For the past few years, we have seen a significant portion of our data storage move to the cloud. When it comes to physical hard drives, spinning disk hard drives are rapidly being replaced by flash storage. Some would assert that storage icons have not aged particularly well given the circumstances.
Nevertheless, ever since the original OS X hard drive icons were designed, this category of icons has been a touchstone for icon design practitioners. Whether designing a custom application icon, a commercial disk image or making a custom icon to distinguish one's personal drives, hard drive icons have been a prime area for designers to display their skill in both technical execution and creativity.
This post is hardly exhaustive. I have selected only a fraction of the incredible icons that community members have designed over the years.
Drives Inspired by Apple Hardware
Beginning in the early 2000s, designers began taking inspiration from Apple's hardware industrial design for the design of custom HD icons. On the far left is a drive from Henri Liriani's Zvend icon set (2006). The second icon from the left comes from Sascha Höhne's Minium icon set (2005). The two rightmost icons are from the G5 Drives set by Iconfactory designer Dave Brasgalla. He also included a custom drive which took inspiration from the then recently released Matrix films.
In 2008, the now-retired icon designer, Jonas Rask produced the Pry Hardware icon set. The rightmost icon references the Apple Airport hardware.
Similar to Rask, Louie Mantia made Ive Drives (2009) and Ive Drives 2 (2012), paying homage to the Airport as well as the first and second generation Apple TVs.
For PodDrives (2009) and Blend (2007) Laurent Baumann referenced the original iPhone hardware and the Apple remote.
Philipp Antoni's Anstat set was designed between 2006 and 2008, and was released much later, in 2012. Anstat was an idealized take on the Mac system icons.
Bach Nguyen, otherwise known as Shiizun, referenced the unibody MacBook Pro in his 2009 UniDrive icon set. Using the same source material as Nguyen, Joy-Vincent Niemantsverdriet designed his Alumi set in 2010.
Hard Drive Internals
I asked Buzz Anderson who was responsible for the PodWorks icon, and it turns out that it was none other than Dave Brasgalla of The Iconfactory in 2002.
In my search to determine who made the accordion-like Expandrive icon, I came up with nothing. I decided to phone Jeff Mancuso of Expandrive to see if he could shed any light as to its origins. Mancuso had hired Jordan Langilleo of OneToad Design to design the icon in 2008.
Rick Patrick intricately designed the HDRV+ set with 131 variants.
Peel and Bite
This inspired Pranav Pramod to render Baumann's rejected sketch (2011).
In 2012, I created the ByteDrive icon, paying homage to the CandyBar icon. The following is a process GIF:
This brings us to OS X Yosemite's hard drive. Unlike previous metal and plastic drives, today's are made entirely of wax. These details matter, or at least they used to.