Help Me Choose: Primary Storage

Primary storage is where the operating system, software applications, files and data are stored on a PC. In the past, primary storage was only offered in the form of hard drives. However, Dell now offers solid-state disk drives (or SSD) on most Dell Latitude and all Dell Precision mobile systems.
HDD single viewssd single view
Traditional hard drives (left) and a solid-state drive (right)

The following factors should be considered when deciding on the type of storage option that will best meet your needs. 

Primary Storage Decision Factors

  • Performance: System performance and boot time are influenced by the type of storage you select.
    • Solid-State Drives (or SSDs): Solid-state drives have no moving parts, so their speed is not measured in revolutions per minute (RPM). SSDs provide an outstanding overall level of storage performance. The latest generations of SSDs have end-user performance improvements on Windows 7 of up to 16 percent over a standard 7200 rpm hard disk drive and up to 23 percent over the base 5400 rpm hard disk drive.*
    • Hard Disk Drives (or HDDs): For magnetic hard drives, the speed of the drive, measured in RPM, indicates the performance of the drive. Generally speaking, a higher RPM means higher performance.
  • Durability: Solid-state drives — with no moving parts — have the highest durability with up to 15 times more shock and impact resistance than the standard desktop hard drives.* Hard drives have moving parts, which makes them more vulnerable to certain impacts, vibrations and other movements that can lead to drive failure and potential data loss. Dell Latitude systems have Free Fall Sensing technology on the system to help prevent data loss in the event of system shock. Solid-state drives will further reduce the risk of failure.
  • Data Security: Data loss is always a concern. Sensitive data such as customer information, financial records and medical history can be better protected by encryption. Dell recommends using a hardware-based encryption solution, like a self-encrypting disk (SED) hard drive, to avoid a negative impact on the performance of your system. Dell offers the 250GB Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS)-certified self-encrypting 7200 rpm drive, which meets the security requirements of the U.S. Government's FIPS 140-2 Level 2 Certification, for robust data security.
Secure Data Backup Feature: Duplicating or backing up your data regularly is always recommended. You can back up internally on a second hard drive or on an external hard drive. Latitude E-Family laptops and Dell Precision mobile platforms have a feature to enable periodic backup functionality to a secondary hard drive using Intel® Rapid Storage Technology (IRST). You can benefit from this feature by customizing the secondary hard drive backup functionality and frequency using software application. Secondary hard drives can include any external drive connected to the system or port replicator via external Serial ATA (eSATA) connector (external secondary hard drive options). The secondary hard drive must possess equal or greater capacity than the primary system hard drive to take advantage of the functionality.
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Inside of a traditional hard drive (left) and a solid-state drive, which has no moving parts (right)

Traditional hard drives have highly sophisticated head, platter and motor technology, which are sensitive to shock, vibration and thermals, and can make the drives susceptible to failure or damage from bumps and drops that can occur with a mobile device.

SSDs have no moving parts, which reduces the potential for damage or failure and provides the peace of mind that your data is protected. SSDs are the most durable, reliable choice for storage. For mobile users, the potential benefits are significant:

  • Up to 23 percent improved system performance over 5400 rpm hard drives*
  • Protection from bumps and drops, with 15 times the shock tolerance over standard notebook hard drives*
  • Less downtime with up to double the predicted reliability of standard notebook HDDs*
  • Virtually silent
  • Lightweight and cooler than standard hard drives
Primary Storage
Dell provides two lines of SSDs in our business-class laptops and mobile workstations: the Mobility SSD and the Encrypted Mobility SSD.

Mobility SSD is for customers who want the peace of mind that comes from having a highly reliable, durable storage system with extreme performance. The Mobility SSD is Dell’s highest performing notebook HDD, outperforming the previous generation of Dell ultraperformance SSD drives.*

Encrypted Mobility SSD is for customers who want the security and manageability that comes with factory-installed self-encrypting disk (SED) encryption, as well as having a highly reliable, durable storage system with extreme performance. A complete data protection solution requires more than just encryption; authentication, access control and recovery are all required elements. Wave EMBASSY® Trusted Drive Manager, or equivalent management application, bundled with every Encrypted Mobility SSD, provides these essential capabilities and more. For installations of 50 or more Encrypted Mobility SSDs, Dell recommends a remote management solution such as the Wave EMBASSY Remote Administration Server (ERAS) sold separately, which provides centralized user and credential management and robust compliance reporting.
If you want Dell’s ...Choose ...
Increased drive durabilityDell Mobility solid-state drive
Best system performanceDell Mobility solid-state drive
Strongest data securityDell FIPS-certified encrypted 7200 rpm HDD
Maximum storage capacityDell Latitude — up to 500GB* 7200 rpm


Types of Primary Storage on Latitude and Dell Precision

Dell offers the following types of storage products on our laptops and mobile workstations:

Solid-State Drives (SSDs) — are the latest revolution in notebook storage. Dell SSDs provide exceptional system performance, up to 23 percent greater than 5400 rpm drives,* and added durability* and reliability unmatched by standard hard drives. SSDs are virtually silent and put off less heat, helping create a better experience for the mobile user.

Encrypted (SED) Drives — keep your data safe by using powerful, hardware-based encryption without a negative impact on performance. Encrypted drives are currently offered in both TCG Opal SSDs and Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS)-certified HDDs for a full range of encrypted performance. Offering the same level of performance as the nonencrypted versions, the encrypted HDDs and SSDs are not only secure, but also high performance. In both configurations, the hardware-based encryption engine is built directly into the drive controller, delivering always-on encryption that is not vulnerable to software attacks and operates at the full speed of the hard drive. Dell’s managed encrypted drive solution also verifies user identities inside the drive chip so your data remains safe if your system is lost or stolen, or if the drive is moved from one machine to another. Encrypted drives are easy to configure and use and their secure erase feature provides a green alternative for HDD disposal or reuse. For installations of 50 or more encrypted drives, Dell recommends a remote management solution, such as the Wave EMBASSY Remote Administration Server (ERAS), sold separately, which provides centralized user and credential management, and robust compliance reporting.

Rugged Primary Storage — For added durability, Dell offers SSDs in the rugged product line, which offers up to 15 times greater shock resistance than standard 7200 rpm hard drives.*

7200 rpm Disk Drives — Dell’s Latitude and Dell Precision mobile systems offer a full range of 7200 rpm HDDs, including an FIPS-certified encrypted HDD. Dell systems have Free Fall sense technology that can sense if a system is falling and "park" the heads in a safe position to help protect the drive from failure and potential data loss. By having this technology in the system, these Dell drives can detect and react quickly to protect your data.

Latitude Mainstream E6410, E6410 ATG, E6510Latitude E6410 ATGLatitude Essential E5410, E5510Latitude E4310Latitude 13Latitude 2110/2120 Latitude E4200Latitude 12 7000 SeriesLatitude 14 7000 Series
Mobility Solid-State DriveYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYes Yes 
Encrypted Mobility Solid-State Drive*YesYesNoYesNoNoYesNo No 
FIPS-Encrypted Drive*YesYesYesYesYesNoNoYesYes 
7200 rpm DriveYesYesYesYesYesYesNo No No
5400 rpm DriveYesYesYesYesYesYesNo NoYes