Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Hard Disks Work

Inside: Electronics Board

The best way to understand how a hard disk works is to take a look inside. (Note that OPENING A HARD DISK RUINS IT, so this is not something to try at home unless you have a defunct drive.)

Here is a typical hard-disk drive:

­It is a sealed aluminum box with controller electronics attached to one side. The electronics control the read/write mechanism and the motor that spins the platters. The electronics also assemble the magnetic domains on the drive into bytes (reading) and turn bytes into magnetic domains (writing). The electronics are all contained on a small board that detaches from the rest of the drive: