How hard drives work

Computer is an electronic machine which helps us to store and manipulate data. Hard drives are the part of the computer which acts as a secondary storage device to save files. Computers may have one or more hard disk drives to increase the efficiency and functionalities on the system. Sometimes mainframe and supercomputer are connected to hundreds of hard disks drives. Other devices like VCR and camcorders use hard disks instead of tape.


Hard drives are classified into different types as mentioned below:

  • Non-volatile
  • Random Acess
  • Digital
  • Magnetic
  • Data Storage Device


Hard drives function with the following components:

  • Disk Motor:This component helps in spinning the disks.
  • Actuator: This component positions the read and write head assembly across the spinning disks.
  • Stator windings: These windings are the external rotor, which are attached to the disk motor.
  • Platters: : A circular disk with a metal coated is mounted inside a hard disk drive. Number of platters are mounted on a fixed spindle motor to create a disk space to store large amount of data.
  • Tracks: Each platter is divided into thousands of tightly packed concentric circles which are called as tracks.
  • Sectors: Every track is again broken into smaller units known as sectors. Sector is the most basic unit which helps in storage of data on hard drive.
  • Clusters: Sectors combine together to form a cluster.


Hard drive consists of a sealed unit which stores a number of platters in stack. Hard drives can be mounted in horizontal or vertical manner. Electromagnetic read / write heads will be positioned above and below every platter. While platters spin, the drive head starts moving towards the center and towards the edge. In such manner, the drive heads can read the data stored on entire surface of platter.

Useful Links

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