A hard disk drive (sometimes abbreviated as a hard drive, HD, or HDD) is a non-volatile data storage device. It is usually installed internally in a computer, attached directly to the disk controller of the computer’s mother board. It contains one or more platters, housed inside of an air-sealed casing. Data is written to the platters using a magnetic head, which moves rapidly over them as they spin.
Internal hard disks reside in a drive bay, connected to the motherboard using an ATA, SCSI, or SATA cable. They are powered by a connection to the computer’s PSU (power supply unit).
Examples of data stored on a computer’s hard drive include the operating system installed software, and the user’s personal files.
Hard Drive Types
Currently, we can group hard drives into four types:
- Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment (PATA)
- Serial ATA (SATA)
- Small Computer System Interface (SCSI)
- Solid State Drives (SSD)
Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment
These were the first types of hard disk drives and they made use of the Parallel ATA interface standard to connect to computers. These types of drives are the ones we refer to as Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) and Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics (EIDE) drives.
These PATA drives were introduced by Western Digital back in 1986. They provided a common drive interface technology for connecting hard drives and other devices to computers. Data transfer rate can go up to 133MB/s and a maximum of 2 devices can be connected to a drive channel. Most of the motherboards have a provision of two channels, thus a total of 4 EIDE devices can be connected internally.
They make use of a 40 or 80 wire ribbon cable transferring multiple bits of data simultaneously in parallel. These drives store data by the use of magnetism. The internal structure is made of mechanical moving parts. They have been superseded by serial ATA.
An EIDE Hard Disk Drive
Serial ATA Storage Drives
These hard drives have replaced the PATA drives in desktop and laptop computers. The main physical difference between the two is the interface, although their method of connecting to a computer is the same. Here are some advantages of SATA Hard Disk Drives. Worth noting is that their capacities vary a lot and so does the prices. When buying a disk drive, you need to know its storage capacity and how much storage you want.
- SATA drives can transfer data faster than PATA types by using serial signaling technology.
- SATA cables are thinner and more flexible than PATA cables.
- They have a 7-pin data connection, with cable limit of 1 meter.
- Disks do not share bandwidth because there is only one disk drive allowed per SATA controller chip on the computer motherboard.
- They consume less power. They only require 250 mV as opposed to 5V for PATA.
Interface of SATA Drive
Small Computer System Interface
These are quite similar to IDE hard drives but they make use of the Small Computer System Interface to connect to the computer SCSI drives can be connected internally or externally. Devices that are connected in a SCSI have to be terminated at the end. Here are some of their advantages.
- They are faster.
- They are very reliable.
- Good for 24/7 operations.
- Have a better scalability and flexibility in arrays.
- Well-adapted for storing and moving large amounts of data.
Solid State Drives
These are the latest in drive technology that we have in the computer industry. They are totally different from the other drives in that they do not consist of moving parts. They also do not store data using magnetism. Instead, they make use of flash memory technology. They make use of integrated circuits or semiconductor devices to store data permanently, at least until they are erased. Here are some of their advantages.
- Faster data access.
- Less susceptible to shock.
- Lower access times and latency.
- Less power usage.
A Solid State Drive (SSD)
FUNCTIONS OF HARD DISK
The main function of a Hard Disk is to store computer data forever. Therefore it is also called Permanent Storage. This data can be of many types, such as your personal files, documents, software, operating system etc. How much data can be stored in these hard disks, depends on the storage capacity of the Hard Disk.
The Specific Causes Of Hard Drive Failure
Hard disk drives (or HDD) are mechanical. Most are based on a “spindle and platter” system that works much in the way a record player does. The arm reads the data on the platter, and your system uses it for pretty much everything on your computer.
The second type of hard drive, and one that has become extremely popular, is the Solid State Drive or SSD. This type of hard disk uses an electrical cell grid to write data directly to a memory module, exactly like the RAM in your system. These drives read and write data extremely quickly and are a key reason why today’s computers are so fast.
Now, the key cause of failure for either an HDD or an SSD is one thing: mechanical failure.
For HDD drives, this means the spindle and platter system may be wearing out or losing precision due to age or heavy use.
For SSD drives, the “blocks” to which data is written do wear out. They can only be written too a certain number of times, and then, without warning, your drive is dead.
Some other key causes include:
- Excessive heat – Either form of drive will fail if used continually in a very hot environment or improperly cooled computer system
- Water Damage – These are electronics, and one of life’s harshest equations is Water+Electronics=Damage.
- Static Electricity – A dry environment can make for high amounts of static electricity.
- Lightning or power surges – A mass shock to your computer system can quickly spell the end of a hard drive.
- High Magnetic Fields – Magnets and hard drives of any kind are a bad mix.
- Impact – The parts inside a hard drive are very sensitive. Dropping a drive or laptop can cause immediate hard drive failure
Warning Signs That Suggest Failure Is Imminent
If you haven’t had the opportunity to check your SMART settings (see above), but suspect that your hard drive may be failing, you may consider the following issues as warnings that a hard drive crash is on its way:
- Computer Crashes Or Blue Screen Of Death – A classic Windows scenario that is all but licked with the newer versions starting at Windows 7 and extending to 8 and now 10. This is why if you do experience a crash, it may be a big deal. Backup that drive!
- Error Messages While Copying Or Moving Files – Believe us, this is not something that happens unless there are disk problems at hand. At the very least, it might be a good time to do a SMART test or do a disk check by going into Explorer, right clicking on the problematic drive, clicking the Tools tab and clicking the “Check” button.
- Losing Files Without Notice – This can sometimes mean that your drive is having issues. A disk check again may help.
- File Access Takes A Long Time – Today’s hard drives are fast. If your system was made in the past 10 years, you shouldn’t be waiting long periods of time for your file access.
- Noise – Most recently manufactured hard drives are whisper quiet. Any noise at all, particularly a clicking hard drive noise, can mean the drive may be on its last legs. Do your best to backup whatever you can, or shut down the system and call an expert (our number is above
Follow These 10 Tips to Maintain Hard Drive Or Hard disk
Install Software That Applies Only to Business Operations
IT departments often block everyone from downloading software programs for a reason. Downloading software programs from the Internet without scanning them for viruses is a dangerous practice, and it can cripple a business in minutes.
Whether you’re in the office or using your personal computer, be sure to use a reputable anti-virus program and firewall to manage incoming traffic and access to the PC. It’s a good rule of thumb to only install trustworthy programs that will help business operations.
Everything else should go onto a miscellaneous computer used for testing programs. By isolating new programs on a computer off the main network, you will protect the company while still allowing your employees to test programs that may benefit the company down the road.
Think Twice Before Downloading And Installing Softwares From Unknown Sources
Computers may start acting funny after installing a computer program downloaded from the Internet. Each software installation requires hard drive space, or may contain a virus or malware.
The more programs you install, the less space the computer has. Although your computer uses memory to run programs, it also uses the hard drive to help decrease the load times. If your hard drive is full, it will definitely slow down the computer.
Update the Operating System
By updating your operating system, you are ensuring that you have critical updates to make your system run better, and eliminate issues that could ultimately cause har drive failure. Most businesses use Microsoft Windows as their primary operating system.
Microsoft Windows allows users to update the operating system on a regular basis by accessing the “Windows Update” on their computer, and in most cases this can be updated automatically.
Remove Unnecessary Programs
Delete unwanted programs every few months as the unused and unnecessary programs waste valuable hard drive space. If the business does not plan to use them, then remove them using the “Add/Remove” feature in the Control Panel of the operating system. Removing unnecessary programs also makes your desktop easier to navigate.
Defragment the Hard Drive
The hard drive works hard to keep the computer functional. In fact, it’s the hardest-working component. It’s very difficult to access stored files if the hard drive crashes and usually impossible, depending on the situation. Unfortunately, the hard drive does not save files in any particular order.
It uses the first empty space available, which includes the space created after deleting files. This scatters data across the hard drive, making it harder to access stored data and slowing the computer down considerably.
As a result, it becomes necessary to defragment the hard drive on a regular basis to keep the computer running as quickly as possible. Businesses should defragment all computer hard drives on a weekly basis.
Clean in and Around the Physical Machine always.
Computer hardware needs two things to ensure that it lasts longer than its expected lifetime: airflow to prevent overheating, and to have it’s components free of dust and debris. It’s important to make sure your computer is cleaned on a regular basis to keep it working properly.
Businesses who stack piles of paper in front of their air vents or place the computer under their desk will eventually cause the hard drive to over heat. Ensure that the computer runs properly by uncovering the air vents.
In addition, if your computer is filled with dust that’s choking off the fans or mechanisms, it’s going to overheat, and components are going to fail. Be sure to clean on and around your computer, and use compressed air to keep dust and other debris from causing a problem.
Maintain Computer Security
When it comes to computers of any kind, you need to prepare for the worst, especially for a business. Use a solid back up plan to secure important data.
Many businesses can make copies and transfer important data to a central server or external hard drive or create backups using a cloud service. The sky’s the limit when it comes to security.
Keep Static at Bay
Static electricity will wreak havoc on computer components. To a computer, it’s like a lightning strike. This is especially true during the winter months or in geographical regions with drier air. If even the slightest touch to metal around you produces a “shock,” then it’s best to avoid handling computer components altogether.
This also applies for other surfaces that produce static electricity, including televisions, stereo speakers, and other household appliances. Static electricity can be a killer for your computer. Be sure to touch something that’s metal before you touch your computer just in case.
Utilize Power Save and Sleep Modes
Businesses should configure their operating systems to power off after a specific amount of time or a period of inactivity. The less time your hard drive is running, the longer it will last over the lifetime of the drive
Adding a minute or two here or there will prolong the life of the hard drive significantly. Using Sleep mode makes it easier to return back to work without having to reboot the computer. It also prolongs the life of the hard drive.
Don’t Wait, Have a Backup Plan Implemented, and Use It!
Having a backup of your data is essential, and we can help you through the process. We can also assist with har drive destruction and hard drive recovery If you don’t have something for your business but are looking for a solution, we have professionals that can guide you to the service that might work best for you or your business.
Please drop your comment.