Mechanical hard drives consist of several moving parts. These parts include a spindle motor, platters, and an actuator arm. Your data are written onto the platters which rotate at very high speeds powered by the spindle motor. As the platters rotate, the actuator arm moves above the surface of the platters and reads and writes new information onto the magnetically sensitive surface of the platters.
It is very obvious that hard drives are fragile things with all of these moving parts. It is okay for internal hard drives to have a relatively low tolerance for things like external vibration and sudden shocks because they spend most of their in a stationary position. However, mobile hard drives or laptop hard drives must be able to tolerate a wide range shakes, bumps, and shocks.
Manufacturers have devised a few ways of dealing with these external factors. For example, one common technique is to move the actuator arm away from the platters if the hard drive detects sudden acceleration or deceleration. In theory, this will prevent the access arm from crashing onto the surface of the platter and damaging the very thin magnetic coating. If the arm makes direct physical contact with the ferromagnetic surface, you could end up with permanent data loss. Another way manufacturers make hard drives more portable is to make the access arm stiffer. This also reduces the likelihood that the magnetic service will be damaged.
The French external drive manufacturer, LaCie, makes a line of very durable and stylish portable hard drives. The LaCie Rugged All-Terrain drives have a case made of scratch resistant aluminum. The aluminum shell is further protected by shocking serving rubber bumper. The aluminum case and rubber padding will protect the delicate hard drive from drops of about 3 feet if the drive is a non-operating mode. Its shock resistance will go down if the drive is operating. This line of drives comes in a wide range of capacities including 1TB hard drives.
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