Know About Disk Drives

Everything to Know About Disk DrivesNo matter who you are or where you go, chances are that you have a storage disk somewhere in your pocket or purse. From MP3 players to smart phones, storage disks have become as mobile as the people who own them.

Flashing your thumb drive
In the movie "Apollo 13," Tom Hanks, playing astronaut Jim Lovell, talked about the computer in the Apollo command module, which could hold "millions of pieces of information." Forty years after Lovell traveled in the Apollo 13, anyone can hold the same amount of data, and much more, in a thumb drive hanging off a key chain.
These tiny storage devices make use of solid state "flash memory," storing information on an internal memory chip. Because they contain no moving parts, thumb drives can take quite a bit of punishment, making them a good choice when transporting documents and pictures from computer to computer.
Hard disk drives versus solid state
When hard disk drives (HDDs) first became available in home computers, they set the standard for future generations of computers. Manufacturers continue to make faster drives with greater capacity, so much so, that one gigabyte of internal storage space seems laughable these days.
Though HDDs are quite effective, they do contain moving parts, which can lead to a devastating crash. In some drastic circumstances, the data on a failed drive cannot be recovered, even with expert computer help. For more, read our article on "Backing up Your Computer".
Because this kind of disk failure is a painful reality, the solid-state drive (SSD) has become a popular upgrade for desktops and laptops. Like a thumb drive, the SSD has no moving parts, which makes it less susceptible to failure after being bumped or dropped. Sold-state drives are more expensive than the typical hard drive, but the prices are gradually dropping.
Benefits of external drives
Because computers now are used as much for entertainment as education and business, internal disk drives can fill up quickly. That's where an external drive comes in handy. This storage device plugs into a USB or FireWire port.
External drives are compact and easily packed into a carry-on bag for an important business trip. You can even buy a 2 terabyte drive for $200, which can hold up to 2 trillion bytes of information. That translates into more MP3’s than you can listen to in a year's time.
Safeguarding your data
When storing information on any type of drive, keep the following in mind:
  • Don't keep tax returns or credit card numbers on a thumb drive. They are too easy to lose.
  • If you own a small business, disable the USB ports on company computers. Confidential business secrets can walk out the door on a thumb drive or an MP3 player.
  • Use external drives to back up your home and business computers and keep them under lock-and-key.
  • When traveling, encrypt sensitive business information and always keep it with you in a carry-on bag. Never put an external drive in checked baggage.
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