hard drives

What's the difference between a traditional hard drive and a solid state drive?

Michelle from Northridge, CA

Episode 1450

Leo says that all traditional spinning hard drives are basically the same. They're basically like record players, but instead of vinyl, they use spinning metal plates. Those plates are magnetic, so they can be magnetized. They also have read heads, at least one per platter, which are like the needle on the record player. Except instead of reading the grooves in vinyl, they're reading the magnetic signals coming off the spinning platter. Because it's a computer, everything is recorded as 1's or 0's, and it's very easy with magnetic material to have a charge or no charge.

Why won't my hard drive boot up?

Episode 1452

Jason from Goldendale, WA
NewerTech Universal Drive Adapter

Jason has an old HP Pavilion and he's upgraded it to Windows 10. Recently, it hasn't been able to start up. Leo suspects that the hard drive has started to die. Luckily, hard drives are pretty cheap. Then, to get his data back, he can get an external hard drive enclosure and move the data off it right away. The benefit is, the computer will run a lot faster, especially if he gets an SSD.

Are SSDs as reliable as spinning hard drives?

Episode 1451

Gary from Buffalo, NY
SSD

Are SSDs as reliable as spinning drives? Leo says yes. They are very robust and much faster. Will they wear out? Leo says SSDs use a technique called "wear leveling" to keep the drive consistently wearing and to extend the life of the drive. That's why Leo recommends using an SSD as the main drive, and storing data on a spinning data drive. Let the hard drive handle the constant read-write cycles, while the SSD handles all the performance.

Why is Microsoft Word running so slow?

Episode 1448

George from Palmdale, CA
Hard Drive

George gets an error message in Microsoft Word that it's not responding as he's typing. After a while it wakes up and catches up. Leo says that the keyboard has a buffer and it will catch up as the buffer dumps out. But it won't catch everything. And George has Windows 10 with Office, so there's something going on in the background that's slowing George down. Windows could be background indexing. He should check the task manager. There may also be plugins from the browser that's slowing things down.

Is it possible to build a hard drive to contain all the information in the world?

Episode 1445

Paul from Ohio
Hard drives

Paul wonders if it would be possible to build a hard drive that could hold all the information available in the world. Leo says that currently, we have hard drives large enough to hold all the information in the Library of Congress. But we really don't know how much information we really have in the world. We do know that by 2025, there will be 163 ZetaBytes (a trillion gigabytes). We're creating data at a rate of 16 trillion GB a year. The largest hard drive out there is 8,000 GB. So probably not. But that's what we have the cloud and the internet for.

Can I clone my hard drive to an SSD?

Episode 1437

Larry from Petaluma, CA
SSD

Larry's desktop runs Windows 10 and he's planning on putting an SSD in. How does he clone his spinning drive? Leo says that most hard drives have cloning software included that he can download and run. He'll want to make sure it's a sector-by-sector copy. Then Leo recommends keeping the spinning drive as his data drive. Disc 0 will be his "C" drive. Disc 1 is the second partition. He can clone both partitions at once. Then he'll have the partitions kept in place as well.

How can I image a hard drive to a large thumb drive?

Episode 1435

Mike from Norwich, CT
DriveImage XML

Mike has a 1 TB thumb drive that shows up as a 2 TB drive. Leo says it could have been mislabeled. He should look in his disk management console. He can get there by right clicking on the Start menu, and selecting disk management. It will give him a more accurate indication of the size. If it's 2TB, then it was mislabeled. Also, since Mike bought it off eBay, it's something to be careful with. Can he use it to copy another hard drive? Leo says sure. He should try DriveImage XML to do it.