What are Helium Hard Drives? | [Complete Breakdown]

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Came across the term Helium Hard Drive and now you are wondering what exactly is a Helium Hard Drive? Read this article and learn everything there is to know about Helium Hard Drives.

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Hard Disk Drives have been the preferred choice for data storage. You have used it, I have used it, and so have many others. It has been the leading choice for data storage for many users, a testament to the trust it has earned.

But with time, data storage requirements have exponentially increased, and so HDDs also had to evolve to keep up with this demand. Many tweaks and modifications have been made to the hard drives over the years.

One such modification gave rise to a novel technology- Helium Hard Drives.

What is a Helium Hard Drive?

A Helium Hard Drive is a hard drive (HDD) that is structurally the same as a regular hard drive but has an internal closure and is hermetically sealed with Helium gas inside the closure instead of ambient air.

In simpler words, to make a Helium Hard Drive all you need to do is remove air from an HDD, replace it with Helium gas, and then close it with an air-tight seal.

Why Did We Switch to Helium?

The working of a hard drive is based on the fact that, whether a certain region on the spinning platter is magnetized and aligned with the read/write head, or not. This way data is stored as binary code, as 1 when magnetized and 0 when not.

Air provides a cushion to support the platter making it float and move without scratching. But, paradoxically this presence of air also creates a drag force and air resistance which impedes the movement of the platter.

Since Helium has a much lower density than air, the aerodynamic drag and air resistance are reduced improving the data storage capacity and performance. Although the increase in the data storage capacity is not as drastic as DNA Data Storage, Helium Hard Drives have been in use for many years and are not just a future possibility.

Advantages of Using Helium

Using helium gas provides several advantages over standard HDD. These include.

Increased Platter Number

  • When we move the platters closer to each other the drag force and air resistance starts to increase.
  • Based on the IUPAC standard table air has a molecular weight of 28.96 g/mol while helium gas has a molecular weight of 4.00 g/mol. Since it is approximately 7 times lighter the drag force and air resistance are decreased.
  • Platters can be placed closer and hence more platters can be inserted per drive in the stack.

Faster Data Transfer and Seek Time

  • As explained above helium reduces drag force and air resistance. This allows platters to achieve higher RPM (Rotations per Minute) speed.
  • Reduced drag also allows smoother and more precise read/write head. This results in a faster data transfer rate and seek time hence improving the performance.

Reduced Energy Consumption

  • Due to less friction, the noise generated is reduced and so is the heat generated.
  • Helium has a thermal conductivity of 0.1513 W/(mK) which is significantly higher than that of air having 0.024 W/(mK). This implies helium has better heat dissipation.
  • All of these factors reduce the power consumption of a Helium Hard Drive.


  • Due to the decreased air resistance and friction the wear and tear of the internal components is significantly reduced.
  • Reduced wear and tear means that the drives can work for longer and have better reliability.

All these advantages make opting for a helium-filled hard drive a lucrative option.

Obstacles for a Helium Hard Drive

But with so many advantages there are some disadvantages also. These include.


  • One of the biggest concerns is that helium gas can leak out of the enclosure.
  • Since helium molecules are very small in size, they can leak out of even completely sealed containers by a process called Permeation.
  • So proper sealing techniques and good quality materials are required to reduce the rate of permeation and even after that refilling of the container will be required after a long time.

Note: The cost of physical data recovery is significantly higher than traditional hard drives as special types of equipment are required to unseal and reseal the drive along with the cost of refilling the Helium gas. For cheaper and safer data recovery, opt for logical data recovery software. I would recommend the Hard Drive Recovery Software.


  • Due to the specialized techniques required for sealing and the additional cost of helium, the manufacturing cost of helium hard drives is higher.
  • Although, over the long run it can be more cost-effective by saving energy consumption costs. It is still not an advantageous choice for everyday users and is more effective for industrial use.


  • Even though helium HDDs have less wear and tear and are more reliable they are still not as durable.
  • Physical damage puts it at risk of leakage and hence requires more maintenance.

These are some of the challenges that still need to be worked upon.

Present Status and Future Prospects

The first commercial Helium Hard Drive was introduced in 2013 and now it has been over a decade. So let us take a look at the present status of Helium Hard Drives and their prospects.

Market Presence

  • Helium Hard Drives have become the dominant technology for large-scale data centers as well as green data centers.
  • The slightly higher cost as compared to traditional hard drives prevents it from widespread adoption in consumer electronics like personal computers.
  • It has a significant portion of the market presence where High-Performance Computing (HPC) systems are used.

Future Outlook

  • With the inflating data storage demands, helium hard drives will become more dominant in data centers due to their reliability and data storage capacity.
  • With the advancements in nanotechnology and material science creating ultralow permeable materials, self-healing materials, etc, and developing better sealing techniques the operational cost and maintenance will further decrease.
  • While Helium Hard drives have better data storage capacity and cost per GB, when it comes to speed and durability SSDs have posed a challenge. Advancements in SSD technology can pose a challenge for helium hard drives for specific applications involving quick data access.


I hope this article helped you better understand what a Helium Hard Drive is, its advantages, disadvantages, and prospects. If you enjoyed the article please share it with others.

About the Author: Praneeth

Praneeth Anand is a skilled product manager and research analyst with a strong background in the tech industry. He is currently employed at Remo Software, a leading provider of data recovery solutions. Praneeth's expertise in data recovery software’s, market research, and strong connect with storage devices has been instrumental in Remo Software's success. He is…