Hard drives are the backbone of storage for your computer. They store data on platters that spin with a motor, while read/write drive heads magnetically record information to and from tracks on the platters.

They also have electronics that control the mechanism, translate data into a form that can be written to the disk, and perform error correction and analysis. Earlier models used a PATA (Personal Computer Access) interface that was replaced in 2003 by Serial ATA (SATA).

The most basic HDDs use 3.5-inch platters, which are about the size of a refrigerator. They spin at up to 15,000 rotations per minute, with a motor that controls the position of the read/write head.

As the mechanical parts in a hard drive age, they can suffer from physical failures that can render the device useless. This can be caused by wear-and-tear or a major impact, such as a hard drop, that may cause the drive head to hit one of the rotating platters.

HDD performance is typically measured by the speed at which files open, download and transfer. A drive’s sequential write and read speeds can also affect how quickly a game loads or saves progress.

Other important factors include power draw and temperature, since overheating is a common cause of HDD failure. Our tests measure how much a drive draws at maximum load, how much it uses in idle mode, and how well it can handle sustained workloads. We also test for noise and vibration, which can be an issue if you want to use your drive in a laptop or other mobile device. Hard drives

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