I am right now trying to put together a decent computer guide for all those people out there, who, like myself not long ago, need a place to start. I noticed when I learned everything that I needed to know to confidently purchase and the build my computers that I had to scour the internet, looking all over the place, to find the information I needed. The first edition of the guide is meant only to help the uneducated with just reading basic label, but the final goal it to get all the information together then a person would need to shop for, build, overclock, and maintain their own computers.
I have this part proof read, checked for basic accuracy, and finished. I would appreciate it if people could read this and point out any mistakes I made, any spelling or grammatical errors, or anything that would be difficult for somebody with a basic knowledge of computers to understand. All people who provide help will be mentioned under the screen name of their choice in the "thanks section" of this guide, when the first edition of it is to be released. I really appreciate any help I can get with this so that it can be as effective and helpful to others as possible when finished. I will plus rep rather generously for any good help.
The archive of anything and everything to do with your computer... mostly. Pretty much all data is stored here. Billions and trillions of little 0s and 1s encoded on to this device called a hard drive. What does a hard drive do? A hard drive provides a way of storing data necessary for programs and your operating system so that they can be retrieved at a later time, even when the computer has been completely powered off. As far as other parts of a computers go, the hard drive is easily the slowest part. However, it has the largest address space by far, and the existence of a hard drive allows your computer to use very large and complex programs.
A standard hard drive works like this; inside of the metal casing there is a one or more "platters". These are metallic disks that house data. A laser reads and writes data from these disks. When you press "save" on a word document, for instance the CPU assigns the data a name and registry within the OS, and then tells the hard drive to write it to one of these platters. The reader on the hard drive uses magnetization to create a electronic impression on the disk. The data is then given an inode file, which tells the operating system where on the hard disk the data is placed. So when you need the data again, your CPU reads the inode file, and retrieves it. Pretty cool right?
Your hard drive also acts like a back-up RAM. In windows this is called the "paging files", in linux they refer to this as the "swap file". Both OS will use at least some of the hard disk at all times for this paging, and if you run out of system memory, the paging files provides secondary random access storage and keeps those programs running without crashing. The paging files are very, very slow compared to RAM, but I certainly would not want to have a system without them, just in case.
Now we all have used files of various sizes, a lot of use without understanding exactly how large the file is. You average hard drive in today's computer is anywhere from 80g-120gb in size. New hard drives are much larger then that, but this is what the average desktop or laptop is equipped with. In computers, all data is stored in binary format, which contains 0's, and 1's, and looks like a long chain of the combination of the two (for instance 0001110101010010...). These numbers tell your computer when to pulse on and off with electrical charges, in a very rapid and complex way that gets your computer running the way we all like it. One digit of binary code, or a single zero or one like listed above, is referred to as a bit. In a standard operating system like today's computers 8 bits= one byte. A byte is the standard size of one text character, such as the letter A, in a word document. 1024 bytes (b)= 1 kilobyte (kb). 1024 kilobytes= 1 megabyte (mb). 1024 megabytes= 1 gigabyte (gb). 1024gb= 1 tetrabyte (tb). To give you an idea, the average text document contains anywhere from 50-600kb. The average mp3, or music file, contains anywhere from 3-7mb. While your average HD movie or video game takes up a whopping 4gb. That is data storage in a nut shell.
Series Spinpoint F1
Interface SATA 3.0Gb/s
RPM 7200 RPM
Average Seek Time 8.9ms
Average Latency 4.17ms
Form Factor 3.5"
The above is a samsung F1 spinpoint hard drive. It is rated for 1tb of data.
This particular hard drive was made by samsung, who is a some what new player on the hard drive market. In the world of hard drives there are three big hitters, and that is Samsung, Seagate, and Western Digital, however there are dozens of other companies that also make storage devices, including internal hard drives. In particular, one cheap brand that is also fairly popular is Hitachi. Hard drive manufactures release their drives in series, in general the newer series tend to be faster then the older series, even if not by much.
SATA 3.0gb/s is the newest type of standard interface for hard drives. SATA stands for
" Serial Advanced Technology Attachment". 3.0gb/s is the maximum transfer rate that interface is capable of. 3.0gb/s SATA is also referred to as SATA II, as SATA I had a maximum transfer rate of 1.5gb/s. SATA is now the newest standard for hard drives, but you can still find many IDE (or "integrated drive electronics") devices instead. Sometimes these are also referred to as PATA, or "Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment". IDE drives are yet slower then sata, and require a different installation method. For high performance drives used on servers, there is an SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) as well. This, however, is not compatible with a standard motherboard without the addition of a PCI RAID controller that supports SCSI devices.
Now while the hard drive may be advertised as 1tb, or 1024gb, what you will actually get is about 936gb instead. This is because hard drives manufacturers choose to define their measurements of data differently then the whole rest of the computer world. To them, data is measured in increments of 1000. So they define 1kb as 1000b, and 1mb as 1000 kb, ect instead of using them in increments of 1024 like your computer does. Still, every company does it, and there is no way of getting around it.
Stands for "rotations per second". Your hard drive platter spins when accessing and writing data, much like a DVD or CD does in a burner. Most hard drives now operate at 7200 rpm. The faster the rotations, the faster the hard drive can access data. Today, 5400rpm hard drives are still fairly common, especially in Macs. Western Digital makes "raptors" which spin at 10000rpm, and there are some ultra performance drives that rotate at 15000 rpm. These tend to be very expensive though, and lack good capacity.
The device cache of the hard drive is used to store data while it is doing whatever the hard drive is doing. It is faster then the paging files, and closer to the device then RAM. The hard drive cache has a small impact on how fast the hard drive is. Bigger drives tend to have larger caches.
Average Seek Time:
This is supposed to be how long it takes for the hard drive to access the data on the disk. I will be the first to say though that this number is completely false. It is often much longer then that. Usually, especially with larger files on a high capacity drive like this one, the hard drive will have to seek the disk more then once to retrieve all the data. In hard disk drive tests it is not uncommon to see drives score an average seek time of double this. Still, all 7200rpm drives are listed with this seek time, no matter what it really may be for realistic circumstances.
: How long it takes for the drive to kick up and start doing what you computer has told it to do. Like seek times, it often takeas longer then what it is listed for. Most hard drive manufactures will list their latency at 4.17ms.
The size of the hard drive, or how big it is. This one is the standard 3.5", very common in desktops and roughly the size of a thin journal or paper back book. 2.5" is also a common form factor that is usually for hard drives used in laptops.
I will be editing in links to threads like this one, as I complete more sections and post them like I did here. If anybody could follow and read one of these links as I update them, I would appreciate that tremendously.
Help me with my memory thread:
Or with my GPU thread:
or with my CPU thread:
or with my motherboard thread: