What is Hard Drive? And its Importance

Technical Description of Hard Drive

Developer Seagate, IBM, Western Digital
Types SATA, USB, eSATA, Firewire, SCSI, ATA
Partition Types MBR, GPT
Bytes per Sector 4K native, Advanced Format or 512E, 512-byte native
Storage Capacity 500 GB, 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, 5TB, 6TB, 10TB
Supported OS Windows, Mac, Linux
Supported File Systems FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, HFS+

What is Hard Drive? – Features, Types & Hard Disk Related Problems

Definition: The hard disk is a type of magnetic storage device that can store data permanently. It is a secondary storage unit that can save everything stored on a user’s machine. This includes images, documents, music, videos, programs, preferences and even the operating system. It is made up of one or more platters on which data is written using a magnetic head. Digital information can be saved on it and retrieved if need be.

More on a Hard Disk Drive

There are different types of hard drive based on where they are being used. The primary drive used for desktop computers that range from 60GB to 4TB space. There is a different one used for laptops which are smaller in size but faster. There are others used in customer electronics and enterprise storage arrays in data centres. External drives can be connected to the main computer with a cable for extra storage space.

Features of a Hard Drive

Here are some of the characteristics of a hard disk drive:

Non-Volatile: This means that the disk drive will retain data even when there is no power. The data is not lost or changed even when the system is shut down. It remains there even when no power is reaching the storage device.

Permanent Storage: Unlike RAM which is a temporary memory, hard disks can save data permanently. There are no changes made to the digital information barring any virus infection or physical damage.

Random Access Storage: There is no sequential order to where the next block of data is placed. It can be anywhere on the plate. The magnetic head moves and locates where the data can be stored or retrieved.

How Hard Disk Works?

An internal hard drive is connected to the motherboard and the power supply unit with a help of cables. The hard drive contains a spinning platter with a thin magnetic coating. It looks like a mirror but has millions of tiny magnets standing on end, arrayed in concentric circles. The polarity of each magnet can be “up” or “down,” which indicates whether the bit is a 1 or a 0. The read/write “head” moves over the platter, flipping polarity when writing or reading data.

Types of Hard Drive

There are generally two types of hard drives:

Hard Disk Drives (HDD) – These use one or more rotating discs and rely on magnetic storage. Any regular desktop computer uses this type of disk drives. Each Windows machine has at least one internal drive that is used for storing operating system files. In Mac, it is just called hard drive. Storage space can be increased by installing additional internal hard drives or connecting external ones.

Solid-State Drives (SSD) – These are run electronically rather than magnetically. They use flash memories found in digital cameras and USB flash drives. They are used in many high-end, expensive laptops.

Some Hard Drive Related Problems

Following are some of the most common problems faced by many users regarding their HDD:

Hard Disk Crash: The monitor screen goes blank due to a recent physical damage to the system. There is a black screen preventing access to all files as the computer won’t start.

Blue Screen: Overusing the computer for long hours may heat up the drive leading a blue screen. In this case, an error message is displayed that the system must restart to continue.

Hissing or Whirring Sounds: There are noises coming from the system indicating that indicate that the hard disk is overheated and needs a reboot.


There are lots of different kinds of storage space available to choose from. One must completely understand what is needed and then invest in a hard disk drive. It can be either internal or an external disk. Based on the storage requirement, the choice of the drive will change. One can read all about it in this post. It discusses what is a hard drive and its types in great detail. There is a lot of useful information written here that can come handy while buying a new hard disk drive.