What makes a hard drive ‘hard’?


Why would it be described like that? It’s not like SSDs or optical media are particularly soft.

In: Technology

Cause before you had floppy disks. Which, as the name inplies were floppy disks encased in a hard plastic box. Then came harddrives which are, you guessed it, harder disks.

It’s probably because, back then when it was designed, you’d have hard disk drives (which disks were/are “hard”) and portable, smaller disks called “floppy disks” (which became obsolete with and replaced by USB drives).

Those eventually became smaller and had a plastic casings which were hard but, originally, they didn’t and those disks were, as the name suggests, floppy.

Hard disk drives are hard when compared to floppy drives.

Of course the floppy drives most people remember will be the ​3 and 1⁄2-inch floppy disk which were encased in hard plastic.

However the older ​5 and 1⁄4 inch discs and even older 8 inch ones were indeed floppy and able to bend flex.

In general it has little to do with the drives as you handle them but the disks insides. Floppys and similar had flexible disks while HDDs have hard platters inside them.

If you ever opened up an old HDD you will have ended up with a broken drive and a cool magnet to play around with, but also some hard silvery looking disk that were stacked one over the other other inside the drive. These platters are what is meant when they say ‘hard’ compared to the floppy disc that you get when opening up the protective sleeve of a floppy disc.

Before optical media (CDs or DVDs) you had Floppy Disks, which were a flimsy piece of [plastic](https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7a/Image3%2C5%27%27-Diskette_removed.jpg) treated with iron oxide enclosed in a case.

Hard Disks are a several solid (hence the name ‘hard’ disk), circular sheets of [metal](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_disk_drive_platter#/media/File:Innansicht_Festplatte_512_MB_von_Quantum.jpg) “stacked” upon each other, however, much less portable that floppy disks, at that time.

A hdd is a magnetic data storage medium. It’s called ‘hard’, among other reasons I believe, because you need a very strong (hard) magnetic field to achieve magnetize reversal or to demagnetize

What others have said it’s basically right about floppy disks, however there is another factor…

The actual recording media for “floppy” disks (12″ flexible all the way down to 3 1/4 hard shelled disks) was a thin plastic sheet.

Hard disks use multiple metal disks.

So, the actual physical disks inside were either flexible or solid.

It’s to differentiate it from a floppy disc, which were the removable/portable storage medium of the time that hard drives first became common. The earliest ones from the 70’s/80’s were literally floppy because they were flimsy plastic. In the late 80’s/early 90’s, there was the rise of the smaller, rigid plastic discs. And then those faded away for CD-Rom and USB flash drives, internet file sharing, etc.

It comes from way back in history.

“Hard disk drives” and “floppy disk drives” were two different types of magnetic storage developed in the 1950s and 1960s – hard disks for storage in computers themselves, and floppy disks for portable storage.

For many years, floppy disks were literally floppy – they used a very thin plastic disk protected by a very thin plastic envelope, meaning that if you held one in your hand and wagged your hand back and forth, the disk would actually flop like a thick sheet of paper.

Floppy disks finally stopped being used in the early 2000s as thumb drives and flash memory cards like SD became popular and cheap. But there was no reason to stop calling hard disk drives “hard disk drives”, because by that point they had already been called that since before most people were even *born*.