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Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and Solid-State Drive (SSD)

Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and Solid-State Drive (SSD)

The type of storage your computer uses matters for performance, including power usage and reliability. Hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs) are the two main types of storage devices. A hard disk drive (HDD) is a traditional storage device that uses mechanical platters and a moving read/write head to access data. A solid-state drive (SSD) is a newer, faster type of device that stores data on instantly-accessible memory chips. Here are some key differences between a hard disk drive and solid-state drive.

Hard disk drive (HDD)Solid-State Drive (SSD)
  • 3.5” Serial-ATA (SATA) mostly used in desktops and all-in-ones
  • 2.5” Serial-ATA (SATA) mostly used in laptops
  • 2.5” Serial-ATA (SATA)*
  • mSATA*
  • M.2 SATA*
  • M.2 NVMe*
Read/Write speed
  • Slower
  • Faster
Energy efficiency
  • Uses more energy
  • Uses less energy

*The type of hard drive (HDD or SSD) that is supported on your Dell computer depends on the hard drive port (Serial-ATA or SATA, mSATA, M.2 SATA, or M.2 NVMe) that is available on the system board. To learn what type of hard drive is supported on your Dell computer, see the technical specifications in the user guide of your Dell computer for model-specific information.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, the suggested quick steps might help.

  • Computer cannot boot into the operating system
  • Hard drive-related error messages such as ‘Hard disk drive not found’
  • Computer is running slow. For example, applications take a long time to load.
  • Hard drive is making a clicking or grinding noise
  • Windows STOP error (also called blue screen error). STOP errors can occur due to corrupt files caused by a hard drive failure.

Here are a few quick steps that you can try to resolve a hard drive issue

Try each step and check if the hard drive issue is resolved. If the issue is not resolved, proceed to the next step.

  1. Perform a hard reset.
    1. Turn off the computer. Press and hold the power button for 10-15 seconds.
    2. Disconnect the AC adapter or power cable from the computer and remove the battery (for Dell laptops with removable battery).

      NOTE: Dell all-in-one computers may either come with a power cable or an AC adapter. Disconnect the power cable or the AC adapter depending on the configuration of the computer.

      NOTE: For Dell laptops that have a nonremovable battery, reset Real Time Clock (RTC) on the Dell laptop. For Dell laptops with a removable battery, see the user manual of the Dell laptop for step-by-step instructions to safely remove the battery.

      NOTE: On select Dell Latitude laptops, try to recover the Dell Latitude laptop using the forced ePSA to recover from a POST or boot failure.
    3. Disconnect all devices such as USB drives, printers, and media cards (SD/xD) except the keyboard and mouse.
    4. Press and hold the power button for 15-20 seconds to drain residual power.
    5. Connect the power cable to the computer and install the battery (for Dell laptops with removable battery).
    6. Turn on the computer.
  2. Reset the BIOS or UEFI to factory default settings. See the user manual of the Dell computer to learn how to navigate the BIOS or UEFI.
  3. Check if the hard drive is detected in the BIOS. See the user manual of the Dell computer to learn how to navigate the BIOS or UEFI. If the hard drive is not detected in the BIOS, contact Dell Technical Support.
  4. If the hard drive is detected and the computer cannot boot into Microsoft Windows, try to repair or restore Microsoft Windows on your Dell computer.
  5. If the computer can boot into the operating system, go to, download and install the latest BIOS and latest drivers for your Dell computer.
  6. Run the preboot diagnostic test on the Dell computer. If the test fails, contact Dell Technical Support.

If these quick steps did not resolve your issue, we have more detailed information in the additional resources. You can also search for content related to the issue using the search bar at the top of this page.

Additional resources

Other Resources

Hardware test
Hardware test
Run a hardware test on the hard drive
Drivers and downloads
Drivers and downloads
Need to install or update Dell drivers? Go to
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Support videos
Go to our Dell video library for more support videos.