What is hard disk drive (A Detailed Guide)

The most common storage drive that is used around the world is a hard disk drive which is typically used to store a large amount of data. This device is used both inside and outside as internal hard drive or external hard drive and right the largest data storage hardware available.

What is hard disk drive

what is hard disk drive

As Windows is Microsoft product so by default the hard drive is referred to as “C drive” which is taken as a primary partition on the primary hard drive in your PC.

This term has no technical meaning but has become common. For example, you will see in some computers where various hard drives are represented with multiple drive letters (e.g, C, D, and E) on a computer. The common term HDD is used to refer hard disk drive, sometimes hard disk, hard drive, fixed drive, fixed disk, and fixed disk drive.

Popular Hard Disk Drive Manufacturers

Typically hard drives are heavier but not bigger than the size of a paperback book. There are pre-drilled, threaded holes on the sides of a drive for easy mounting in the 3.5-inch drive bay in the computer case. For 5.25-inch drive bay, you can use an adapter for mounting. The hard drive is mounted in a way that its connections face inside the computer.

To connect the hard disk with motherboard there’s a port for a cable and you depending on the hard drive type you can connect SATA or PATA cables but they come with the hard drive. Similarly, a power supply connections exist besides these ports.

Motherboard recognizes the drive with the jumper settings of the drive when there are multiple hard drives in the computer. The settings are different according to their manufacturer.

How a Hard Drive Works

The hard drive is non-volatile memory, means it can hold it’s date in the absence of power while RAM (Non-volatile) memory doesn’t. That said, you can still access the data if you restart a computer, which powers down the HDD and allows you to access everything inside the drive.

Unlike memory chips in SSD, hard drive has rotating platters and each platter has several tracks and every track has several sectors. These platters with magnetic heads that move with an actuator arm to read and write data to the drive.

Kinds of Hard Drives

There is a different kind of hard drive and there are different ways to connect the drive to a computer except for SATA and PATA. Similarly, there are different sizes of hard drives, varying from small to large.

For example, the most common flash drive has a hard drive, but there are no spinning disks in it like a traditional HDD. However, flash drives have solid-state drives built-in and a USB connection is used to connect them with the computer.

Similarly, external hard drives are used with a USB connection, which is the same hard disk drive but safely inserted in a case to exist outside the computer case. They usually interface with the computer through FireWire or USB, or eSATA.

An external enclosure is a housing for an internal hard drive. That way, you can convert an internal hard drive into an external hard drive. They, too, use USB, FireWire, and so forth.

Capacity of HDD

The most important factor in a hard disk drive is the capacity of the drive allowing you to buy a drive specifically for laptop or phone. Drive with smaller storage capacity will be filled with files faster, however, drives with bigger storage capacity can store lots and lots of files.

It’s totally up to you what storage capacity suits you while choosing a hard drive. For example, a hard drive for a tablet can retain lots of videos, if you have 64GB drive rather than 8GB drive.

Similarly, for computer, a hard drive which can hold lots of HD videos or pictures is required, it depends if your files are backed up online. An offline storage drive either internal or external can support up to 4TB versus a 500 GB one. You can learn more about the Storage capacities like Terabytes, Gigabytes, & Petabytes if you want to.

Common Hard Disk Drive Tasks

You can do different things with a hard drive and one of them is that you can change the drive letter. You can decide different letters for each drive. For example, the main hard drive “C” cannot be changed, but you can change letters of an external hard drive from “P” to “L” (or any other acceptable letter).

Next, you can check how much free space is left on the drive. It’s important if you want to maintain a smooth system but most importantly if you are getting low disk space messages. As a solution, you have to uninstall unnecessary programs, which are too large, and delete files, or you can move them on other partitions.

Furthermore, you cannot use the drive until you format the hard drive and after that, you need to make partitions so define sections on the drive to use them according to your needs after this you can install operating system or store files.

Upon installing the OS for the first time is usually when a new hard drive is formatted and given a file system. But the drive can be manipulated using a disk partition tool.

In case of the fragmented hard drive, there are a lot of free defrag tools available to reduce the fragmentation. In most cases, your computer will run faster after defragging the hard disk drive.

As all the data in a computer resides in hard drive, It’s a common task to want to securely erase the data from the drive, like we doe before installing new OS or selling the hardware. This mostly happens in data destruction program.

Hard Disk Drive Troubleshooting

The hard drive is constantly being used in the computer and it involves reading or writing data to the disk. It’s normal, then to eventually run into a problem with the device.

The common issue with a hard drive is noise, and to troubleshoot any kind of malfunction you need to run a driving test.

You can also identify the problems in Windows using the built-in tool called chkdsk to identify different hard drive errors. You also have the option to run the graphical version to get the better view of everything.

Similarly, you can use a number of free programs for issues that might ultimately lead to you needing to replace the drive. Some of these tools also let you know about the seek time.

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