In your home, there are probably several hard drives–in the computer you’re reading this on, your iPod, your Tivo, and other places you may not even be aware of. The hard drive is an amazing invention that allows for the storage of a practically limitless amount of information, and hard drives are everywhere, yet many people are completely unaware of how they work. Here are a few facts that you may not have known about hard drives, that might actually help you if you ever have a problem with any of the hard drives that you own.
1. When you delete data, it isn’t gone. It simply gets marked by your computer’s operating system for deletion (this process differs depending on whether you’re using a Windows, Mac, or Linux machine). That is, the computer tells the hard drive that the next time data is written, the drive should write the data over the old data. Until this occurs, the data’s still there, and some data recovery companies have even been able to recover data that was overwritten once or twice.
2.The heads of a hard drive operate in extremely close proximity to the platters. And when I say close, I mean close– if the heads of the hard drive were the size of a skyscraper, and the Earth was the platters of a hard drive (bad analogy, I know, but bear with it), the skyscraper would be travel about an inch from the ground to read data. Data is so densely packed onto drive platters that the heads simply have to be this close–and if they’re offset in the wrong direction, even slightly, data becomes completely inaccessible.
3. Any contaminant on the platter of a hard drive will permanently damage it. Hard drives have special filters that prevent dust and other contaminants from infiltrating the area of the drive that contains the platters, since the heads operate so closely to those disks that any contaminant, even a micrometer in size, will break off the heads or cause them to touch down on the platters, scratching them–and removing the magnetic material that they store, which is your data. Hard drives are only worked on in class 100 clean rooms, the same rooms used in hospitals to prevent infection, for this reason.
4. Hard drives have extremely precise electronics. Many manufactures use a process that writes the electronics board (or PCB) of a hard drive slightly differently, enabling the drives to store more data, but preventing two PCBs, even from the same model drive, from being switched. Attempting to do so will cause permanent damage to many drives.
Do you have more hard drive facts to add to this list? Post in our comments section below.