The hard drive is the most important component of a computer mainly because all the data is stored permanently in the hard drive. Like wise, hard drive failure is the worst case a person can encounter especially when no data has been backed up.
Modern hard drives make use of a technology called S.M.A.R.T. (Self monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) which monitors the hard drive for different reliability indicators and reports any possible failure before it occurs.
If you have a modern hard drive, the S.M.A.R.T. technology will already be monitoring the health of your hard drive and this is done in the background. The user doesn’t have any idea of what’s being monitored. S.M.A.R.T. monitors a huge number of parameters to make sure that it reports all possible indicators to the user and warn if any indicator goes wrong. Here are some of the parameters which S.M.A.R.T. monitors:
- Read Error Rate
- Throughput Performance
- Spin-Up Time
- Start/Stop Count
- Reallocated Sectors Count
- Read Channel Margin
- Seek Error Rate
- Seek Time Performance
- Power-On Hours (POH)
- Spin Retry Count
The article about S.M.A.R.T. on Wikipedia lists down all the 254 parameters.
Windows does not provide any monitoring statistics of S.M.A.R.T. by default but it provides some tools which can be helpful in checking the hard drive for errors. The most useful tool is Disk Checkup tool. If you are not comfortable with Windows Check Disk, you can install one of these third party chkdsk alternatives. I personally prefer to use Windows Check Disk utility.
You can open command prompt and run the following commands in order to start checking a particular drive for errors.
chkdsk c: /F
DiskCheckup is a free software from PassMark which can give detailed information about the health of your hard drive by reading the S.M.A.R.T. values.
DiskCheckup gives detailed information about the hard drive. The user interface of DiskCheckup displays four tabs.
- Device Info – gives hardware related information about the hard drive including capacity, serial, model, firmware etc.
- SMART Info – gives information about the latest health check carried out by SMART.
- SMART History – keeps a history of SMART tests. It is not activated by default and can be activated in the configuration settings. Just make sure you cleanup the history regularly as keeps on taking more space with time.
- Disk Self Test – runs a self test on the hard drive and reports any errors.
Above these four tabs is a list of physical hard drives attached to the system. Clicking on a hard drive will fill information below in the tabs.
Although the SMART functionality will report errors automatically, you can run the Disk Self Test in order to make sure your hard drive is in good condition.
What do you do to keep your hard drive in a healthy condition? Does using DiskCheckup provide you with useful information about your hard drive?