In-Depth #5: Sandbox Sally

It has been a very long time since my last post, and I can happily say a lot has happened. Being over halfway through the project I can begin to see computers in a different light, and its quite thrilling. Where I saw nothing but funny looking gadgets before, now I can see the possibilities and functionality of countless different components. One of the key contributing factors to this is Sandbox Sally.

Sally has been dubbed due to her purpose, with “Sandbox Mode” being a gamer term for a repeatable experimental environment. So I have done any and everything I could imagine with Sally to see what makes her tick. My mentor had already given me a working understanding for how most of the parts worked, but without being truly able to toy with them it made it difficult to properly comprehend it all.

Sandbox Sally

However, being able to properly toy with ram, heat sinks and, hard drives has really deepened my knowledge of computers. While experimenting I feel that I learned the most about the differences between hard drives. As of right now there are two types of hard drives HDD’s and SSD’s. Now a hard disk drive (HDD) is the older of the two, whereas a Solid State Drive (SSD) is the younger.

Now as mentioned a HDD is older, but currently is the cheaper of the two. Now in order to store information it relies on writing information to a spinning disk. Now ordinarily this is fast and effective, but once the drive begins to fill up it needs to write items in multiple different places. With each piece of data needing to take a physical space on it, as time goes on more space is filled up. Then files will need to be “fragmented” into multiple different positions so that they can fit. This is where the term “Defragging” your hard drive into play. Its role is to move files around so that as many as possible can be in the same place, making it quicker to read. However without frequent defrag’s the disk will need to spin increasingly high amounts, and will eventually break due to the strain.side-b

Now the SSD is the younger sibling, but is far quicker and more efficient than a HDD. While a HDD requires a spinning disk to read data, an SSD functions much more like a flash drive with countless flash cards in conjunction that are used to store data. Another benefit is that an SSD lacks a read head (similar to a record player) , which is another reason why its harder to damage an SSD. Now, currently each card used to store memory can only be written, wiped and re-written a limited number of times. Thus it is almost certain that you would need to replace one of these drives every five to six years. However when looked at a HDD you would only need to replace it if you had used it to the point where fragmentation occurs.


From here, I’ll be looking a bit into computer servers and how to do operating system installs. But for right now I’m looking to practice taking Sally apart and putting her back together so that I can be more comfortable when it comes to constructing a computer. I’m happy with where my project is at this time, and I find myself fascinated knowing where it will go from here.

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