Friday, June 3, 2011

Hard Disk Drives

I like to buy external hard disk drives like I do nail polish: I just like to pick one up when I’m walking around Target aimlessly.  I’ll remind myself that I haven’t bought any for several months, and heck, I’ve been good, and I deserve it. However, unlike the nail polishes, where I find them underneath Wii games and magazines, I never forget to use my external hard drive. Like I mentioned in previous entries, a fear of losing my awesome music collection can keep me up at night, so I back up again and again, on different hard disk drives (HDD) besides the one inside my computer.

A hard disk drive is either an internal or external computer component that holds data (Wikipedia, 2011).A hard drive on a personal computer is the opposite of cloud computing: as data is on one computer, and if the disk drive fails, then that data is gone for good. Hence, create backups! Since the HDD is a fragile piece of equipment with moving parts inside of it, it is best for a desktop. It can be used in laptops, but it is not recommended since laptops can be dropped and knocked around easily. (Trust me on this- I don’t know how my laptop survived ten years with me)

The reason that HDD are so delicate is that the components inside them are sensitive. If a hard drive is opened (which shouldn’t be done unless it is defective) it looks like a little record player with several parts:

Platters- The discs inside the HDD. Each side of the platter is called a head (Torres, 2005).

Tracks- These are like grooves on a record - circular paths written on either side of the platter (Torres, 2005).

Sectors- Smaller portions of a track, which contain 512 bytes of data (Torres, 2005).

Cylinders- The number of tracks on each side of the platter. These cylinders run straight down the set of platters, so that it forms a cylinder. (Partition Manager Software, 2011)

When buying a new hard drive to be used, especially the main internal hard drive where main data storage will be, it’s important to partition and format the hard drive.

Partitioning is done first- its separating the hard drive into different section so there can be more than one operating system on it. (Tip: If installing both a Microsoft O/S and a Linux O/S on the same drive, install Microsoft first).  Partitions are considered logical drives, and they are listed on computers by a letter.  On a Windows based system, the main logical drive is the C drive (Docter, Dulaney, & Skandier, 2007)

Partitioning assigns placement on a hard drive; formatting allows the partition to store data in a certain way.  Older (like, DOS old) formatting versions for Windows based system are FAT16 and FAT32.  Formatting should be done with the newest format version, NTFS.  All versions allow for a file allocation table and a root directory. When saving files, this is where they are saved as its name, followed by a period and the extension (ex: name.docx).  NTFS is backwards compatible with the FAT systems, but expands on it by allowing files to be compressed and file level encryption, among other features. (Docter, Dulaney, & Skandier, 2007)

Next time I’ll talk about the hot new internal storage device thats all up in the news: the solid state hard drive.

Docter, Q., Dulaney, E., & Skandier, T. (2007). CompTia A+ Complete. Indianapolis, Indiana: Wiley Publishing, Inc .
Partition Manager Software. (2011). What is disk formatting? Retrieved June 3, 2011, from Partition Manager Software:
Torres, G. (2005, August 4). Anatomy of a Hard Disk Drive. Retrieved June 3, 2011, from Hardware Secrets:
Wikipedia. (2011, June 2). Hard Disk Drive. Retrieved June 3, 2011, from Wikipedia:


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