Have you ever wondered what is inside your computer? Wonder no more! Let’s demystify the parts and pieces of the computer, one step at a time!

The hard drive is where all of your long term information will be stored. We said that RAM was like our short term memory, but the hard drive is like a warehouse or storage shed where we put all of our stuff. Everything we remember and everything we have goes there! Our applications, pictures/videos, our files and records, everything will be saved to the hard drive!

Traditional hard drives use spinning platters to record data. These kinds of drives come at various speeds and sizes for all types of computers. One of the difficulties with this type of hard drive, is that often when you first install an application or create a document the file remains complete in one location on the disk. Initially this is great, however, if you go back and do an update to the app or document then the data becomes spread out over the disk instead of being easily read all together while the disk is spinning. This requires a process called defragging to de-fragment the data and put it all together again.

Solid state hard drives have the exact same function as a traditional spinning platter hard drive. However, rather than having a spinning platter and using an arm to search for data, they have interconnected flash chips. It is similar to RAM in that they operate the same way. Solid state hard drives (SSDs) are more expensive than their traditional hard drive counterparts. They also tend to be smaller in space. Larger SSDs that you currently tend to see in computers would be between 256GB and 500GB of storage, though for a cost you can get 1TB and larger in space to store all your data.

The Hybrid drive takes the best of both worlds and creates a faster more responsive hard drive with more storage space. As an example, you could find a 1TB drive in which 32GB of that space is on flash chips and the rest is a spinning platter. This way, your operating system could be loaded onto the flash chips as well as your most used applications for greater performance. However you still have the remaining space to fill on the traditional hard drive portion which is significantly larger to hold all of your data. These types of hard drives are a perfect mix of performance and function. They also tend to be in the middle between traditional and solid state drives in terms of price.

Space

is a simple concept to understand. Think of it like a glass. All of your applications, documents, pictures, and updates are like water. As you fill up your glass with water, eventually it will get full and it will overflow. Hard drives however cannot overflow. Once they are out of space they cannot hold anymore data. Depending on your needs, hard drives come in a variety of sizes. Smaller drives are going to be less than 120GB of space where as larger drives can be 3-5TB! Now, this strictly applies to what you can save onto your physical drive in your computer, where as for laptops and smart phones there is cloud storage which is an entirely different option we’ll cover later!

Speed

is directly related to hard drives with spinning platters (traditional and hybrid drives). They are rated in speed based on how many revolutions per minute the hard drive operates at. A 5400RPM drive is slower than a 7200RPM drive. A computer with faster hard drives can find the required data faster, however they also generate more heat and can deteriorate more quickly if the build quality is low. Faster drives not only have faster reading times, but often can write (read: install or create new data) more quickly as well. Something to mention, is that drives with a spinning platter will never be as fast as a solid state drive. If speed is the name of your game, there is only one kind of drive fast enough for you!