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Storing Data Is a Miracle of Physics That We All Put Too Much Trust Into

Storing Data Is a Miracle of Physics That We All Put Too Much Trust Into

We all store data on our computers. Whether you have family photos and text documents on your home computer, or databases and on-premises applications running your entire business, data is typically stored in exactly the same way. If you knew how delicate your data actually was, you’d never let a single file exist in one place ever again. Let’s explore that.

How Do Hard Drives Store Data?

A traditional mechanical hard drive, also known as an HDD, holds your data on small magnetic platters. These platters are layered on top of each other, with a small mechanical arm that rests above them. Think about a record player, with the arm and needle over the record, except you have many, many records stacked on top of each other.

Of course, a record player spins the record between 33 and 78 times per minute. Your hard drive typically spins the platters much faster, most of them clocking in at 7200 rotations per minute.

The platters spin so fast, that it creates a cushion of air that prevents the head of the arm from touching the surface of the platter while it spins. This is critical, because if the head (the needle, to continue with the record analogy) were to even graze the surface of the platter, it would destroy the data on the drive.

These hard drives are mechanical in nature. Just like your car, mechanical systems can and will fail eventually. The little motor in the drive can burn out, the spindle can seize up, and so forth. These issues will very likely make the hard drive inaccessible. Thus, your data is lost. Opening files, saving files, and general computer use (even web surfing) causes the hard drive to read and write data. You are always using it, and depending on its stability to protect your data.

(Of course, there are also SSD drives, which don’t utilize moving mechanical parts. These tend to be a little more shock resistant, but they aren’t immune to failure either.)

Yet, we trust these devices every single day. If you have a computer or a laptop, you likely have one or two of these inside it. Your servers tend to have many more. Many of us have external hard drives we use to store data to take around with us. If they are using a mechanical-based hard drive, all of our data is at the mercy of several rapidly moving parts and a thin cushion of air.

This leads us to ask:

Why Would You Ever Rely on a Single Hard Drive?

If your data is only stored on a single hard drive, consider it at high risk. It only takes one tiny issue to lose it all.

Fortunately, preventing data loss is easier than ever. We help businesses establish thoroughly tested, highly-trusted backup solutions that ensure that no disaster will be able to destroy your data. That includes storing a copy of all of your data on a separate device within the office, and a copy stored securely offsite that you can access at any time. This means even a major disaster like a fire or flood doesn’t cause data loss.

Want to learn more? Give us a call at (703) 821-8200.

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