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When you save data or install programs on your computer, the information is typically written to your hard disk. The hard disk is a spindle of magnetic disks, called platters, that record and store information. Because the data is stored magnetically, information recorded to the hard disk remains intact after you turn your computer off. This is an important distinction between the hard disk and RAM, or memory, which is reset when the computers power is turned off.
The hard disk is housed inside the hard drive, which reads and writes data to the disk. The hard drive also transmits data back and forth between the CPU and the disk. When you save data on your hard disk, the hard drive has to write thousands, if not millions, of ones and zeros to the hard disk. It is an amazing process to think about, but may also be a good incentive to keep a backup of your data.