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Inside Your Computer Part 5 – The Hard Disk Drive

Posted Thursday, April 29, 2004

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The hard drive is abbreviated to HDD, as in Hard Disk Drive. The HDD is used as storage by your computer, think of it as a large bookshelf that you can put everything into. This allows access to this information, without the need to insert disks, CD's, or other items that you can store information in. Your programs, personal information and operating system will all be here.

The Hard Disk is often mistakenly called the tower unit (or case).

There are 4 main different types of hard drives, SCSI, IDE, Serial ATA, and external. We will cover these briefly.

SCSI HDD - these drives are for high end users or servers, they are high speed, but at the same time come with a high price bracket. They can be around 3 times the price of a standard IDE drive, if not more. You should put series thought and research into SCSI drives before buying.

Recommended for : Workstations, mid-level to high-end servers, storage area networks, network attached storage, RAID storage arrays, filing and printing, EMA/Groupware, databases, data mining, CAD, Data Streaming, and intensive graphic applications.

IDE HDD - The IDE drive is standard in today's computers, it attaches to the same connection as your CD and DVD drives, because of the competitiveness of this market you should expect to buy at a very low price. If you wish to change or add a new HDD then you should think IDE first. Remember always buy the largest and fastest you can afford. In present day, as long as your computer supports it, look for at least an 80GB drive that runs at 7200 rpm, and has a 2mb cache.

Recommended for : Home users, small businesses and most gamers

SERIAL ATA - These drives are the new competitor for IDE. I can see in the not so distant future these drives becoming the new standard. Most new motherboards now come with connections for the serial ATA. These drives have large capacity, big buffers and have fast transfer rates.

The way of the future, but best left alone until you do a major system upgrade. Check with your motherboard manufacturer or manual for support of these drives.

EXTERNAL HDD - Not to be used as your main drive, these are best kept for backup and large data transfer. With the USB 2.0 drives now being the leader of the market this is the best to buy, but remember that before buying, make sure you have USB ports on your computer, and that these ports will support the drive. Always check with manufacturer, as older computers will only have USB 1.1 ports. The drive should work OK, but just make sure.There are other types of connectors used by external hard drives, ie PCMCIA and Firewire. Always check compatibility with your computer before purchasing.