Inquiry: My external hard drive fell to the floor while my computer was playing a music file from that drive. The music kept playing without skipping. Why is this?

Response: Remember there is a cache in the computer’s memory, so even if the drive skips (or needs to be automatically parked when sensing too much turbulence) the computer could keep playing some music from the memory chips. Some systems will “read ahead” to minimize drive access. So, the drive could actually have been parked at the time it fell. Some drives have motion sensors to automatically park the drive in the event it gets bumped or drops. The iPod and similar mobile media devices with hard drives will “read ahead” so as to conserve battery power and avoid damage to the hard drive. When manually skipping around to different songs, the computer isn’t able to “read ahead” because it doesn’t know what song is next.

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