Introduction: What Is a Hard Drive

A hard drive is a non volatile memory piece of hardware that stores data. Which means a hard drive stores data regardless if the power is turned off or if the power connection is interrupted. A hard drive has one or more platters where data is written to with a magnetic head inside of a air-sealed casing. A internal hard drive resides in the drive bay and connects to the motherboard using a ATA, SCSI, or SATA cable and is powered by a connection to the PSU. One iteration of a hard drive is a SSD. The difference between a SSD is data is stored in a pool of NAND flash. NAND itself is made up of what are called floating gate transistors. Unlike the transistor designs used in DRAM, which must be refreshed multiple times per second, NAND flash is designed to retain its charge state even when not powered up.This makes a SSD volatile memory also. Another iteration is a PCIe SSD which is a high speed expansion card. The major difference between the SSD and the PCIe SSD is that the PCIe SSD connects directly to the motherboard and because of this has better performance. Lastly a hybrid hard drive uses components from a SSD and a regular hard drive for a faster experience. Performance wise a PCIe SSD is the fastest, SSD, hybrid hard drive, then hard drive. Some specifications hard drives use to show how fast they are is RPM’s which stands for revolutions per minute, this is used to tell you how fast a hard drive is.

Step 1: Parts of Hard Drive

1. Actuator that moves the read-write arm.

2. Read-write arm swings read-write head back and forth across platter.

3. Central spindle allows platter to rotate at high speed.

4. Magnetic platter stores information in binary form.

5. Plug connections link hard drive to circuit board in personal computer.

6. Read-write head is a tiny magnet on the end of the read-write arm.

7. Circuit board on underside controls the flow of data to and from the platter.

8. Flexible connector carries data from circuit board to read-write head and platter.

9. Flexible connector carries data from circuit board to read-write head and platter.

Step 2: Maintenance

To physically care for your hard drive you should not take it out of the case once it is put it, because hard drives are very fragile and try not to jostle or kick around your case because it’s made to protect your components from outside problems. Instead of turning off your PC leave it in standby mode because the frequent turning off and on of your PC puts where on the HDD itself. Other ways to care for your hard drive is 3rd party softwares that check the data on the disk, performance, speeds, temp, health. These 3rd party softwares are convenient but if you don't want to install one you can open your command prompt and type wmic (enter), diskdrive get status (enter). If you receive a error from any of these programs/tools used this does not mean your hard drive is going to fail immediately, however it will be in the near future and you should backup all your stored data.

Step 3: Troubleshooting

There are signs to tell if your hard drive's life time is going to end. Some of them are frequent freezes,PC is slowing down, if files begin not to open, or strange sounds. If your getting and error message on your screen like in the first picture above, the first step to troubleshooting your hard drive is checking the connections to the hard drive which means SATA cable and PSU connection. Look at pictures 2-7 for reference and pictures 3-4 is of how the PSU connection should look and pictures 5-7 is of the SATA cable and how it connects from the hard drive to the motherboard. Picture 2 shows you the ports on the hard drive and the SATA port is the smaller port and on the right, the PSU connection is the bigger port and on the left. If one of these connections were jostled lose than the error would come up because if the PSU connection were not in the HDD would not have power and if the SATA cable were not in the CPU could not process the information on the HDD. If this does not fix your problem restart your PC and during post press function key 8, look to picture 8 for reference. The reason why we want to press F8 is because it opens the bios for the PC and there we can change the boot order of the devices connected. Navigate to the boot menu and have your hard drive added to the sequence it does not matter which order you have it in because all devices are going to be activated eventually during the post use picture 9 as a reference. If none of these steps work you will have to take your hard drive out and replace it with a new one like in picture 10 and follow the first step on how to reconnect the cables to the proper ports.

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