Photo: Waterlogged

Waterlogged — a hard disk platter and arm, dotted with raindrops

The hard drive that never was. Waterlogged is two years old, coming on the heels of Raindrops, but a classic nonetheless. This was the hard drive from my first computer, a budget desktop I got in 2000 (I was 9 then). In February of 2005 it failed, and I’d just left it sitting around till June of 2006 when I cracked the case open (harder than you’d think) and took this shot. The drive is a Seagate ST34311A. I was walking around the yard positioning it as a mirror, creating interesting compositions (Blend In is another), when it started raining. The hard drive got wet, and that inspired this photo. The platters make quite a mirror, making the reflections in the drops quite sharp. After drying, the mirror was covered with spots and dust I never could get off, unfortunately.

Don’t ever open your computer’s hard drive, unless it’s broke and you’ve backed up your data, or you have no hope of recovering it. The read/write head you see in the picture hovers on a cushion of air one-tenth the thickness of a hair, produced by the velocity of the spinning disk(s) (7200RPM is common now). Even a speck of dust on the platter can mess up the drive and destroy your data. Hard drives are really fragile, and generally a bad way to save information, but they’re still the best thing we have to store a lot of changing data, cheaply and quickly. Back up your pictures to CDs or DVDs too, as they’re more stable.

Many hard drives have multiple platters (two to five), but this has just one. I found out the disks aren’t thick (slightly thinner than a CD, though very rigid), and they’re double sided. Underneath is another head that moves in tandem with the top one, reading and writing data to the underside. I still have pieces of this drive scattered around the house somewhere.

My finger sneaked into the frame on the top-right, darn it. Had to clone it out in Photoshop. Same for the bright edge at the bottom-left, and the silver bolt at the top, because they were too distracting. I converted to black and white and added a good bit of contrast, making the image more appealing.
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Fujifilm FinePix A360, 1/139, F2.81, 5.8mm, ISO64, 2006-06-25T19:03:53-04, 2006-06-25_19h03m53

Location: Thripp Residence, Ormond Beach, FL  32174-7227

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Please credit me as “Photo by Richard Thripp” or something similar.