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14. File Systems > Disks and Partitions

Disks and Partitions

Regular files and directories typically reside on hard disk devices. (Files and directories may also exist on other devices, such as CD-ROMs, flash memory cards, and virtual disks, but for the present discussion, we are interested primarily in hard disk devices.) In the following sections, we look at how disks are organized and divided into partitions.

Disk drives

A hard disk drive is a mechanical device consisting of one or more platters that rotate at high speed (of the order of thousands of revolutions per minute). Magnetically encoded information on the disk surface is retrieved or modified by read/write heads that move radially across the disk. Physically, information on the disk surface is located on a set of concentric circles called tracks. Tracks themselves are divided into a number of sectors, each of which consists of a series of physical blocks. Physical blocks are typically 512 bytes (or some multiple thereof) in size, and represent the smallest unit of information that the drive can read or write.


  

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