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Questions About HDD Specifications

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hello all,

So I've been doing a lot of research about Hard Drives lately because I want to know what to look for when I buy one. However, in spite of all my research, there are a few basic questions about the physical disks/platters that I haven't found answers to. I realize that most of these questions are irrelevant when shopping for an HDD, but I'm curious about them nonetheless. Can somebody ease my mind? tongue.gif

1) Do most consumer 3.5" HDDs all have the same number of disks/platters inside, and if so, how many? Are all of these disks the same physical size (thickness/diameter)? Do they all have the same storage density per side?
2) Do the answers to question 1) also apply to 2.5" HDDs and other form factors?
3) Do the "drives" on Windows machines (eg, C: Drive, H: Drive, E: Drive, etc) correspond to physical disks or sides of disks, or are they higher level data structures that might have bytes on several disks?
4) Does an individual HDD always spin its disks/splatters at the same speed during execution (except when powering up or down)?
6) Do modern HDD disks have tracks in concentric rings or on a single spiral?

Thanks in advance for your help!
post #2 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shundra9 View Post

Hello all,

So I've been doing a lot of research about Hard Drives lately because I want to know what to look for when I buy one. However, in spite of all my research, there are a few basic questions about the physical disks/platters that I haven't found answers to. I realize that most of these questions are irrelevant when shopping for an HDD, but I'm curious about them nonetheless. Can somebody ease my mind? tongue.gif

1) Do most consumer 3.5" HDDs all have the same number of disks/platters inside, and if so, how many? Are all of these disks the same physical size (thickness/diameter)? Do they all have the same storage density per side?
2) Do the answers to question 1) also apply to 2.5" HDDs and other form factors?
3) Do the "drives" on Windows machines (eg, C: Drive, H: Drive, E: Drive, etc) correspond to physical disks or sides of disks, or are they higher level data structures that might have bytes on several disks?
4) Does an individual HDD always spin its disks/splatters at the same speed during execution (except when powering up or down)?
6) Do modern HDD disks have tracks in concentric rings or on a single spiral?

Thanks in advance for your help!

1. No. The number of disks, size, density, physical characteristics, can all vary between different drives, from the same manufacturer, even the same model of disk in different capacities.

2. Same as above applies.

3. Drives in Windows are logical and have relationship to the physical disks, sides of disks, or physical characteristics of the drive. They correspond to partitions usually (it can be much more complicated than that however). You can divide a drive into volumes which are logical divisions (or combinations). Most of the time a drive is used as a single partition so it shows up as a single drive letter in Windows. If you wanted to divide the drive into two partitions however, you'd get two drive letters. Or if you were to RAID disks, you could combine two drives under one drive letter. Short version: drive letters are purely logical and not physical.

4. In most cases, yes the HDD is constant speed and doesn't vary, however I have heard of variable speed drives I believe, some WD Green drives I couldn't not find RPM numbers on because they were supposedly variable but I don't know for sure. Generally they are constant.

5 (I think you meant 5 tongue.gif). Concentric rings.
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post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thank you LemonSlice! A few comments though:

1, 2) I think you misunderstood my question. I know that disk specifications vary throughout the industry; what I meant was, inside any one particular HDD, how many disks are there usually, what are they're dimensions, etc.

3) So suffice it to say, a lettered drive on a Windows machine usually refers to one entire HDD unit? (this would make sense since my old external HDD shows up as a new letter when I plug it in)
post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shundra9 View Post

1) Do most consumer 3.5" HDDs all have the same number of disks/platters inside, and if so, how many? Are all of these disks the same physical size (thickness/diameter)? Do they all have the same storage density per side? Varies depending on size and platter density. This website has a pretty comprehensive list of models and HDD platter configuration: http://rml527.blogspot.com/. Western Digital tends to be the same thickness. Seagate tends to use thinner chassis for single-platter drives.

2) Do the answers to question 1) also apply to 2.5" HDDs and other form factors? Yes.

3) Do the "drives" on Windows machines (eg, C: Drive, H: Drive, E: Drive, etc) correspond to physical disks or sides of disks, or are they higher level data structures that might have bytes on several disks? No physical correlation, really..

4) Does an individual HDD always spin its disks/splatters at the same speed during execution (except when powering up or down)? Constant rotational velocity. Common speeds (in RPM): 5200, 5400, 5900, 7200, 10000, 15000.

5) Do modern HDD disks have tracks in concentric rings or on a single spiral? Concentric, I think, but don't quote me on that.

Thanks in advance for your help!

See answers in green.
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post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shundra9 View Post

Thank you LemonSlice! A few comments though:

1, 2) I think you misunderstood my question. I know that disk specifications vary throughout the industry; what I meant was, inside any one particular HDD, how many disks are there usually, what are they're dimensions, etc.

3) So suffice it to say, a lettered drive on a Windows machine usually refers to one entire HDD unit? (this would make sense since my old external HDD shows up as a new letter when I plug it in)

Ahh yes I did misunderstand. Yes inside the same HDD I'm fairly confident they'd all me the exact same platters (thickness/width). I've taken a few apart and inside the same drive they've always been the same. And generally yes because the drives are set up that way, but realize a drive letter doesn't correspond to a drive so to speak, it corresponds to a partition. You can see my Disk Management window below, and you'll notice my main SSD is broken up into 4 parts. The first two are system partitions, the third is my actual C:\ drive, and the last unallocated space is over-provisioning. Hard drives can be divided into these parts, and so can any storage medium really. It only shows a C:\ drive however since the rest aren't assigned a drive letter. I could if I wanted to, except for unallocated space because that's not actually a partition, but I could also make it into one. The tags in front labeled "Disk 0" and "Disk 1" actually correspond to physical drives. But nothing will generally correspond to physical disks within the drive, that's usually transparent to the user and managed by the disk controller. My Disk 1 is actually set up in a single partition, so therefore it has one and only one slice and one drive letter.


Edited by LemonSlice - 7/10/13 at 10:29am
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post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Alright, thanks again LemonSlice smile.gif rui-no-onna, that website will definitely be very helpful. I appreciate your replies!
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