IBM lands on Park Place

IBM lands on Park Place

In the 1980s, early PC users had to park their hard drives before they could power down. Drive parking, which went by the wayside in recent years, is making a comeback'at least during a crisis.

IBM Corp.'s new HDAPS, standing for hard drive active protection system, claims to prevent damage to data stored on notebook PCs during a sudden shock.

The HDAPS hardware interface is a sensor mounted on the motherboard. IBM calls it an accelerometer, but it also functions as a gyroscope to monitor the orientation of the notebook as well as its speed, for example, in an accidental drop.

The software portion of HDAPS interprets the data coming from the sensor. The user can pull up a window and watch a rendered image of the notebook while tilting it at sharp angles.

When the software discerns a damaging situation, such as a fall, it immediately and automatically parks the hard drive. That prevents misalignment that could cause data loss. After the tilting ceases, the hard drive is unparked.

Even if the notebook were severely damaged in a fall, the data on the hard drive should survive. IBM gives no guarantees but, like a seatbelt, HDAPS increases survivability.

In a demo for the GCN Lab, HDAPS could tell the difference between a drop and a repetitive motion, such as a train's rocking motion. If the ride were rough enough to cause inconvenient drive parking, we could disable HDAPS from the Microsoft Windows XP control panel.

HDAPS is available now in some IBM notebooks and will likely spread through the entire notebook line soon. So, although it's still bad to drop your notebook, HDAPS provides a safety net.

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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