I’ve often considered how rare it is to find an IT department that takes management of storage media as seriously as it should. Ultimately, the media on which data is written and read has seen the same dramatic and revolutionary advancement as has the rest of computer and software technology, but this core item is often overlooked by the industry. In early computing, floppy drives evolved from the 8 inch giants to 3.5 inch “micro-discs” and finally to obsolescence as optical storage and flash drives provided better mobile options.
It was, however, the introduction of the hard disk drive that really allowed for the computer revolution. This little stack of platters on a flywheel spool with head after head reading and writing is really a miraculous bit of technology. When you stop and consider for a moment that the speed of a hard drive is measured in milliseconds — 1000ths of a second — you can get an idea about how remarkable the device really is. Today, we take for granted the speed of disk operations, but we should stop for a moment and consider the real advantages the technology has delivered.
Storage capacity is one such advantage. Throughout the 1980s, hard disk drives grew in capacity by about 25 percent per year. In the 1990s, capacity grew at about 60 percent per year, and by 1999 capacity grew at a rate of 130 percent per year. Now, these components double in capacity every nine months. By contrast, processors double in processing speed about every eighteen months. Although at some point, the actual limitation of space will slow the continued capacity increase, for now storage technology advances faster than the rest.
What does that mean to individuals and IT departments? Perhaps most critically, it means that your hard disks are very likely to be more advanced than any of the other components in your desktops and servers. This can lead to dramatic slowdowns in efficiency without appropriate instructions to the hard drive and the rest of the computer. (For example, the brilliant partitioning method in advanced format hard drives actually causes all but the most recent Windows systems to perform redundant read/write operations — unfortunately, you get a slowdown instead of speed up! see Paragon’s white paper and solution description regarding this phenomenon)
One of the software products we’ve developed at Paragon Software is “Hard Disk Manager 11″ or HDM 11. It’s designed to allow for an IT professional to focus on the technology from the perspective of increasing the performance of the machine. (And of course, protecting data — we’re Paragon after all.) It has advanced defragmentation techniques, partition management, and several levels of data elimination security. As technology continues to increase, it’s the hard disk that’s outpacing all else. It’s about time we focus on the hard drive!