What is a “hard disk drive”? A hard disk drive is a digital hardware device designed to be non-volatile so that it can store secondary data on a computer. Basically, a hard drive, or HDD for short, is a piece of hardware that stores your computer’s information! It is different from RAM because when you turn your computer, the data on RAM, or random access memory, is erased. On a HDD, data is written onto a platter of “disks” held on a spindle as a read and write arm etches the data in. Because the hard drive is non-volatile, your information is not lost and continues to work even after the computer is cut from its source of electricity.
There are two different types of HDDs. The internal hard drive, is well internal, and is located inside the computer’s house, or tower (sometimes called the hull). It needs to be kept away from static electricity or it will not work (because the disks are magnetized). You can actually take a peek at some exposed disks underneath the casing of nearly all internal HDDs. Just be sure not to touch it! Seriously, the human body carries loads of static electricity.
External hard drives are located outside the computer’s tower. External HDDs are enclosed in a case of different materials like plastic. Instead being connected to a pot on the motherboard, they are usually connected by USB or other ports (usually for added speed). They are the newer versions of their predecessors that boast nearly the same speed but more functionality. One of their main purposes is for traveling and taking along with you on long trips.
However, one important thing to note is that internal HDDs suffer from a lot of security breaches. Many people also only have 1 HDD and this makes it easy for an intruder to hack all the information in your computer. Of course it seems like it will never happen but it actually happens quite frequently. Viruses such as Trojans can easily undermine your entire system in as little as a day, rendering your computer and its data unreadable. Firewalls and anti-viruses only go so far.
You see, external HDDs are an excellent form of extra security for your computer. External HDDs are connected by USB cables so that in itself is an added security measures. Many external HDDs also boast extra firewalls and encryption than stand-alone internal HDDs. Finally, a common security measure is to use an internal HDD for Operating System files and then creating a back-up of the files onto and external hard drive. Then you would usually store sensitive information such as passwords onto the external hard drive as well. And that’s pretty much the basics of what you need to know about hard drives and security. Stay safe!