Computer Science

All About Hard Drive Platters

Looking to store all your memories and information safely on your hard drive? It isn’t a dependable solution over the longer term – even the best hard drives are known to fail with time. While the SSD’s today can help make your informatin stay secure over a longer period of time, it wasn’t so easy even a decade back.

 

Back then, when everyone used hard drives, they needed to know about hard drive platters – which actually could determine how sturdy your hard drive is.

 

What Is a Hard Drive Platter?

Every computer hard disk drive consists of one or more disks that are coated in a magnetic media. These disks permanently store your computer’s data. These disks are called Hard Disk Platters or Hard Drive Platters. They are usually made of aluminium, ceramic or glass. When your computer is turned on, the Hard Disk platters rotate extremely fast, defined by your hard drive model’s speed (measured in RPM)Some hard drives are configured for 5600 RPM, some are configured for 7200 RPM and there are also some which go faster. As these platters rotate, the read/write head of the hard drive gains access to the information on the platters. Each platter consists of cylinders, tracks and sectors which help it store and fetch data.

 

How many Platters does a Hard Drive usually contain?

The quantity of platters on a hard drive usually depends on the physical size of the drive, its storage capacity and manufacturer quality. There really isn’t any fixed number of platters on any computer hard drive. Most modern hard drives have at least two or more platters. Some computers have an SSD (Solid-State-Drive), which is a different, more advanced storage drive that does not contain any platters.

platter damage

What are Platters Made of?

Most modern Hard Drive Platters are made of Glass. Older drives used to be made of materials like aluminium or ceramic, but as hard drive technology advanced, most manufacturers switched to glass platters. There are several reasons manufacturers started looking for alternatives to aluminium, like glass, glass composites and magnesium alloys. The following benefits can be observed from using glass platters:

Better Quality: The main reason manufacturers switched to glass was the superior quality of it. Glass platters are significantly smoother and flatter than aluminium platters.This affects how dependable a hard drive can be while also increasing file transfer rates.

Better Rigidity: Despite being the same weight as aluminium, glass platters are significantly more rigid than aluminium platters. This reduces the noise your computer’s hard drive makes while it is being used and also reduces the vibrations on high speed hard drives.

Thinner Platters: The enhanced rigidity of the glass platters means that they can be made thinner. These thinner platters also weigh less, reducing the total weight of the hard drive require lesser capacity spindle motors and also make room for an increased number of platters to be placed on the hard drive. This increases the speed at which data can be accessed from the platters, increasing the overall speed of your computer’s operation in the process.

Thermal Consistency: Aluminium expands as it heats up and while glass is capable of the same, it expands at a much slower rate. There are a few platters which consist of over 35,000 tracks and even the slightest of expansion can cause these tracks to move around faster. Hard drives have a servo mechanism that keeps control over the expansions and contractions. It is still preferable to use material that moves as less as possible to improve the efficiency of the hard drive.

Information has been obtain as cutesy from the following source: Data Analyzers Data Recovery and Wikipedia

How Does a Platter Based Hard Drive Work?

The data stored on your computer hard drive is made of magnetic patterns, stored in a thin media layer on the surface of the platters. The material that your platter is made up of is known as “substrate” which basically supports the layer of media.

 

Once a computer is turned on and being used, the platters start to spin along with read/write heads that are placed just above them. It is imperative that the surface of these platters be as smooth as possible. Older hard drives with slower spindles had plenty of fly height so the quality of the surface of the platters didn’t matter as much.

 

But as technology developed over time, the gap between the platter and the heads continued to decrease, therefore increasing the spin rate (which speeds up the file transfer process), calling for a level of consistency in the quality of the platter’s surface. This is one of the main reasons manufacturers switched to glass plattered hard drives.

 

Are there any disadvantages to Glass Platters?

Glass platters, while now considered the norm in modern hard drives do have their own disadvantages. For one, they’re far more fragile than Aluminium platters which means they have a tendency to get damaged if pushed too hard from the user trying to get better performance out of it. For this reason, manufacturers have been experimenting with other materials as well, like ceramic and some glass composites.

 

Eventually Phased Out

With the arrival of SSDs, the use of Hard Drives has started to decrease. Several modern laptops are sold with SSDs. These SSDs boast of significantly faster file transfer rates at the expense of storage space. They are also much smaller but as more and more developments are being made, higher capacity SSDs are being invented and installed onto computers.

 

Eventually, these SSDs will lead to Hard Drives being phased out as they are now considered obsolete compared to SSDs which are being looked upon as the storage devices of the future. SSDs are drives which do not use any platters so the manufacturing process of Hard Disk platters will also cease in a few years time.