Most people understand that a hard drive is a rectangular-shaped piece of metal fitted inside of the personal computer, more specifically, onto the motherboard of the personal computer.
But exactly does the hard drive do? The function of the computer’s hard drive is to store information, and make that information retrievable upon the user’s command.
A decade ago, the average personal computer came with a very small hard drive – less than 1 GB. Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to imagine a computer with just 1 GB of Hard Drive Space. The average personal computer nowadays is outfitted with about 500 Gigabytes of hard drive space. What exactly does that mean? It means that the average personal computer nowadays has enough hard drive space to hold over 1 million songs or 500,000 novels. That’s a lot of space. And it keeps getting bigger and better every day.
How is information stored and retrieved on the hard drive. Information on a computer’s hard drive is stored in special folders. For example, music is stored in the Music folder, written documents are stored in the Documents folder, videos are stored in the Videos folder, etc.
The amount of folders on a computer’s hard drive is only limited to the imagination. A hard drive could have two folders or two hundred.
Information stored on a hard drive is also given an “extension name.” The extension name will tell the computer which program should be used to read the information. For example, a document created using Microsoft Word will have a “.docx” extention. For example, myhomework.docx. The .docx extension tells the computer to open the information using Microsoft Word next time someone clicks on it.
Some other extensions are:
.csv – information that will be read with the Microsoft Excel program.
.pdf – information that will be read the Adobe Acrobat Reader or similar program.
.mp3 – the .mp3 extension is used for the most popular music files.
The file extension to information saved on a hard drive is usually given automatically based on what program was used to create, edit and store the information.
From the book, “A Martian’s Guide to Understanding Human Computers” by Patrick Carpen.