What Is A Hard Disk Drive? Explaining Its Advantages!

Unsure why but Hard Disk Drives (HDD) are among the most under-rated hardware of a PC. You would rarely find a PC expert talking about Hard Disk Drives with excitement. It is as if a Hard Disk Drive is something that doesn’t secure a spot on the list of important PC hardware. While the topic of Hard Disk Drive is a bit dry and boring, it still holds significance certainly if you want to explore the world of PCs.

what is a hard disk drive
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There is no learning about computers without getting a clue about the role of HDDs that are crucial for long-term data retention.

Keep in mind, that the working mechanism of a PC involves an HDD as much as other first-tier components of it. A Hard Disk Drive is a storage-centric machine that favours a computer in a lot of ways.

What Is A Hard Disk Drive?

Often termed Hard Drive or Hard Disk, it is the central data storage facility of a computer used for long-term data use. A Hard Disk Drive possesses volatile nature which makes it immune to the loss of data as a result of power-off. Being the secondary storage, an HDD holds all the computer data including media files, software, applications, and the Operating System.

In other words, whatever type of data you save on a computer is actually handled by an HDD. No Hard Disk means no space to store the data on a computer. This brings us to the fact that a computer can’t run without a functional Hard Disk. In the hierarchy of storage mediums used by computers, a Hard Disk falls into secondary storage whereas a Random Access Memory falls into primary storage.

How Does A Hard Disk Drive Work?

You need no big brain to understand the science behind the way a Hard Disk Drive work. In simple words, a Hard Disk has a magnetically coated platter with a metalloid thing over it called an actuator arm. The platter owns billions of super-small units to save each and every bit of data.

All the data stored by the computer user falls into those billions of data storage units. The actuator arm is the data-detecting tool that stays over the head of the platter. Every time a user requests the HDD to access a specific file, the platter spins and the actuator arm over it starts reading or writing the data.

The History Of The Hard Disk Drives

A lot of people don’t know that IBM has been behind a number of inventions. Yeah, including the ancestor of the modern Hard Disk Drives. IBM’s need for a data storage device in the 1950s led it to come up with the concept of the Hard Disk Drive.

In 1953, the world of technology shook with IBM’s invention that was going to change the future of humanity. That year, IBM introduced the first-ever HDD-backed computer called IBM 305 RAMAC.

The computer was bigger than a standard room today and carried an HDD the size of a cupboard. Yeah, you have just read that. Ready to say wow? The HDD was composed of multiple 24-inch platters that all worked together to keep the device running. Sounds like lots of science and extreme effort mixed together to keep the old HDD operational.

In the 60s, IBM introduced the 1301 Disk Storage Unit that came with a kind of actuator arm over the platter like in most HDDs today. A few more years into it, IBM 1311 invaded the less competitive HDD with 2.5 MB of storage and a removable option which was definitely too new for the users. With no doubt, IBM remained the invincible HDD manufacturer for the next 30 years.

Later in the 70s, IBM released more and more new models of HDDs. Their business went well and the boom of HDDs forced other tech companies to introduce their own versions. In the late 70s, Seagate, which still covers a large share of the HDD market, entered the business. In just a few years, Seagate developed a 5.25-inch drive bay to grab the attention of consumers. Later on, PrairieTek did the same by introducing the first 2.5-inch hard drive in the late 80s.

Notably, HDDs offered a few MBs of space throughout the 70s. However, in 1980, the size of HDDs suddenly expanded to 1GB with IBM’s introduction of the 3380 HDD. It was one-fourth of a ton in weight and did cost thousands of dollars. Because of being out of range, consumers took more than a decade to opt for HDDs carrying GB capacity. It wasn’t until the mid or late-90s that the use of GB-sized HDDs normalized.

The era of general-purpose computers proved to be revolutionary for Hard Disk Drives. Faster and bigger HDDs were produced throughout the early and late 90s. In early 2000, general-purpose computer users started receiving HDDs offering a large capacity of more than 15 GB. In 2003, Seagate turned everything in its favor by inventing the world’s first SATA HDD called Seagate Barracuda SATA V. It should be noted that most of the HDDs used today are based on the SATA system.

In just a couple of years, the storage capacity of Hard Disk Drives crossed 100 GB. Hitachi, which acquired IBM’s division of HDDs in early 2000, introduced the first-ever 500 GB Hard Disk Drive in 2005. This was a landmark achievement in the field of data storage.

Following Hitachi’s success, the trend of super-high-storage HDDs was followed by Seagate and Western Digital which allowed these companies to manufacture their own 1TB HDDs. Today, HDDs come in various storage capacities with 20TB believed to be the extreme.

Advantages of Hard Disk Drives

In the background, there is a cold war between Hard Disk Drives and Solid State Drives (SDD) to lead the data storage market. For years, HDDs have secured the top spot over the SDDs for a number of reasons. The platter-based machines are the favourite of average computer users. This favouritism has come with the positive points that make HDDs the number one choice of most PC users.

Market Availability

Unlike some extremely rare PC hardware that you wouldn’t even find by diving back into time, Hard Disk Drives can be found in almost every other market. From old computer shops to the big tech markets, HDDs can be spotted everywhere. You don’t have to specifically wait for a few days for an HDD to be shipped to your address. I must say, they are in abundance and that too almost in every corner of the world. To me, this is perhaps the only reason HDDs are still ahead of other types of storage devices.

Low Price Tag

Seems like HDDs know that money is the real deal for humans. That’s why they come very cheap. Whether your country is going through a financial crisis or you don’t have a job anymore, buying a Hard Disk Drive is unlikely to put a substantial burden on your bank account. Besides reliability, cheap price tags are what I love about the HDDs.

Bigger Data Storage

HDDs are the best solution to the painful problem of data shortage that bothers us from time to time. We all do want to put as much data into the computer as we can. Whether it’s office-related files, your favorite music videos, or video games, HDD provides enough space to carry all types of media and programs. An HDD is like a thick-walled fortress that carries almost anything and protects it. Just to tell you, I have dub named it ” The Storage Fortress ”.

Lifespan That Really Matters

Living to the fullest as super workaholic machines, HDDs would back your computer for as long as 10+ years. That’s enough to get the cost covered. I mean, what else do you want from the pity Hard Disk Drives? Their career that lasts over a decade is something to think about. In fact, an HDD is the human equivalent of a granny that would not want to die despite living up for a century. Having said all this, if you are intending to buy a Hard Disk Drive, you know you are going to be pain-free for the next decade. Period!

The Leading HDD Manufacturers

Don’t ever get into a product without checking the brand tag. A brand tag not only represents a brand but also speaks up for the excellence its products carry. Take a look at the leading HDD manufacturers that are offering some of the best user-friendly data storage devices.

SeagateEnjoys a range of heavy-purpose HDDs
ToshibaOffers 7200 RPM powered HDDs for high performance
HPDelivers iconic Hard Disk Drives capable of 15000 RPM
Western DigitalThe world’s biggest HDD manufacturer supported by a large consumer-base
MaxtorProvider of high-powered Hard Disk Drives at a reasonable cost
SamsungSouth Korean tech-king that builds 2.5 and 3.5-inch HDDs

Frequently Asked Questions

Wrap Up

I personally believe, the field of data storage is simply non-existent without Hard Disk Drives. These heavy yet a bit slow machines are going to leave a legacy that would be remembered forever. It is absolutely amazing to learn about the big change HDDs brought to general-purpose computers in the last couple of decades.

From being small storage machines to being the hub of storage today, HDDs have gone through a long period of transformation. I bet, from now onwards, you would respect the Hard Disk Drives considering these devices hold pretty much everything we store on a computer.

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Bilal Khan
Bilal Khan

Bilal might look like a Bearded Caucasian right out of a Viking movie but trust me he's a native Pakistani. He has a long list of hobbies among which staying updated on the Latest Technology and Hardware happens to be on the top. If you are looking for detailed hardware explanations through no tricky terminologies, follow him to read Tech Content curated perfectly for the human brain.

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