Built-in Data Storage (HDD & SSD)

The HDD (Hard Disk Drive)

In order to operate, computers need a non-volatile (permanent) data storage device. This device must contain the memory of the OS, the software, and the data the user needs. That data must remain after the computer's power is turned off.

Since CPUs and RAM memory today are volatile You remember "volatile," right? Good.

By the way, we might get non-volatile RAM in the future--so when you turn your computer on, it remembers everything from before, and will start up immediately!
. In addition, RAM is relatively small in storage size (just a few GBs at most). You need something bigger and more permanent.

Therefore, most computers since the mid-1980's have an HDD (Hard Disk Drivea "drive" is a machine that reads and/or writes data onto some kind of storage material). An HDD uses hard metal discs, called "platters," which store the data magnetically. HDDs are cheap, high-capacity "capacity" means the amount of data it can hold, and are fairly reliable. You can get a 1 TBThat is 1,000,000,000,000 Bytes HDD for less than $100 nowadays.

However, there are several problems with HDDs: they are not solid stateYou remember solid-state from before, right? It means "no moving parts.", and so they break too often. They are also slow. HDDs use spinning metal disks; it takes time and power to start and stop the disk spinning. Also, they tend to be heavy and noisy.

This is why iPods changed from HDDs before to Flash (SSD) memory today.

The SSD (Solid State Drive)

As technology evolves, new solutions become popular. For example, we used to use "CRT" monitors, which were big, deep, and heavy. Today, we use LCD monitors, which are very thin and light. At first, LCDs were very expensive, but over time, their price fell. Today, all new computers come with LCD monitors.

Another new technology is the SSD (Solid State Drive), which is kind of a larger version of your USB Flash memory stick. Using the same chip-based non-volatile memory, the SSD can do the job better than traditional HDDs. SSDs are smaller, lighter, faster, and more quiet.

The big disadvantage of SSDs today: the cost. While a 500 GB HDD might cost $50, a 128 GB SSD might cost $500. That is much more expensive! However, SSDs are beginning to appear more and more in computers. As they become more popular, the prices will fall, and eventually HDDs will (probably) disappear.

Laptop computers today usually have a HDD between 120 and 500 GB in capacity. Desktop computers' drives tend to be 250 GB to 1 TB. These capacities will increase as time passes.

Do I Need a Bigger Drive?

The operating system takes up several GB (most likely less than 8 GB); a few hundred CD's worth of music may take up 10-15 GB. A single DVD movie is 4.4 to 8.5 GB. If you mostly just have word processing documents and perhaps some digital camera photos, a small HDD is fine. If you have a lot of digital photos and some movies, a medium-sized hard drive is better. If you plan on making and editing a lot of movies, you should get the largest drive you can find.

You can add HDD space later by buying external These are HDDs which come in their own case, and you plug them in with cables. In Japanese, they are called sototsuke. HDDs. You plug them into your computer with a peripheral cable, usually a USB cable. External drives can be added to any computer. You can buy a 1 TB external HDD for about ¥9,000 nowadays, and a 2 TB drive for about ¥15,000.

If you have a desktop computer, it may have space inside for an extra internal to install this, you must open up your computer and screw the drive in, then plug in power and data cables. In Japanese, these are called naizo. HDD, which can be cheaper (but it must be installed). Your laptop computer does not have space for another internal drive, but it is often possible to switch your laptop's existing HDD with another, bigger one.

Note: when you buy an extra hard drive, make sure of what type it is: external or internal. Internal drives are cheaper, but require a special type of computer, and take some work to install. If you buy an internal drive, be careful to note if it is IDE (an older type) or SATA (a newer type). Your computer's motherboard may only accept one type.

External HDDs can be connected by USB, FireWire, or by a Network Cable (Ethernet, LAN).