Hard Drives: Why They're Important and What You Need To Know

By Linda J
By Linda J
Last Modified May 24, 2019

Data makes the world go round. Everywhere we go we interact with data. Which is why data is so important in living our everyday lives. We store data, we process data, and we exchange data.

Hard Drives are one of the most fundamental forms of data storage and processing. They were first introduced in 1956 by the company, IBM.

From then on, hard drives just kept on evolving. Faster processing. Safer storage. Bigger data capacity. Those are the essential developments in hard drives.

Hard Drive Guide | Types of Hard Drive | TTR Data Recovery

Now, almost everyone has a hard drive, in any form or size. There’s a lot that goes on with using and taking care of your hard drive. And in times of trouble, you can even protect and recover your data in your hard drive.

Hard drives now take different shapes and forms. Some of them are the RAID, VMware, and Flash drive. Though they differ anatomically, they still serve the same purpose. Data processing and storage.

What is a Hard Drive?

A hard drive is basically the computer’s storage. It is responsible for storing all the user’s data for the long term. This is not only limited to things saved but also data needed for your operating system to function properly such as drivers that allow you to connect to the internet and more.

The hard drive is composed of four major components. First are the platters which are disks that store data in an organized fashion. Second would be the spindle, responsible for keeping the platters in position and rotating them when needed.

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Third is the read/write arm which guides the read/write head to the appropriate position based on data that needs to be written/read. Lastly, the actuator which takes instruction from the circuit board to control the movement of the read/write arm as well as supervise the transfer of data from the platters.

A hard drive do fail after many years in service or cause of a virus or other natural phenomenon and that is what we call a hard drive failure.

Here is an indepth artcile about how hard drive work. It tackles mostly everything you need to know about hard drives.

Main Forms of Hard Drives

There are four types of hard drives. One of the earliest hard drives made use of PATA or Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment which refers to the type of interface used to connect the hard drive to the computer. The used 40 or 80 wire ribbon cables and can transfer data in 16 bit pockets simultaneously in parallel.

The system of the PATA will also be the base science for the more modern drives.

All About Solid State Drive
  • Serial ATA
    drives have replaced PATA due to better performance. They transfer data faster (150 up to 300 megabytes per second) opposed to PATA ( 133 megabytes per second), use less power (250mV opposed to 5V) and SATA cables are thinner and more flexible.
  • SCSI or Small Computer System Interface
    allows for the connection of different peripheral devices such as hard drives, printers, scanners, CD-Drives and more. SCSI drives can also be connected internally and externally.
  • SSD or Solid-state Drives
    are the latest in drive technology and do not consist of moving parts. This makes them less susceptible to damage. They make use of flash memory chips instead to store data and provide faster data access. They are very common in laptops nowadays.

SSDs are also used for mobile transfers. This also has general compatibility like the flash drive. An additional wire is used to make it compatible to other devices.

Three types of technology used in hard drives

3 Types Of Tecnology In Hard Drive | TTR Data Recovery
  • Solid-State Drives
    are one of the fastest storage options out there with data transfer speeds ranging up to 550 megabytes per second or higher. The absence of moving parts also allows for more durability and eliminate the possibility of corrupt data or decreased performance due to vibrations or shock. These drives can also allow for access of data in a fraction of a millisecond therefore allowing shorter boot times, application launches and overall a faster system.
  • Magnetic Hard Drives
    make use of of rotating magnetic disks called platters and a mechanical arm that reads and writes data using a magnetization process. Data is stored on circular divisions of the disks called tracks which are divided into sectors that contain the blocks of data. Though they may be slower than the SSD, they are more affordable and have a higher capacity.
  • Hybrid Hard Drives
    are a combination of the previous two making use of platters and flash memory. Hybrid drives store the most frequently accessed data to flash memory which allow faster speeds on these files while the rest is stored in the platter. In terms of price, they are pricier than magnetic hard drives but far cheaper than the SSD.

Redundant Array of Independent Disks

About Raid | TTR Data Recovery
  • RAID or Redundant Array of Independent Disks
    is basically storing of data on multiple hard drives. It is used for data backup in case one hard drive fails or the data is corrupted. It is also used for increased performance and increased storage functions.

Which RAID types would use a minimum of four hard drives

There are multiple RAID levels that are optimized for specific situations. The different RAID levels include RAID level 0 – Striping, RAID level 1 – Mirroring, RAID level 5 – Striping with parity, RAID level 6 – Striping with double parity and RAID level 10 – Combining Striping and mirroring.

Among these, RAID level 6 makes use of at least four hard drives. It stores parity data of one drive in another as well allowing it to withstand even 2 drive failures simultaneously. Parity data allows for restoration of lost data therefore making it the most secure.

Different Hard Drives for different devices

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There are many different hard drives used depending on the device. For example a gaming console such as a standard Playstation 4 hard drive would be a 500GB 5400 RPM SATA II Hard drive while the Playstation 4 PRO originally has a 1TB sized hard drive. Apple’s MAC mostly make use of SSD drives with only a few exceptions.

Computers and laptops can make use of SSD as well as HDD. Laptops nowadays commonly make use of SSD and make up for the lack in capacity using external hard drives. Computers or desktops make use of HDD or Hybrids drives due to the higher capacity and custom desktops make use of multiple hard drives as well.

Operating systems such as LINUX will be able to run either on SSD or HDD depending on the user’s preference although it is possible to split the installation of LINUX to both SSD and HDD to compensate for the limited capacity of an SSD if both are available.

Some desktops have LINUX running alongside Windows in order to maximize the benefits of each operating system.

Hard drives super storage

Hard Drive Super Storage | TTR Data Recovery

There are now multiple removable storage devices available in the market such as a microSD card. A microSD card is a removable flash memory card and it is the smallest memory card that can be bought. It can hold large amounts of data.

These are typically used in cameras. They are also present in handheld gaming devices. Such as the Nintendo switch. This is present in modern cellphones and more. An example of the capacity possible with a microSD card would be Samsung’s EVO Select 512GB microSD card which costs around 99.99$.

Currently, there are more technologies being developed to exceed the MicroSD. We have yet to experience a smaller system that contains more storage. For sure, we are going to see this in the industry very soon.

Hard drive data recovery

Hard Drive Data Recovery Guide | TTR Data Recovery

Should a hard drive fail, it is still possible to salvage one’s data. As long as data has not been corrupted and the hard drive is intact, it is still possible to salvage the data.

It is recommended to pull the hard drive from the computer and avoid further use as this could cause your data to be written over. This is possible with the proper tools.

Next, to plug the hard drive into a working computer and make copies of the files if they are available. It is still recommended to seek professional help should this problem arise.