Computer Hard Drives
Hard Drive Specifications
The three main specifications to use to compare hard drives are
the storage capacity, speed and the cache size. For instance, the
minimum hard-drive should have:
- Size: 250G
- RPM: 7200 or faster
- Cache: 8MB or larger
In addition, look for the length and terms of the warranty. The
longer the warranty the better. Look for three or five years.
Hard Drive Types
If the computer can accommodate SATA hard drives, go for those
instead of PATA. These are commonly referred to as Ultra ATA, ATA/100,
ATA/133). The computer hardware industry is trying to phase out
SATA is often better in short bursts, but testing average reads
and writes are about the same for both.
Hard Drive Brands & Manufacturers
The main hard drive manufacturers are:
- Maxtor [owned by Seagate] – variable lifetimes. High
replacement percentage after 12-14 months.
- Western Digital
- Seagate Momentus [notebooks]
Hard Drive Speed
Your hard drive does not operate at the same speed as your processor.
This is why files are pulled up into RAM during processing, then
written back to the hard drive upon saving. The slower the hard
drive, the bigger the bottleneck in file accessing and saving operations.
For this reason, you should get the fastest hard drive you can find.
Hard Drive Cache
The hard drive cache stores recently used data in RAM. Using the
cache reduces the number of times the hard drive is accessed, and
therefore speeds up your system.
Hard Drive Uses
Hard drives are purchased for many reasons:
- Replacing a corrupt or non-functioning hard-drive
- Upgrading hard drive capacity
- External Back up drives - keep these unconnected and unpowered
unless in use.
Buying A Computer Hard Drive
First rule of buying computer hard drives is never, ever buy second
hand. Hard drives today are not inexpensive, and it is very difficult
to test the operational integrity of a hard-drive prior to purchase,
especially if buying online.
Caring For Your Computer Hard Drive
Electronic components hate excess heat. Overheating is a major
cause of computer failure, especially in laptops. The extreme heat
cracks the motherboards. Make sure there is plenty of air flow over
the hard-drive. Do not obscure fan ducts. You can even go the extra
step to make an additional duct from stiff paper that directs air
flow from the computer fan directly on the bottom of the drive.
Make sure your computer heat management system is sufficient for
the size of any new hard drive you add. A 7200 rpm drives run hotter
than the 5400 rpm drives. If you are upgrading, consider adding
additional cooling fans. Hard drive coolers are a standard accessory
Run disc check and disk clean software over the drive at least
weekly. I have a great widget that monitors any bad sectors and
the heat of my hard drive to alert me of any potential problematic
Make sure you back up data regularly. You can never trust a hard
drive. Hard drives with 5 year warranty's do not account for lost
or corrupt data.
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