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Hard drives

A hard disk drive (HDD) is a data storage device used for storing and retrieving digital information using rapidly rotating disks (platters) coated with magnetic material. An HDD retains its data even when powered off. Data is read in a random-access manner, meaning individual blocks of data can be stored or retrieved in any order rather than sequentially. An HDD consists of one or more rigid (“hard”) rapidly rotating disks (platters) with magnetic heads arranged on a moving actuator arm to read and write data to the surfaces. Introduced by IBM in 1956, HDDs became the dominant secondary storage device for general-purpose computers by the early 1960s. Continuously improved, HDDs have maintained this position into the modern era of servers and personal computers. More than 200 companies have produced HDD units, though most current units are manufactured by Seagate, Toshiba and Western Digital. Worldwide disk storage revenues were US $32 billion in 2013, down 3% from 2012. The primary characteristics of an HDD are its capacity and performance. Capacity is specified in unit prefixes corresponding to powers of : a 1-terabyte (TB) drive has a capacity of gigabytes (GB; where 1 gigabyte = bytes). Typically, some of an HDD’s capacity is unavailable to the user because it is used by the file system and the computer operating system, and possibly inbuilt redundancy for error correction and recovery. Performance is specified by the time required to move the heads to a track or cylinder (average access time) plus the time it takes for the desired sector to move under the head (average latency, which is a function of the physical rotational speed in revolutions per minute), and finally the speed at which the data is transmitted (data rate). The two most common form factors for modern HDDs are 3.5-inch, for desktop computers, and 2.5-inch, primarily for laptops. HDDs are connected to systems by standard interface cables such as SATA (Serial ATA), USB or SAS (Serial attached SCSI) cables. , the primary competing technology for secondary storage is flash memory in the form of solid-state drives (SSDs), but HDDs remain the dominant medium for secondary storage due to advantages in price per unit of storage and recording capacity. However, SSDs are replacing HDDs where speed, power consumption and durability are more important considerations.

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