Definition of a Hard Drive

May 5, 2020 By [email protected]_84 Off

The computer hard drive, which is simply a component within your system, stores your data for you permanently. When you want to locate a document or look at your pictures, your computer operating system locates them on your hard drive and then displays them on your monitor. A simple definition of a hard drive is a sealed device which has the ability to store digital data on self contained magnetic disks, called platters, which are written to and read by a special head at the end of an arm which operates very similar to a household record player. If you picture in your mind a record player, also called a turn table, it has a needle at the end of an arm that plays the music as the record spins. The part in your fixed disk which reads the data is positioned extremely close to the spinning platter and moves very quickly to different areas of the platter where the data needed at that moment in time is stored.

When you are using a laptop or desktop computer, and you double click on a folder you want to open, the operating system, such as Microsoft Windows XP or Vista, actually tells the fixed disk that it would like to see the contents of the particular folder which you double clicked on. The platter within your system must spin around to where the head is able to retrieve the data which is magnetically stored on the hard drive and then send it to the operating system so that Windows can display the contents of the folder on your computer monitor. Now, this is a very basic definition of a hard drive in action because in reality there are many components involved in this process such as the CPU (Central Processing Unit), RAM (Random Access Memory), the motherboard, etc.

Basically the hard drive stores all of the computers information such as documents, pictures, and movies for example. When the computer itself is powered off, and eventually powered on again, the data on the hard drive remains intact exactly as should be expected. This is called permanent storage. The data will remain intact on the hard drive until the computer user deletes the permanently stored data. Without this important system component there would be no way for us to permanently store large amounts of data.

The hard drive is also often referred to as a fixed disk because once it is mounted inside of a desktop, external enclosure, or a laptop computer, there is no need to remove it. If you think about a CD (Compact Disc) or a DVD (Digital Video Disc), they are each capable of storing digital data but they are obviously not fixed in any fashion. Also, they are dependent on an optical drive in order to have their data be read by a computer. In the case of a laptop computer or an external enclosure, the hard drive is certainly portable, but the disk itself stays securely fixed in the laptop or the enclosure.