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Hard Disk Drives
The hard disk drive in your system is the "data center" of the PC. It is here that all of your programs and data are stored between the occasions that you use the computer. Your hard disk (or disks) are the most important of the various types of permanent storage used in PCs (the others being floppy disks and other storage media such as CD-ROMs, tapes, removable drives, etc.) The hard disk differs from the others primarily in three ways: size (usually larger), speed (usually faster) and permanence (usually fixed in the PC and not removable).
Hard disk drives are almost as amazing as microprocessors in terms of the technology they use and how much progress they have made in terms of capacity, speed, and price in the last 20 years. The first PC hard disks had a capacity of 10 megabytes and a cost of over $100 per MB. Modern hard disks have capacities approaching 100 gigabytes and a cost of less than 1 cent per MB! This represents an improvement of 1,000,000% in just under 20 years, or around 67% cumulative improvement per year. At the same time, the speed of the hard disk and its interfaces have increased dramatically as well.
Your hard disk plays a significant role in the following important aspects of your computer system:
This chapter takes a very detailed look at hard disks and how they work. This includes a full dissection of the internal components in the drive, a look at how data is formatted and stored, a discussion of performance issues, and a full analysis of the two main interfaces used to connect hard disks to the rest of the PC. A discussion is also included about the many confusing issues regarding hard disks and BIOS versions, and support for the newer and larger hard disks currently on the market. Finally, a full description is given of logical hard disk structures and the functioning of the FAT and NTFS file systems, by far the most popular currently used by PCs.