What Is Hard Disk Drive (HDD)?


Hard Drive is a component that is mainly used to store data inside an IT system. From the beginning of the IT systems which roughly starts from the 1950s. During all times these systems are required to save some data permanently into a component which is simply named as Hard Drive. In this tutorial, we will examine different aspects of the definition of Hard Drive.

What Is Hard Disk Drive?

Hard Drive provides some permanent storage for the different IT systems. Hard Drive can be used inside, PC, Workstation, Laptop, Tablet, TV, Server and other systems to store the operating systems, user data, images, files, videos, etc. Hard Disk drives use different technologies like magnetic plates, flash, SSD in order to store data. Hard drives can provide different sizes from 320 GB to 16 TB which is a very large range.

Hard Disk Drive History

The first Hard Drive is created in 1957 by IBM which is named 350 Disk Storage. It is created for the system named IBM 305 RAMAC. And the most interesting part is this hard drive storage size was 3.75 MB (MegaByte) which is less than a single HD photo. But its size was about two medium-sized refrigerators.

The second-generation hard drives are created by IBM too. Because in those days computers were only used by governments, big companies but not end-users or SMBs. In 1962 IBM created the 1301 Disk Storage Unit which physical size was about 3 midsize refrigerator.

How Hard Disk Drive Works?

Hard Drives have different types and technologies in order to read and write data into the storage medium. But in general, there are two types those are magnetic disk and flash.

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Hard Drive or Hard Disk or Hard Disk Drive

Hard Disk Drives has multiple names that are used interchangeably. Even these names define some differences all of them are used interchangeably without a problem. Hard Drive is the older version where Hard Disk is a more modern term. Hard Disk Drive is the most complete and popular term. Hard Disk Drive is also called as HDD in short form.

Hard Disk Drive Components

A hard drive consists of different components. SSD drives provide different components where HDD provides different components because of its working mechanisms.

  • Actuator used to change and move Read/Write Actuator Arm.
  • Read/Write Actuator Arm will change the position of the read/write head in order to read different tracks of the platter.
  • Read/Write Head will read the data from the platter with the help of the Actuator and Read/Write Actuator Arm.
  • Spindle will spin the Platter in order to Read/Write head track the sectors.
  • Platter holds the data inside the tracks in a magnetic way.
  • Chasis  holds and protects all components properly in a secure way.

Hard Drive Form Factors

Hard Drives can be in different form factors according to the usage and the system it will be used. Also before the modern days, the systems were custom made and the size of the hard drives was very different and not standardized. But in general following, Hard Drive Form Factors are popular in modern systems.

  • 2.5 Inch hard drives are popular in mobile, portable systems that require less space and power. They also generally have less performance which is generally not expected in these systems.
  • 3.5 Inch hard drives are a bit bigger than 2.5 inch hard drives. These hard drives provide better performance in general and mainly used in workstations, PCs, and servers. But in recent years they lose their position to the 2.5 inch hard drives because of the advancement of the hard drive technology.
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Hard Drive Form Factors
Hard Drive Form Factors

We can see in the image above the comparison of the 2.5 and 3.5 hard drives in physical size.

Hard Disk Drive Performance

Hard Disk Drives can have different performances for different use cases like reading, write, sequential read, sequential write, random read, random write, etc. Hard disk drives provide higher performance by using different caching mechanisms and buffers.

Hard Disk Drive Sizes

Hard Disk Drives can provide different sizes according to the form factor, performance and price. But in general, the hard disk drive sizes start from 320 GB to the 16TB. But in general, the HDD sizes 500 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB are popular among the IT world.

Hard Drive Connection Types

Hard Disk Drives can be connected to different systems in different ways. But there are some popular Hard Disk Drive connection types or protocols which are support most of the modern systems.

  • SATA or SATA2 or SATA3 in general SATA connection is the most popular connection type for Hard Disk Drives which is specifically designed for Hard Disk Drives.
  • IDE is the older connection type that was popular in the 1990s and early 2000s. It has vanished with the popularity of the SATA
  • SCSI  is an old connection type which is improved regularly with new versions. SCSI is mainly used for workstation and server connection.

Is SSD Hard Drive?

Solid State Drives (SSD) is a new type of hard drive where flash technology is used to store, read and write data. Even its name is different from Hard Disk Drive or HDD it provides the same functionality of the HDD. What makes is better than an HDD is SSD provides a lot better read and write speeds. So we can call the SSD as Hard Drive because it is the exact and complete replacement for the classical HDD.

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