A computer disk is a plate on which data is encoded. There are two ways to encode data: magnetically and optically. Magnetic disks store information through magnetized needles. These needles flip tiny magnetized switches on the disk into patterns that a computer recognizes. The advantage of magnetic disks is versatility – you can record and erase data as many times as you want. Floppy disks are small, portable, and provide limited storage capacity. A hard disk, which can hold much more information than a floppy disk, is usually built into your computer. Finally, the removable cartridge, which is essentially a removable hard disk enclosed in metal or plastic, can be accessed faster than floppy disks. Data can also be recorded optically by creating tiny holes in the surface of the disk with lasers. Another laser then reads the information. Optical disks are available in three different types: CD-ROM, WORM, and erasable optical disks. CD-ROMs are disks which have information already encoded on them. This data can only be read. It can't be erased and written over. WORM is an acronym standing for 'write once, read many.' Predictably, you can only record data once on the WORM disk. Erasable optical disks, such as re-writable compact disks, are similar to their magnetic cousins in that you can write, read, erase, and write again as many times as you like. For more information, consult a computer expert.
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