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Seagate powers self-encrypting Dell PCs

Seagate, McAfee and Dell advances in self-encrypting PC computers.

UPDATED: Corrected the information that McAfee provides software security solution for Dell's self-encrypting PCs as previously suggested in the article.

A Momentus FDE 2.5-inch SATA hard drive. Seagate

According to credible sources, a notebook computer is stolen every 53 seconds--and 97 percent are never recovered. In most cases, the risk of losing data stored on the hard drive is much higher than the value of the notebook itself.

To address this issue, Seagate, Dell, and McAfee teamed up to announce on Monday data encryption solutions for PCs that work without you even having to know about it. The solutions include new self-encrypting hard drives, software managing systems, and computers that implements the two.

The new hard drives belong to the Seagate's Momentus FDE family. FDE stands for full-disk encryption, Seagate's self-encrypting method for 2.5-inch hard drives.

Dell is the PC vendor that implements the new hard drives in a variety of its business computers.

McAfee annouced that it has joined the list of security software providers that support Seagate hard drives' embedded hardware encryption. This offers customers another choice of enterprise management solutions required to secure notebook computers.

The new Momentus FDE notebook hard drives comes in two performance grades: one that spins at 5400rpm and the other at 7200rpm. Both are presently available in 320GB and 16GB storage capacities, with 500GB versions coming early next year. However, the 5400rpm Momentus FDE has only 8MB of cache as opposed to 16MB of the 7200rpm version.

These drives features SATA controller interface and built-in AES encryption, a government-grade encryption capable of encrypting a hard drive's entire content transparently and automatically.

Though designed for enterprise, Seagate's new hard drives can be installed just like any other 2.5-inch SATA hard drive and therefore are also beneficial to regular individual users. Once installed, the user simply enters a BIOS password, then logs on as usual, and the security is in place. If the hard drive is taken out of the computer, it can't be read by any other machine. This, coupled with proper use of account password protection, make the hard drive's content only available to the owner.

Unlike software-based solution, the hardware-based encryption engine used in Seagate's Momentus FDE hard drives delivers security without the overhead--no bootup delays, no system slowdowns--and the BIOS automatically authenticates the user for transparent security.

The new self-encrypting hard drives don't come with a very hefty price tag--the 160GB 7200rpm version, for example, costs just around $150. If you are not comfortable with installing hard drives yourself, these drives are now used in Dell's business PCs, including Latitude laptops, Precision Mobile Workstations, and OptiPlex desktops.