The hard drive is the component in your computer that stores
all your information and provides your computer with an 'identity'.
All your preferences, all your data files, all your configurations
and settings, and all your programs are stored on the hard
drive. To continue with our metaphors, the hard drive would
store your memories, experiences, personality and DNA all
wrapped up into one. When saying 'my' computer, what makes
your computer your own is your hard drive.
Having said this
the hard drive seems to be a fairly critical component of
your system, second in importance perhaps only to the motherboard.
The number one factor when deciding which hard drive is
right for you is reliability - an unreliable hard drive
is the cause of the worst nightmares for any computer owner.
Nothing is more difficult to recover from than errors caused
by a faulty hard drive.
Hard drives store
information on circular platters. When you read from or
write information to a hard drive, it takes time for the
platters to rotate into position. Every time the drive's
read/write heads jump from track to track, you need to wait
again for those platters to spin into place. This delay
is known as latency. The average latency of a drive is measured
by the time it takes for the platters to spin half a turn.
The speed of data transfer is determined by the interface
and given in a statistic called the burst transer rate.
There are several
types of hard drives currently in production and use in
computer systems. For most users, the entry level EIDE Hard
drives are more than sufficient both in terms of performance
and capacity. Typical features of a good quality EIDE Hard
- < 9.0 ms
access speed (or faster)
- 7200 RPM (Revolutions
- Ultra ATA/100
- 2 MB buffer
- Burst transfer
rate of 100 MB
- MTBF (Mean Time
Between Failures) of 750,000 hours
- 3 year warranty
- Reliable manufacturer
home page with technical support and FTP site
you are running a server or need to free up system resources
which EIDE drives require, then you may consider using a
SCSI hard drive. These devices use a different type of interface
with the motherboard and requires a SCSI controller card.
Typical features of good quality Ultra2 SCSI drives are:
- 7200 RPM
- 240 MB/s maximum
media data rate
- 7.0 ms average
seek time or better
- Thermal Monitor
- Fly Height Monitor
- 2,048K Buffer
- MTBF of 1,000,000
- 5 year warranty
For most computers,
the current sizes of hard drives (smallest size available
is 20 GB) are large enough to store all the programs and
data you will use for the next several years. Only users
working with large amounts of video and images will find
the need for larger hard drives.
Comments on Hard Drive Manufacturers
Note that each
manufacturer is given ratings in three categories according
to the feedback from clients and other companies in the
computer industry, and industry magazines. These areas are
performance, reliability and cost and the ratings range
from a high of 10 to a low of 1. Note that a 10 in each
categories would mean the fastest performance, most reliable
and highest cost. The ideal ratings values would be 10,10,1.
|Western Digital - High reliability,
excellent support, history of quick response when flaws
|IBM - High reliability
|Quantum - Good quality and performance
|Seagate - Reliability concerns in
|Fujitsu - Popular choice for 'econo'
|Maxtor - Long history of poor quality,
good tech support (they need it)
|Samsung - Popular choice for 'econo'