they’re a little bit different than USB drives. They’re also more reliable as well. While they can still break down, they have a longer lifespan than hard drives can have. 
However, if you’re on a budget and need more space, you’ll be able to get more storage for less money with a hard drive.

Learn More About: What is a Hard Drive?

These are only a few things to know when you wonder, “What is a hard drive?” You probably won’t realize how important your hard drive is to your computer until it stops working.
We know that keeping up with all the latest technology with hard drives or SSDs can be overwhelming, but thankfully, we have it all covered for you. We keep track of it all so you don’t have to.
If you enjoyed this article, make sure that you explore our website to find more articles just like this one!


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