What is a Hard Drive?

Ever wonder what a hard drive is?  A hard drive, or hard disk, is a magnetic disk inside your computer for saving all your documents, songs, and movies.   The software which makes a computer work is called “the Operating System” (like Windows or Linux).  This is also loaded on the Hard Disk Drive.  Any other Applications or Programs that allow you to work with data and manipulate information- like the MS Word for writing documents, for example, or the Media Player to hear songs or view videos- is also installed on your PC’s hard drive.

When the computer is switched on the boot system, as it’s called, looks on a special location on the hard drive, called the boot section, this begins the process of loading the Operating System in to the working memory of the computer.  Once the Operating System has loaded and you begin to start an application like MS Word the hard disk is put to work again.  This time the operating system controls the transfer of the program from the hard drive in to the working memory of the computer.  Once the process is finished you can begin to use the word processor.  Any files or data are stored for long-term access by the operating system running on the computer.

What is a hard drive bus? A bus is actually a physical cable connecting the Motherboard to the hard disk. The Motherboard is where the brain of the computer- the CPU is placed along with a multitude of other electronic equipments and devices like memory and interfaces for input or output devices. Serial Advanced Technology Attachment or SATA connects the computer to mass storage devices like hard disks. The SATA hard drive bus is fast and performs better at a lower cost compared to the old Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment or PATA bus interface which was used previously. The SATA cable is much less bulky and durable.  Nowadays most of the computers made use a SATA hard drive.

Sometimes an external hard drive is used.  Typically an external hard drive is used when there is a lot of information to be stored, such as photographs and videos or, more importantly, for backing up files and folders see our 1TB External Hard Drive category for a wide range of drives. The portable external hard drives now use the SATA hard drive bus interface but connect to your PC via USB.  However, some systems are coming out with a SATA hard drive port for an external hard drive giving faster transfer rates than USB.  

The latest sensational hard disk technology is using flash memory also called “solid sate”.  High end PCs have come to surpass the speed and power of standard hard disks and are using these solid state drives instead, giving higher reliability and speed.  It won’t be long before these become the standard hard drive in all new PCs, laptops and, especially, tablets.