What is a Hard Drive?

A Hard Disk Drive is one of the main storage types that store data permanently. It is also entitled to non-volatile memory, the memory which does not evaporate when an operating machine is denied a power supply. Let us individually highlight different peculiar aspects of our topic; what is hard disk drive which will clear all the ambiguities and make your purchasing decision more responsible and rational? Whatever activities a user performs on a computer, a hard disk drive stores all the corresponding information, helps other components reach it, and presents it on the display screen.

For example, the operating system of your device, music, videos, files, programs, documents, pictures, and applications are the permanent property of a hard drive whether you ensure an electric supply or not. Now some conversation about its installation and functioning method can provide more grip on hard drive features. Usually, the chip is inhabited in internal slots in the motherboard. A device that stocks data for all time is not just the necessity of a desktop computer; instead, other electronic machines, which work with data management, require a hard drive.

The way it functions is thoroughly dependent on physically performing small elements. Patterns inside the air-sealed shell of a hard drive serve the duty of reading and writing data. They may be one or more in numbers and rotate to report data using a magnetic field. When the drive is housed inside the motherboard, it needs to build a connection with other PC elements like the power supplying unit and the motherboard itself. For this purpose, situate the HDD in its drive bay, and use an ATA or SATA cable to couple it with the motherboard. Another connection with the PSU helps power up the drive and become operational.

Why does a computer need a hard drive?

The essential function of a hard drive is to serve as the storage medium where a computer deposits all files and working programs. To explain this, let us explore how a desktop computer uses a storage disk which will clarify our need and dependence on this gadget. The internal operating hardware tool in every computer is known as an Operating system. This system acts as the interface through which we interact with our device, order it by different commands and get our results performed and broadcasted on the screen. This interface receives input instructions from mouse and keyboard clicks and completes the order assigned to it.

As explained above, an operating system handles the entire internal setup, and to hang on to this data; it needs a storage card. Moreover, if you have some additional data like programs, video games, or any advanced tools, a storage chip stocks them all by its permanent data preserving capacity. All the stuff you download online or transfer to the system using a USB flash drive goes straight to the hard disk drive and stays there until deleted, uninstalled, or replaced. That is why one must arm a system with an extensive data storing gadget.

Can a computer work without a hard drive?

Many improved versions of storage drives have surged in the market, like the solid-state drives, read-only memory, and ROM, yet all available operating systems, whether a computer or a laptop, are seen equipped with conventional hard disk drives. This storage hardware is employed as the central storage unit despite some drawbacks. An HDD is undoubtedly critical to a computer’s structural and operational integrity, but it does not restrict the system from providing its services without relying on storage hardware. Although a memory chip is irreplaceable for achieving reliable and speedy processing, a hard disk drive is not.

On one end, we are stressing the fundamental importance of a hard disk drive in giving place to the operating system, which acts as the functional machinery in a computer. On the other hand, we are convinced that a computer deprived of a hard drive can still proceed with its functions. This replacement is possible if you have a CD, DVD, or USB drive. The system asks for a boot device whenever we try to proceed without a hard disk drive. The best tool to boot the computer over any network includes a USB pin, CDs, or DVDs.

Hard drives in modern computers

A competitor to the traditional storage unit, the Solid-State drive is frequently used in modern computers to replace hard drives. This tool performs as the frontline worker to stock data and overcomes the limitations of an HDD. The substantial scope and potential of an HDD to retain data helps it excel from an SSD unit. However, it falls back when read and write speeds are compared and lets the SSDs win the game. Unlike hard disk drives, SSDs do not rely on rotating elements and thus require less time for sequencing, accessing, and returning data from the storage.

A little wise manipulation can help you get massive benefits. You need to go traditionally and use the hard drive as a primary data storing the instrument. For this, install an HDD unit as the secondary drive and SSD as the primary drive. An SSD would retain your operating programs, software, and OS as a primary tool. On the other hand, an HDD would keep videos, pictures, files, documents, downloaded stuff, and many more as the secondary drive.

Some users might confuse computer terminologies like what is hard disk drive and other internal components. We consider it critical to mention the differences among these units. SSDs and HDDs are known for their non-volatile role in retaining data for extended periods until you remove it yourself. On the other end lies RAM, with its volatile nature, stocking data until the power resources flow. Otherwise, you should not expect this short-term memory module to perform any activity. So each gadget is peculiar in its performance, and no one can deliver the task of others.

Hard drive components

The structural appearance of a hard disk drive resembles most of a play recorder, and so do the components. The actuator, arm, spindle, and head slide over a platter on the front. While spinning over the platter, the actuator head reads and writes data. On the back side is the crucial element that helps the drive communicate with the rest of the computer world. This element is known as a circuit board or a disk controller. We see all the parts of an HDD involve physical movement, making it more prone to mishaps and physical damage.

How is a hard drive connected to a computer?

A motherboard provides room for all PC parts, including an HDD chip. An HDD makes its way into a computer by populating one of the slots in the motherboard and using SATA or IDE data cable. Another necessary connection must be fixed using a power cable with the power supplying unit.

Where is the hard drive found in a computer?

Want to locate any PC components? Give it a try on your computer case. Like the majority of hardware elements, a hard drive is also conceived to be placed inside the PC case and uses ATA or SATA cable to create a bond with the motherboard. However, some desktop computers have advanced drives which do not require a wired bond. They use PCI Express or other interfaces to create a direct link with the motherboard. After securing an unmarked connection with the motherboard, the device is supplemented with the power supplying unit by strapping a power cable.

What is stored on a hard drive?

Let us be precise: hard drive stores all data you have on a personal computer, whether it be music files, personal documents, movies, videos, programs, professional tools and software, pictures, or the content you download or create yourself. The frontline working interface of a computer, the operating system, is also possessed and retained by the hard disk drive. Therefore, these gadgets must have tremendous potential to hold on to all the stuff and be open to new storage opportunities.

What are the sizes of hard drives?

Though one can not disregard the fact that a hard drive stores a larger share of data than any other storage gadget, we can not limit its size based on type and age. However, while exploring the physical measures, two distinct defining values are observed, one with 3.5 inches, suitable for PCs. Other comes in 2.5 inches size, most apt for laptops. Pioneer hard drives had only storage capacity up to several megabytes (MB), but rapid advances occurring every year revolutionized the HDDs and transformed their features, extending their ability up to several hundred gigabytes (GB) and terabytes (TB). Terabytes storage sizes are considered the ideal pick-up for passionate gamers and content creators.

How is data read and stored on a hard drive?

The data reading and retrieving mechanism is addressed through a backend component of a hard drive, the disk controller. This controller works as a task manager and interprets all the data sent to the HDD. It directs the disk components to perform a specific task by following a particular movement. When a piece of information is required to be stored on an HDD, the operating system of that device keenly explores the File Allocation Table of a hard disk drive. This table helps the OS find the available areas to write the information and locate relevant files.

Once the area is decided, the disk controller acts and orders the actuator, arm, and head to properly align movements for reading and writing data. The information is usually present on the platter spread over the surface. The aligned spinning of the head and arm helps them locate files from random places on the platter. All the tasks an HDD performs are achieved through magnetic polarities, which usually help the elements read data while switching between two poles. These magnetic poles are classified as binary digits 1 and 0, which allow the tool to read and write data.

External and internal hard drives

Most commonly, desktop computers have internal hard drives to save data. But if one wants to expand the storage size of a PC, stand-alone devices are an easy and highly portable means. These are classified as external hard disk drives, often kept protected in a covering. You can amplify the storage potential of a PC using an external drive of any size you consider helpful for the system. It connects to a computer using a USB or FireWire connection with the motherboard. Do not limit its versatile use to a single computer; you can save data files from multiple devices.

HDD being replaced by SSD

Variation is crucial for existence, and this is the deal with computer technology that continuously compels it to welcome innovations and minor changes. You might call it the necessity of time or the limitations of an HDD that has swiped the trend towards Solid-State drives. SSDs carry distinct advantages over the HDDs like better performance, lower latency, and fast access times. Manufacturers use these intellectual gadgets to uplift the stability and credibility of their machines. Despite SSDs' significant benefits, hard disk drives are still the most prominent part of personal computers because of their less costly nature and data storing magnitude.

History of the hard drive

In 1956, the first-ever built-in hard drive cost up to 50,000 dollars with a storage size of just 5 megabytes. Next, in 1963, manufacturers focused on building a portable drive, whose size shrank to 2.6 megabytes. That was in 1980 when a company developed a hard drive with a one-gigabyte storage capacity. However, the weight and price were still annoying factors that needed improvement. Finally, the problem of drive size concluded when in 1983, Rodime introduced a 3.5 inches gadget with 10 megabytes storing magnitude.

Should I say “hard disk drive” or “hard drive”?

Both the terminologies “hard drive” and “hard disk drive” are correct and refer to the same tool. However, the most suitable name is a hard drive, which helps it stand louder in structure. No rotating parts, platter, spindle, actuator, and head are part of the solid-state drive. An SSD is composed of a non-movable tiny chip that electrically saves data.


We apprehend our article has addressed your queries regarding the notion of what is hard disk drive. A hard drive is a collection of elements that keep on spinning to read/write data and locate information files. The most praised aspect of this unit is the substantial magnitude of saving data. However, the gadget has sacrificed other significant features like performance, latency, access rate, and delivery time. One can quickly address these problems by coupling an SSD gadget with an HDD unit. HDD helps save enormous data while SSD chip enables faster access, low latency, and supercharged performance. Both internal and external hard drive modules help expand the storing magnitude of a PC.