Western Digital have been testing something fairly peculiar recently; Using Helium in Hard Disk Drives in order to reduce drag and increase storage size. It seems like their idea actually works too which would certainly be favourable to services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box who offer to keep your information safe in “The Cloud”.
Storage isn’t as expensive as it used to be, you can get a decent 1 Terrabyte hard drive for around £50 today, but it looks like everyone’s looking to the clouds for their storage and backup solutions. It also seems as if Western Digital have been too with the recent addition of Helium in their hard drives if today’s announcement is anything to go by.
If you were coming here to see if they’re building floating hard drives so your data is literally in the clouds.. that’s not happening, though that would be pretty cool. No – the use of Helium is to reduce drag that’s caused by the disk platters spinning and the hard drive head moving back and forth at such rapid speeds.
Helium is the “second most abundant element in the observable universe” according to Wikipedia, what that means is that there’s not a lot to it hence why it makes balloons float and why it’s easier for the components inside a HDD to move around without becoming volatile.
So how does this benefit us? Well we’ve already ruled out floating hard drives in the sky so lets look at a more practical use. Less drag means more disk platters can be packed into a standard hard drive that means more memory and for companies like Dropbox, more space to fill with more hard drives that take up less power and in return will offer us cheaper storage plans.
According to All Things Digital some big names have already been mentioned in the press release which is set to be released later today:
“Packard is qualifying them for use in its servers. Netflix is trying them out in its movie-streaming infrastructure. Huawei, the Chinese networking and IT gear maker, is trying them out. CERN — the European Organization for Nuclear Research, a.k.a. the birthplace of the Web — is also trying them out.”
We’ll of course always have our fingers crossed for floating servers in the sky, but until then just be thankful that in a few years time you may be able to purchase Helium filled hard drives at a very affordable price!