Welcome to another installment of Terminology Tuesday! Where we define some commonly misused and misunderstood computer terms!
Today’s term is Hard Drive.
Hard drives (HD) are used to store and retrieve all manners of digital data. This includes Word documents and pictures, spreadsheets and movies, music and everything in between. When we talk about storage space on a computer, we’re talking about the size of the HD. This size is measured in gigabytes (GB). The more GB the HD has, the more documents, pictures, songs, etc. can be held on the disk. The typical capacity for a HD is anywhere between 500GB and 1000GB (also called 1 terabyte (TB)).
Hard drives are not the only way data is stored. Most of Apple’s laptops utilize flash storage. These are the two options when it comes to storing data on a computer. The type of storage will affect the computer’s performance, so the terms hard drive and flash storage cannot be used interchangeably, even though they perform the same duties.
A downside to hard drives is that they can go bad and fail, causing data stored on them to be lost. Understanding how they work is useful in figuring out why this happens. Inside the HD, an arm reads data off of a rapidly rotating disk, similar to the way a record player reads music off of a vinyl. The moving parts in this can cause scratches to occur on the disk, making data unreadable. Bottom line: be very careful when moving computers with HDs and always make sure you back up your data to an external HD.