Hidden facts about the computer hard disk

The hard disk drive has changed our world beyond all recognition since it’s invention in the 20th century.

  1. The hard disk drive (or HDD) was invented as a means of secondary storage for computers by IBM. The first HDD was the size of two medium fridges, weighed a ton and had a storage capacity of 3.75 megabytes. In today’s terms, this would store the equivalent of one digital photo!! Luckily, things have moved on… A lot!
  2. In 2016, Dutch scientists invented the world’s smallest hard drive.This drive is capable of re-writing information by manipulating single atoms. Put simply, it means that all the books ever written could in theory be stored on a hard drive the size of a postage stamp!
  3. The substances contained in a hard disk drive are numerous.Some are even valuable. Typically, the outer parts are made of aluminium, but within the shell you will find glass, cobalt, nickel and magnesium. Precious metals such as platinum, copper, gold and silver are also components.Each year, the US throws away silver and gold worth more than $60 million, from mobile phones alone, into landfill!
  4. Every day, in the US, 112,000 laptops and PC’s are discarded containing precious metals, glass and plastics that could all be recovered. Harmful pollutants such as mercury, arsenic, lead and cadmium are buried in landfill sites which is disastrous for the environment.
  5. It’s difficult to erase the data on a hard disk drive. This is good news if you’ve accidentally wiped your holiday photos! It’s pretty bad if you’re wanting to dispose of sensitive company information.Wiping the software only covers up the data up with more data, leaving it open to recovery. Even if a hard disk is smashed by a hammer, the tiny shards still contain hundreds of megabytes of data which could in theory still be readable. One way of truly knowing the data has been wiped is by eliminating it via a magnetic field first (a technique called degaussing). We do this before we shred and recycle hard drives to be extra sure!
  6. Today, technology in laptops and PC’s are moving towards the more compact SSD(solid state drive) for data storage, like those found in mobile devicesAlthough currently more expensive, they offer better performance. As they are unable to hold the amount of data that a hard disk drive can, HDD’s will still be around for decades to come. SSD’s are more difficult to securely erase than traditional hard disk drives too.
  7. Don’t forget the CloudWhilst the concept of cloud storage was coined in the 1960’s, it was Amazon who were the first to introduce it as an alternative means of storing data. Businesses are sensibly moving increasingly toward cloud storage as an additional secure and accessible way of holding data.

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