Home : Hardware Terms : Disk Drive Definition

Disk Drive

A disk drive is a device that reads and/or writes data to a disk. The most common type of disk drive is a hard drive (or "hard disk drive"), but several other types of disk drives exist as well. Some examples include removable storage devices, floppy drives, and optical drives, which read optical media, such as CDs and DVDs.

While there are multiple types of disk drives, they all work in a similar fashion. Each drive operates by spinning a disk and reading data from it using a small component called a drive head. Hard drives and removable disk drives use a magnetic head, while optical drives use a laser. CD and DVD burners include a high-powered laser that can imprint data onto discs.

Since hard drives are now available in such large capacities, there is little need for removable disk drives. Instead of expanding a system's storage capacity with removable media, most people now use external hard drives instead. While CD and DVD drives are still common, they have become less used since software, movies, and music can now often be downloaded from the Internet. Therefore, internal hard drives and external hard drives are the most common types of disk drives used today.

Updated: September 14, 2010

Cite this definition:


TechTerms - The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

This page contains a technical definition of Disk Drive. It explains in computing terminology what Disk Drive means and is one of many hardware terms in the TechTerms dictionary.

All definitions on the TechTerms website are written to be technically accurate but also easy to understand. If you find this Disk Drive definition to be helpful, you can reference it using the citation links above. If you think a term should be updated or added to the TechTerms dictionary, please email TechTerms!

Subscribe to the TechTerms Newsletter to get featured terms and quizzes right in your inbox. You can choose to receive either a daily or weekly email.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe at any time.
Questions? Please contact us.