GREETINGS TO ALL FROM MALICE-CORP. We find ourselves now on part 3 of this little 4 part trip down the basic technology road show.  We are going to talk about the hard disk drive (HDD) of you PC.  Like I mentioned in the earlier articles that the HDD is the research library of your student (CPU) and he writes down all his notes for what he is activity working on from that research library down in his notebook (RAM).  I will not be covering solid state drives (SSD) in this article, well mostly because there is a lot to say on them and they have not become as popular as they should be!


Well the HDD can be come in several different types and has for some people become a synonym for just mass storage in general, but to be clear not all mass storage are HDD but normally all HDD are some form of mass storage.  It is just really important to know that HDD store large amounts of data no matter what type of drive it is and slower to find this data and pass it to the CPU than RAM is.  What you need to know is what kind of Drive you have (physical size and interface), how much capacity you have, and how much is free!  There is some more stuff we will talk about in the deep dive that is interesting but you don’t need to know to get started.

Hard Disk Drive Type (Physical size/Interface)

By type of drive I am mostly talking about it’s physical size and interface. Drives mostly come in two sizes now 3.5 and 2.5 inch drives.  There are older larger drives out there but when you head over to Amazon to order yourself a new drive these are what you are going to run across.  The larger 3.5 drive is normally considered a desktop drive but and the smaller 2.5 is a laptop drive.  There is not a lot of difference in the drives themselves but you just can’t fit a 3.5 drive into a 2.5 drive slot.

Hard Disk Drive Interface types

You will find there are lots of different interface types but you are only going to have to really care about one type in your normal home PC and that is SATA or Serial ATA.  If you have a really older PC you might have a PATA (Parallel ATA).  PATA drives used to be called IDE or EIDE.  If your PC has a PATA drive in it, really it is time for an upgrade.  I will talk about some of the other types in the deep dive.

Hard Disk Drive Capacity and Usage

Now lets talk about capacity.  Hard drives like I said above are mass or bulk storage devices, currently rated in Gigabytes or Terabytes for capacity.  Really quite a byte is 8 bits.  You can check some of my earlier articles where I broke down some of these measurement sizes or just comment below if you have more questions.

    • 1,000 bytes = 1 kilobyte.
    • 1,000 kilobytes = 1 megabyte.
    • 1,000 megabytes = 1 gigabyte.
    • 1,000 gigabytes = 1 terabyte.

Checking the capacity of drive varies from operating system to operating system.  For windows 10 all you have to do is look at ‘This PC’. You can do that by click the windows button on the bottom left corner of your screen, type in “this PC’.  Once it is open it will list your hard drives on the column to the left. Left click the drive then right click, select properties and you now have a deep look at your drives capacity and how much is being used.

A full System Hard Drive is a really bad thing.  If your main drive is full it is time to pick up a new drive are start removing some of the older programs you are not using as much any more.  A full system drive will interfere with your virtual RAM and page file utilization. These are higher end concepts and I won’t cover them here just remember full system drive bad.

Really detailed (can skip this part if you don’t want a deep dive)

Other types of drive interfaces include: Fibre Channel, SCSI, and SAS. These are more specialized interfaces and come into play more specific usages like SAS drives in SAN(s) or purpose built devices like video security systems or SCSI in servers and some high end MAC PC(s).

Nuts and bolts of a traditional HDD is very simple in nature and may or may not kind of remind you of a record player.  Plates inside the HDD spin at a very high rate of speed.  You may have noticed the 7200 RPM listed on a HDD box maybe.  Well that means that the plates or platters are spinning inside the hard drive at 7,200 revolutions per minute.  The faster the drive is spinning the faster the armature.  The part that looks like a record player arm can read data of the platters.  This will drastically increase the seek time of a hard drive, but a physical drive another name for a hard drive because it physically writes the data to the platters will never be as fast as RAM because of the very nature of the fact it is physical and the drive has to find the data on the platters to read it.

THE POINT (Basic Personal Computer Primer, part 3) –

Hard Disk Drives hold a lot of data, but are slow to accesses that data.  If your student (CPU) doesn’t have a big enough notebook (RAM) he will be in the library (HDD) a lot to look up stuff and that cost him time which means your PC will have very slow performance.

If you have more questions like always just comment below.  Pleas like, share, and follow us on your favorite social media by just hitting one of the convenient buttons below.  You can support the site by visiting often, commenting, listening to our podcast on our YouTube channel or using some of our Amazon Affiliate links to do your normal Amazon shopping.

We will cover the the pocket calculator  (GPU – Graphics processing unit) in the next article; Basic Personal Computer Primer, part 4 GPU.

Jack Malice, Contributor and founder

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