On magnetic disks, data is encoded as microscopic magnetized needles on the disk's surface. You can record and erase data on a magnetic disk any number of times, just as you can with a cassette tape. Magnetic disks come in a number of different forms:
Optical disks record data by burning microscopic holes in the surface of the disk with a laser. To read the disk, another laser beam shines on the disk and detects the holes by changes in the reflection pattern.
Optical disks come in three basic forms:
The machine that spins a disk is called a disk drive. Within each disk drive is one or more heads (often called read/write heads) that actually read and write data.
Accessing data from a disk is not as fast as accessing data from main memory, but disks are much cheaper. And unlike RAM, disks hold on to data even when the computer is turned off. Consequently, disks are the storage medium of choice for most types of data. Another storage medium is magnetic tape. But tapes are used only for backup and archiving because they are sequential-access devices (to access data in the middle of a tape, the tape drive must pass through all the preceding data).
A new disk, called a blank disk, has no data on it. Before you can store data on a blank disk, however, you must format it.
Stay up to date on the latest developments in Internet terminology with a free weekly newsletter from Webopedia. Join to subscribe now.
Like everything in technology, AI touches on so many other trends, like self-driving cars and automation, and Big Data and the Internet of Things... Read More »DevOp's Role in Application Security
As organizations rush to release new applications, security appears to be getting short shrift. DevSecOps is a new approach that holds promise. Read More »Slideshow: Easy Editorial SEO Tips to Boost Traffic
This slideshow reviews five easy on-page editorial SEO tips to help drive organic search engine traffic, including the page title, heading,... Read More »
Java is a high-level programming language. This guide describes the basics of Java, providing an overview of syntax, variables, data types and... Read More »Java Basics, Part 2
This second Study Guide describes the basics of Java, providing an overview of operators, modifiers and control Structures. Read More »The 7 Layers of the OSI Model
The Open System Interconnection (OSI) model defines a networking framework to implement protocols in seven layers. Use this handy guide to compare... Read More »