Data Recovery Blog

4 Hard Drive Parts That Every Computer User Should Know

Most computer users don’t really know much about how hard drives work. When I did phone tech support for a data recovery company (, we’d have plenty of customers who thought that a hard drive read information in essentially the same way as a record player plays music. They were surprised when we explained that the heads transmit a magnetic charge and never actually come into contact with the platters.

If that sounds Greek to you, you aren’t alone. However, while you don’t have to know all the technical stuff, it’s a good idea to know a few of the basic parts of an HD and how they function to read and write data. The info can be extremely useful when you’re talking with experts at a data recovery company.

The Heads -Every hard drive uses a set of read/write heads to access data. The heads are tiny and sit at the end of a large arm which goes all over the data-storing platters. However, they never actually come into contact with the platters, even though they’re less than a micron away.

The Platters - Platters store data. They’re usually made of metal or plastic with a sheet of magnetic material. The material stores charges, which can be read by the heads later.

The platters rotate under the heads at speeds of no less than 4800 RPM.

The Spindle - is what spins the platters under the heads. It’s made of metal and works mechanically, so eventually it will fail (this mechanical component of your hard drive is one of the biggest reasons to back up your data on a regular basis).

The Electronics Board - The PCB board of a hard drive interfaces with your computer and tells the heads where to go. Electronics boards are often unit-specific, so the PCB from one hard drive might not work in another hard drive.

This post might have seemed pretty basic, but it’s good to brush up on terms every once in a while. It’ll make it much easier to talk with a data recovery company or to learn when & why data recovery software works.