Hard drives and sponges

Platters need more flare!

Hard drives are the under-appreciated workhorses of a standard PC configuration.

Their disks whiz around at breakneck revolutions, heads cushioned by mere molecules of air as they skim over shiny surfaces during feverish read/write operations to store volumes of data to increasingly insatiable users who are all but completely oblivious of their existence — pausing only to curse them when they get busy, fragmented, or full.

They’re never fast or big enough.

And when they do break, oh! When hard drives fail, all hell breaks loose because not only is there downtime until a replacement is installed — no, there is downtime coupled with loss of data that just never seems to want to get backed up often enough.

Whereas in previous years backups were made on floppy or tape and then on optical media, it seems we’ve reverted to using external hard drives to make backups of the workhorse hard drive in your workstation because they’re cheap. They’re ubiquitous.

They’ve become so commonplace, so portable, so robust that you can fit terabytes of data into a shirt pocket. The “only” remaining PC component with moving parts, hard drives are little short of technical engineering marvels.

In fact, we never realise that even this mythical “Cloud” we so blindly trust consists of nothing but redundant arrays of inexpensive hard disks.

What happens online, stays online -- namely right here!

Some, of course, are better than others. The drives that have gone faulty on me were usually by Western Digital while I’ve gotten excellent mileage out of Conner drives. Kalok were utter rubbish. I’m neutral about Seagate, Hitachi, Samsung and Maxtor thus far, and terribly fond of the sound Fujitsu drives make.

The other day I discovered some old documents and specifications about hard drives as well as a bunch of real hard drives in the basement.

Most still function but… well, I’ve got USB sticks with larger capacities.

What I also discovered was this promotional goodie by Stac Electronics (makers of that horrid “Stacker” realtime compression TSR utility) that I picked up at the Computer Faire in the early 90’s.

Just add water

Yes, it’s a sponge. I was told it’ll grow to its normal size when wet.

Now is as good a time as any to test the claim.

Disclaimer: Adding water to a hard drive may void its warranty

Finally! I’ve carried this stupid thing around for well over twenty years.

Now is also the time to throw out some trash.

Here’s a page of tales and photos about seven workhorses getting slaughtered.

Do with this as thou wilt.

All photos by hmvh DOT net except Internet Archive “Petabox” by Jason Scott

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