Article Number: 000179003
A hard drive is a fundamental component of a computer (excluding most thin clients). The operating system files, application files, and other data such as images, music files, video files, documents are stored on the hard drive.
The type of storage device 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.
Are you experiencing issues with booting into the operating system or slow performance? Learn how to troubleshoot hard drive or solid-state drive issues on a Dell computer.
It is important to identify if the hard drive is failing on the computer. Bad or corrupted sectors on a hard drive can cause performance issues and operating system boot issues.
Mechanical hard drives (HDDs) are traditional hard drives that are used in most desktops and laptops. These drives are electromechanical storage devices that use magnetic storage on a series of physical platters to store and retrieve digital data. Mechanical hard drives support higher storage capacity, and slower read/write speeds compared to solid state drives (SSD). Mechanical hard drives contain moving components inside the drive. Mechanical hard drives are available in 3.5-inch form-factor that is mostly used in desktops and all-in-one computers and 2.5-inch form-factor that is used in laptops. The performance of a mechanical hard drive depends on the revolutions per minute (RPM) rating of the drive. A hard drive that is rated at a higher RPM has better read/write speeds compared to lower RPM hard drives.
Solid-state drives (SSDs) are the latest type of hard drives that are used on desktops, laptops, tablets, and so on. Solid-state drives use flash memory to store and retrieve digital data. Solid-state drives do not have any moving parts, this helps improve the performance of the computer. Solid-state drives have stronger resistance to physical shock, they run quietly, have faster read/write speeds, and lower latency. Solid-state drives come in several form factors:
|Hard disk drive (HDD), also called mechanical hard drive||Solid-State Drive (SSD)|
|Form-factor or interface||
*The type of hard drive (HDD or SSD) that is supported on your Dell computer depends on the hard drive interface (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.
Internal hard drives are installed inside the computer. Unlike an external hard drive, these drives are not portable. An internal hard drive is connected to the system board of the computer. The type of internal hard drive (HDD or SSD) that is supported on your Dell computer depends on the hard drive interface (Serial-ATA or SATA, mSATA, M.2 SATA, or M.2 NVMe) that is available on the system board.
External hard drives are ideal for raw storage space to back up data and transport files from one computer to another. Most external hard drives come with a USB cable to connect the drive to the computer. External hard drives come in various capacities and connectivity options such as USB 2.0, USB 3.0, or Thunderbolt 3 external drives. The type of connectivity determines the performance of the external hard drive. To learn more, see the documentation of the external hard drive on the device manufacturer's website. If the external hard drive is not detected on the computer, learn how to troubleshoot USB issues on a Dell computer.
If the computer cannot boot into Windows, run the preboot-diagnostic test on a Dell computer:
If the computer can boot into Windows and can access the internet, run the Dell online diagnostics:
Have you received or purchased a replacement hard drive for your Dell computer? The service manual for your Dell computer has instructions on how to remove and install the hard drive on your Dell computer.
To access the service manual of your Dell computer:
Hard drive upgrade is often considered to increase the storage space or to enhance the performance of the computer. Upgrading from a traditional hard disk drive (HDD) to a solid state drive (SSD) helps improve the performance of the computer.
Hard drive specifications that must be considered before purchasing an upgraded hard drive
The type of hard drive (HDD or SSD) that is supported on your Dell computer depends on the hard drive interface (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.
Backing up data regularly is an important part of computer maintenance. Online or "cloud" storage simplifies data backup for productivity tasks, but for media, sensitive information, and other large data a formal backup solution may be required.
Learn more about different options for backing up data on a Dell computer.
Modern hard drives are designed to self-heal. The drives transparently identify and block bad sectors and redirect data to a reserved space on the drive allotted for this purpose. This capability allows for higher fault tolerance and mitigates some of the design limitations of hard drives.
If your Dell computer is unable to boot into Microsoft Windows, see the Dell knowledge base articles below.
Out of warranty? No problem. Browse to the Dell.com/support website and enter your Dell Service Tag and view our offers.
Chromebox, Alienware, Inspiron, Retired Models, OptiPlex, Vostro, XPS, G Series, Chromebook, G Series, Alienware, Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Retired Models, Fixed Workstations, Mobile Workstations
19 Dec 2022