Help Me Choose: Primary Storage

The hard drive is the primary storage unit of the computer. The operating system, applications, files and data are stored on the hard drive. If this Dell Precision™ is used for digital video editing or audio file storage, or for working with storage intense applications, you should consider buying a faster hard drive with more capacity.

Replacing a hard drive, either as an upgrade or because of a failure, can be challenging. The best way to avoid this inconvenience is to choose a hard drive that meets your needs well into the future by considering these four factors:

1. Capacity requirements. More gigabytes (GB) mean more capacity. Presentations, videos, spreadsheets and photos take up much more space than word processing documents and emails and will require a hard drive with more capacity.

2. The importance of the data. Sensitive data such as customer information, financial records and medical history can be better protected by a full disk encryption hard drive (FDE).

3. Performance. Hard drive performance is influenced by the speed of the drive measured in revolutions per minute (rpm) and the use of flash memory to accelerate data access. Higher rpm means higher performance. Flash memory can also enhance drive performance by allowing data access without waiting for the drive to spin up. This can provide advantages in boot time as well as application launches. New innovations such as hybrid hard drives (HHDs), Intel® Turbo memory and solid-state hard drives — all rely on flash memory to enhance performance. Solid-state drives have no moving parts so their speed is not measured in rpm.

4. Durability. Most hard drives have moving parts, making them vulnerable to certain impacts, vibrations and other movement that can lead to a crashed hard drive. New innovations such as solid-state drives help protect against impacts and can reduce the risk of failure. If you are usually on the go, work in the field or often run through airports, you should consider a solid-state drive for added durability.

5. Self-encrypting Drives (SED): Help keep your data safe by using powerful, hardware-based encryption without a negative impact on performance. The encryption engine is built directly into the drive controller; thus all encryption is done at the full speed of the hard drive. On SED drives even the password is encrypted, so your data has an additional layer of protection whether the drive is in the system or on its own if stolen. SED drives are easy to use and deploy with a quick and secure erase for HDD disposal or reuse.

6. FIPS-certified SED: Federal government requirements have driven more strict standards on data protection. Dell has endeavored to meet these needs by offering the FIPS 140-2-certified encrypted HDD. Offering all of the features of the standard SSD, plus FIPS tamper resistant seal and unique encryption algorithm, the FIPS encrypted drive offers outstanding data security protection. The FIPS encrypted drive is designed to appeal to federal government employers, healthcare and financial markets where data security is of utmost importance.

7. Hybrid Drives: Hard disk with upto 32GB of flash storage. Dell hybrid drives provide an increased performance and responsiveness over regular hard drives.
Dell offers the following types of storage products on its laptops and mobile workstations:

Solid-state Drives (SSDs) — are the latest revolution in notebook storage. Dell SSDs provide exceptional system performance, up to 16 percent greater than 7200 rpm drives,* and added durability* and reliability unmatched by standard hard drives. SSDs are virtually silent and give out less heat helping create a better experience for the mobile user.

MSATA (Mini Card) SSDs — are the latest form factor for notebook SSDs. The Dell Precision MSATA SSDs offer the user the ability to add an additional boot drive to their system. This MSATA SSD is intended to be the boot drive, providing the customer all of the benefits of SSD technology, including fast boot times, fast read/write times and incredible shock resistance. The extra benefit is that you can use the remaining storage drive for large capacity data storage. One super fast SSD boot drive + a large capacity storage drive = the best of both speed and capacity.
Encrypted (SED) Drives — keep your data safe by using powerful, hardware-based encryption without a negative impact on performance. With SEDs, the hardware-based encryption engine is built directly into the drive controller, delivering always-on encryption that operates at the full speed of the hard drive helping you maintain security without significant performance degradation.

7200 rpm Disk Drives — Dell Precision mobile systems offer a full range of 7200 rpm HDDs, including an FIPS-certified encrypted HDD. Dell’s fast response free fall sensor technology 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.

Hybrid Drives – Hybrid drives are similar to standard disk drives except they add a small amount, typically 8GB-32GB, of solid state storage to help speed up data access. This results in a faster response time and less waiting.
If you want ... Choose ... 
Maximum storage capacity 5400 rpm hard drive 
Good performance 7200 rpm 
Better performance Hybrid drive 
Best performance Solid-state drive 
Maximum durability Solid-state drive 
Maximum data security FIPS-certified self-encrypting drive (SED)