To most users, the Hard Drive is probably the most important component of your computer. Everything you collect and store gets saved to the hard drive. Personal data like documents, pictures, music, and videos – and things like programs, preferences, and even the operating system are all stored on the Hard Drive.
The hard drive keeps a hold of its data even when the computer is shut off, unlike the RAM’s temporary memory that dumps whenever your computer is powered down. This is why we can restart the computer, and still have access to all the data when we turn it back on.
Platters: These shiny little disks are what your data is actually stored on in the form of 1s and 0s.
Spindle: The Platters are stacked on a central axle called the Spindle. Inside the Spindle is the motor that helps the platters spin.
Actuator Arm: Each platter has its own “arm”. Actuator arms move across the platter to help position the Read/Write Head towards the information we are trying to pull up on our screen.
Read/Write Head: The Read/Write heads are like the pens and eyes of your Hard Drive. They read the data already there, or write new data we have downloaded or entered through our mouse and keyboard.
Actuator Axis: Like the Spindle that is used to stack and hold the platters in place, the Actuator Axis does the same for the arms.
Actuator: Positioned inside two powerful magnets; that keep the heads floating mere nano-meters from the platters to prevent them from scratching the platters, is the arm’s motor. This motor secures and controls the continuous movement of the Actuator Arms as they move back and forth across the spinning platters.
So how exactly do all these little parts work together?
On the Platters are sectors located on “tracks”. The magnetic heads move with an actuator arm to read and write data to the drive.
Basically, it works almost like a record player. The Platters spin, just like a record does – only much faster. The Actuator Arm move the Read/Write Heads over the spinning Platter, the same way a record player’s arm moves the needle over a record’s grooves. The Heads Read or Write data on the quickly spinning Platter.
It’s important to remember that with all those moving parts, our hard drive is rather fragile. One accidental drop could misalign an actuator arm, or cause a platter to be damaged by the Read/Write Heads, rendering the hard drive unreadable. Making it super important to treat them with care, and always to have a backup plan.
If you have any questions, are looking for a backup plan, or want to upgrade that old Hard Drive to a Solid-State Drive, give No Ware Computer Repair a call, or come by our office in Grand Junction, we are always happy to help.