All of your documents, pictures and settings are stored in Hard Drives. Some people call the “computer box” the hard drive but this is properly known as the tower. The hard drive comes in 2 sizes 3.5inches in desktops and 2.5inches in laptops. More expensive computers and the ultra light portables have a newer type of drive SSD (Solid State Drive) which has no moving parts. The more common Hard Disk Drive Most hard drives contain a number of stacked platters (The drive below has 2 disks and the information is on both the top and bottom of the disks)
The disks spin at a very high speed, from 5400rpm to 7200rpm. Compare this to our old record albums which were 33 or 45 rpm. Like a record player the data is read and written by an arm that moves across the disk as it spins. The picture below shows the arm (armature) in the parked position. The armature is not a needle but is held above the disk by air pressure. It floats extremely close to the drive. In fact the oil left from a fingerprint is higher than the armature.
As computers have generally become reliable, hard drive failures become the most common problem that I get contacted about. While most other computer issues can be expensive and inconvenient, if you don’t have a good backup a hard disk failure can be devastating as you can lose your priceless photos and business documents. I do have tools that can retrieve the data most of the time and there are services, costing $1k+ that can do more than I can. The best protection is a good backup.
A backup is simply having a second (or more) copy of you data. You can backup to a thumb drive but I prefer to use an external hard drives. These are relatively cheap and a Terabyte drive can be bought for under $100. Although a thumb drive can be used as a third copy of the most critical data.
Backups can be done manually but I recommend using an automatic backup. Apple supplies their Macs with a program called time machine. Window 7 and earlier have a program called “Backup and Restore” and since have a program called “File History”. I prefer the latter because it saves photos and documents as they are saved or updated. The earlier program only ran once a week by default and could be missed if the computer was not left on.
Two additional free backup programs that I use are Cobian and Macrium Reflect.