The component inside a computer where information is stored and retrieved.
The hard drive is where all of the data pertaining to your operating system, programs, and personal files are stored. The larger your hard drive, the more files you will be able to store on it. The faster your hard drive, the quicker your computer will be able to access your files and programs, making applications load faster.
Also See: File, Desktop Computer
Frequently Asked Questions
Does every computer have a hard drive?
Yes. Even computers that rely on cloud storage, such as Chrome laptops, need a small amount of hard drive space in order to store essential operating system and program files. In many cases, these hard drives are very small, and may not allow you to write information to them. In other devices they may be large enough to save many of your files locally and even install additional software, though not enough to store many large files, such as movies or high-resolution pictures. This is often the case with inexpensive smartphones and tablets.
How do choose a hard drive?
The type of hard drive you choose will depend on your personal computer requirements and budget. The most economical hard drives today are hard disk drives, which store and retrieve information on hard, rotating disks. HDDs are also the largest capacity hard drives available, making them ideal for anyone who needs to store large amounts of data. If you plan on storing thousands of high-resolution digital photos or using your computer to store videos, an HDD is likely your best option. Solid-State Drives, on the other hand, are more expensive and have much lower storage capacities, but they are significantly faster. A computer booting from an SSD can typically boot in a matter of seconds. SSDs are also quiet and require less physical space. Most mobile devices and many laptop computers utilize SSD storage to reduce their weight and increase performance.
If you need both high storage capacity and increased speed, you could consider using a combination of SSD and HDD. Placing your operating system and program files on the SSD will improve performance, while your files can reside on the much larger HDD. You might also consider a hybrid drive, which combines a small SSD with a large HDD. Hybrid drives use the SSD as cache, allowing your system and programs to load at speeds similar to a traditional solid state drive.
How many hard drives does my computer have?
Most computers only have one hard drive. In some cases, you may see two drives listed in your file explorer, but this is probably because a single drive has been partitioned into two sections, one for your operating system and programs, the other for file storage. It is possible to add additional hard drives to many systems, particularly desktop computers. This can be done to increase the storage capacity, create data redundancy (using two hard drives to store exactly the same information, so if one fails you always have a working copy), or to enable your computer to boot into two or more operating systems.