Working of Magnetic Disk with its Diagram | Magnetic Disk Structure

Hi Learner! Today, here we are going to explain about working of magnetic disk with diagram as well as magnetic structure in OS with ease. After completing this article, we make ensure that you will definitely completely aware about Magnetic Disk Working Structure without getting any Obstacle.

Introduction to Magnetic Disk

Magnetic disks are a type of secondary storage device that are using in computers to store large amounts of data. They have name ‘magnetic disks’ because data stores on them by magnetizing tiny areas on the surface of the disk.


Magnetic disks consist of a rotating platter made of a magnetic material such as iron oxide, cobalt, or nickel. They get coated with a thin layer of magnetic material. Data allows to store on the disk in the form of magnetic patterns. The read/write head, which mounted on an arm, reads. It helps to write data to the disk by changing the magnetic state of the material.

‘Magnetic Disk Working’ Tutorial Headlines:

In this section, we will show you all headlines about this entire article. You can check them as your choice; below shown all:

  1. Introduction to Magnetic Disk
  2. How Does Magnetic Disk Work?
  3. Working Principle of Magnetic Disk
  4. Accessing Data on the Magnetic disk
  5. Magnetic Disk Structure in OS
  6. FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
  • What are the components of a magnetic disk?
  • How can magnetic disks be maintained?
  • How does a computer access data stored on a magnetic disk?
  • How are magnetic disks different from solid-state drives (SSDs)?
  • How can data be securely erased from a magnetic disk?

Let’s Get Started!!

How Does Magnetic Disk Work?

Magnetic disks are a type of storage device that store data using magnetic patterns on a rotating disk. Here’s a general overview of working mechanism of magnetic disk, as following them:

Also Read: What is Magnetic Disk? Example and Types of Magnetic Disks!!


  1. Magnetic disks typically made up of several circular platters that coated with a magnetic material. The platters mounted on a spindle that rotates at a constant speed.
  1. The data stores on the platters in the form of magnetic patterns. These patterns created by the read/write head. They are small electromagnet that sits just above the surface of the platter.
  1. When data written to the disk, the read/write head generates a magnetic field. Then, it aligns the magnetic particles on the surface of the platter in a specific pattern. This pattern represents the binary data.
  1. To read data from the disk, the read/write head moves to the correct position over the platter. The head then detects the magnetic field and translates it into the binary data that previously stored.
  1. Magnetic disks use various techniques to increase storage capacity, such as using multiple platters, increasing the density of the magnetic patterns, and reducing the size of the read/write head.

Overall, magnetic disks provide a reliable and cost-effective way to store large amounts of data. They are commonly using in desktop and laptop computers, as well as servers and other high-capacity storage system.

Working Principle of Magnetic Disk

Magnetic disks are the storage device that use magnetism to store and retrieve data. They consist of a stack of rotating disks coated with a magnetic material. They have also read/write heads positioned above and below the disks to read and write data.

Also Read: Advantages and Disadvantages of Magnetic Disks | Characteristics & Features

The general basic working principle of magnetic disks can brake down into the following steps:

  • The data converts into a series of 1’s and 0’s, also known as binary code.
  • The binary code get send to the disk controller, which coordinates the movement of the read/write heads and the rotation of the disks.
  • The disk controller sends a signal to the read/write heads to position them over the correct track on the disk.
  • When the heads are in position, they use a magnetic field to change the polarity of the magnetic material on the disk, either to represent a 1 or a 0.
  • To read the data, the read/write heads sense the magnetic field on the disk and convert it back into binary code.
  • The binary code moves back to the computer and processed as needed.

This process will repeat for every piece of data that stored or retrieved from the disk. The speed of the disk can determine by the rotation speed of the disks and the speed at which the read/write heads can move and read data. Magnetic disks are commonly using in hard disk drives (HDDs) and some older computer systems.

Accessing Data on the Magnetic disk

Accessing data on a magnetic disk involves several steps, including locating the data on the disk and reading it. Here are the basic steps:

Also Read: Optical Storage Devices: Examples, Types, Advantages, & Disadvantages!!

The magnetic disk divided into tracks, which further will divide into sectors. Each sector contains a fixed amount of data.

When a request fires to access a particular file or piece of data, the operating system uses the file system to locate the file on the disk. The file system keeps track of the location of each file on the disk.

Once the file’s location determined, the disk’s read/write head will move to the appropriate track.

The read/write head then waits for the correct sector to pass under it as the disk spins. When the correct sector is under the head, the head reads the data from the sector.

The read data is then sent to the computer’s memory for processing.

When the computer is done with the data, the write process begins. The write process is similar to the read process, but the head writes data to the appropriate sector instead of reading from it.

Once the data is written, it is saved on the disk until it is needed again.

Hence, accessing data on a magnetic disk involves a complex interplay between the file system, the read/write head, and the spinning disk. However, modern hard drives have become extremely fast and efficient at accessing data, making them a reliable and popular choice for storing large amounts of data.

Magnetic Disk Structure in OS

In modern operating systems, magnetic disks typically organizes into a hierarchical structure consisting of one or more disk partitions, each of which contains one or more file systems. The basic unit of storage on a disk is a sector, which is typically 512 bytes or 4KB in size.

Also Read: Magnetic Storage Devices: Examples and Types | Advantages & Disadvantages

The file system is responsible for organizing files and directories on the disk. Each file system has its own structure for organizing files, directories, and metadata (such as file permissions and timestamps), but most modern file systems use a tree-like structure in which files and directories get organize into a hierarchy.

At the lowest level of the disk structure, the disk is divided into tracks and sectors. The disk controller manages access to the disk, using a disk driver to interface with the hardware. The disk driver translates disk read and write requests from the operating system into low-level commands that the disk controller can execute.

The file system layer provides a logical view of the disk that abstracts away the physical details of the disk layout. This system organizes files and directories into a hierarchy of directories, which may contain files or additional subdirectories. The file system maintains metadata about each file and directory, including its name, size, ownership, permissions, and timestamps.

To optimize performance, modern file systems use a variety of techniques such as caching frequently accessed data, delaying writes to the disk until a certain threshold get reach, and defragmenting the disk to reduce fragmentation of files.

In addition to organizing files and directories, the file system also manages free space on the disk. When a file deletes, the file system marks the space it occupied as free, allowing it to reuse for new files. However, if the file system becomes fragmented, with files scattered throughout the disk, it can become more difficult to find contiguous blocks of free space to allocate to new files.

To address this issue, file systems typically include a defragmentation tool that can reorganize files on the disk to reduce fragmentation and improve performance. Defragmentation works by moving fragmented files to contiguous blocks of free space, allowing them to read or written more quickly.

Another important aspect of magnetic disk structure is disk caching. Caching involves storing frequently accessed data in a faster, more accessible location such as memory or solid-state storage. This can help to reduce disk access times and improve overall system performance.

Operating systems typically provide a variety of caching mechanisms to improve disk performance, such as read-ahead caching, which reads data from the disk into memory before it requested by an application, and write-behind caching, which delays writes to the disk until the system is idle to reduce the impact on overall system performance.

Overall, the magnetic disk structure in modern operating systems is a complex and highly optimized system that includes a variety of techniques and mechanisms to improve performance and reliability. Understanding how the disk gets structure and how the file system manages data on the disk is essential for building efficient and reliable software that works seamlessly with the operating system.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What are the components of a magnetic disk?

The components of a magnetic disk include the disk platters, the read/write heads, the actuator arm, the spindle motor, and the controller board. The disk platters are the spinning disks coated with magnetic material.

The read/write heads mounted on an armature that moves across the disk platters to read or write data. The actuator arm moves the read/write heads, and the spindle motor spins the disk platters.

The controller board controls the movement of the armature and the motor, as well as the communication between the disk and the computer.

How can magnetic disks be maintained?

To maintain a magnetic disk, it is important to avoid physical damage and to protect the disk from magnetic interference. Regular backups should make to prevent data loss, and the disk should keep free of dust and debris. Running regular disk checks and defragmentation can also help to ensure the disk is functioning optimally.

How does a computer access data stored on a magnetic disk?

A computer accesses data stored on a magnetic disk by sending requests to the controller board, which then directs the read/write heads to the correct location on the disk platters. The read/write heads use a magnetic field to read or write the data stored on the disk platters, and the controller board converts the magnetic signals into digital data that can process by the computer system.

How are magnetic disks different from solid-state drives (SSDs)?

Magnetic disks and solid-state drives (SSDs) are both types of storage devices, but they work in fundamentally different ways. Magnetic disks use spinning disks and magnetic fields to store and retrieve data, while SSDs use flash memory chips to store data. SSDs are generally faster and more reliable than magnetic disks, but they are also more expensive.

How can data be securely erased from a magnetic disk?

Data can securely erase from a magnetic disk by using software tools that overwrite the magnetic patterns on the disk multiple times. This process ensures that the original data is irretrievable, even by advanced data recovery techniques. Physical destruction of the disk is also a reliable way to ensure that the data cannot recover.

Final Words

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Also Read: Storage Devices: Examples, Functions, Uses, & Types of Storage Devices!!

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