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This chapter is from the book

FRIDAY: MARCH 3, 2006

THIS WEEK’S FOCUS: Upgrading Your PC

UPGRADING YOUR HARD DISK

When you go shopping for a new hard drive, you need to understand the relevant specifications in order to make an informed buying decision—and get the right hard drive for your system. This information, typically available somewhere on the drive’s packaging, tells you how much data the disk can hold and how fast it can access that data. Here are the important specs:

  • Capacity—Disk drive size is typically measured in gigabytes (GB). The bigger the drive, the higher the price.

  • Access time—This is the amount of time it takes for the heads to locate a specific piece of data on the hard drive. Manufacturers typically specify the "average access time," because the actual seek time varies depending on the location of the heads and where the next bit of data is stored.

  • Spin and data transfer rates—The spin rate spec measures the speed at which the platters spin, in revolutions per minute (RPM); faster is better. The data transfer rate is the speed at which the system copies data from the hard drive to your computer.

  • Drive interface type—Several different interfaces are available that control the communication between your hard drive to your PC. The two primary interfaces in use today are ATA (sometimes called IDE) and SCSI; ATA is more popular and lower-priced, while SCSI is a tad faster.

ON THIS DAY: FIRST MEETING OF THE HOMEBREW COMPUTER CLUB

On March 3, 1975, the Homebrew Computer Club held its first meeting in a garage in Menlo Park, California. Founders Fred Moore and Gordon French hosted about 30 fellow hobbyists, who spent their first meeting discussing the Altair kit computer.

WEBSITE OF THE WEEK: TOM’S HARDWARE GUIDE

When you’re talking PC hardware, your first stop should be Tom’s Hardware Guide, the premiere site for all manner of hardware news and reviews. If Tom can’t answer your questions, you’re out of luck! Check it out at http://www.tomshardware.com.

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