A hard disk drive (HDD), commonly referred to as a hard drive, hard disk or fixed disk drive, is a non-volatile storage device which stores digitally encoded data on rapidly rotating platters with magnetic surfaces. Strictly speaking, "drive" refers to a device distinct from its medium, such as a tape drive and its tape, or a floppy disk drive and its floppy disk. Early HDDs had removable media; however, an HDD today is typically a sealed unit (except for a filtered vent hole to equalize air pressure) with fixed media.
A HDD is a rigid-disk drive, although it is probably never referred to as such. By way of comparison, a so-called "floppy" drive (more formally, a diskette drive) has a disc that is flexible. Originally, the term "hard" was temporary slang, substituting "hard" for "rigid", before these drives had an established and universally-agreed-upon name. Some time ago, IBM's internal company term for an HDD was "file".
HDDs (introduced in 1956 as data storage for an IBM accounting computer) were originally developed for use with computers, see History of hard disk drives.
In the 21st century, applications for HDDs have expanded beyond computers to include digital video recorders, digital audio players, personal digital assistants, digital cameras and video game consoles. In 2005 the first mobile phones to include HDDs were introduced by Samsung and Nokia. The need for large-scale, reliable storage, independent of a particular device, led to the introduction of configurations such as RAID arrays, network attached storage (NAS) systems and storage area network (SAN) systems that provide efficient and reliable access to large volumes of data.
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