Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 16
  1. #1
    iNET Interactive
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Seattle, WA, USA
    Posts
    380
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 29 Times in 24 Posts

    Two tools for checking hard-drive health


    Best Utilities

    Two tools for checking hard-drive health


    By Tracey Capen

    One of the original Windows Secrets subscribers wrote in to recommend the drive-analysis tool, Hard Disk Sentinel. He stated that the app warned him of a failing drive before the drive became unusable.

    Drive failures are arguably the most destructive form of data loss especially as drives grow into the terabyte ranges. All too often, however, when a drive starts to crap out, it does so without an obvious warning to the user. And as we at Windows Secrets know, (based on the help requests we receive) many users don't have backups.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/two-tools-for-checking-hard-drive-health/ (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Cardiff, UK
    Posts
    4,492
    Thanks
    284
    Thanked 577 Times in 480 Posts
    A few basics on SMART as I understand them:

    • S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) is what all these tools get the data from.
    • Only a certain subset of the SMART #s are fixed, other #s can be, and often are, vendor-specific.
    • Even then, some of the fixed #s might need calibration, like the temperature readout, #190.
    • Vendor-specific data may not be readily available, or correctly interpreted, by some SMART monitoring software.
    • Only a specific subset of these #s can be used to judge a drives likely lifespan and health.
    • Not all drives, even of the same type, HDD, IDE, SATA, SSD, etc., give the same subset of 'useful' data, some don't have temperature sensors, some report on a greater number of 'useful' stats than others.
    • There are many times when drives die without ever having logged any SMART errors.
    • Drives can die long before expected, or function for much longer, they rarely, if ever, die on the day forecast.
    • Vendors do not use the same set of reporting stats, they can pick and choose which are enabled by firmware or are limited by the chipset used.
    • SMART is therefore (remember - it's the drive that's self-reporting!), of limited use - but when it does detect/report errors - they need to be watched over time and acted on before the inevitable happens.


    So, when it comes to software that's monitoring drive health via SMART, they're each only as good as the data supplied. At best.



    Some SMART monitoring software goes the extra mile, even really checking whether TRIM is actually active on an SSD, or merely enabled by the host OS but blocked by eg. the chipset driver version (sorry folks, Fsutil cannot detect whether an SSD is actively using TRIM or not - commentards, blogtards and tech 'journos' please take note). This 'blocking' of TRIM might also block the application of new firmware to avoid, or fix, certain problems that might be specific to that drive/firmware version.



    Disclosure: I do own and frequently use HD Sentinel Professional, as I have done since winning it in an online draw. It's a very useful diagnostic and testing tool, the developer seems to be very helpful and readily accessible, the website is full of useful data and explanations/tips, etc.

    It's one of the very few pay software that I own and use and I really wouldn't want to be deprived of it, it just has a little more about it than the alternatives I've tested/used.

    The site seems to be very factual, no spurious claims made about how 'brand X' can solve all your issues and improve your PCs performance, it all appears to be based on factual data, most of which is linked to or, where it's based on the dev's own hands on drive testing and log collecting/reading (none is sent by default, as far as I recall, it has to be sent via email, so there doesn't appear to be anything intrusive/anti-privacy installed), it's onsite as are links to specific driver versions for SATA chipsets that are known and tested to allow TRIM.

  3. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to satrow For This Useful Post:

    bobprimak (2016-11-16),cyberdiva (2016-12-06),TCHAPAIEV (2016-11-15)

  4. #3
    Star Lounger
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    60
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Article is good, but leaves us still wondering what might be a good paid utility.

    BUT, MORE IMPORTANT, and POSSIBLY FOR A FUTURE ARTICLE, is HOW TO INTERPRET SMART DATA.
    there are several free, paid, and manufacturer utilities that report SMART data. BUT, the table of results leaves a lot to be desired.
    as an example, one of samsung's tests states, for one of the values
    ID 183, runtime bad blocks, failed - never, worst 100, threshhold 10, PRE-FAILURE.
    This is absolutely unintelligible to me; and samsung's response to me was that the drive is OK.
    SO, WHAT is PRE-failure
    the same for multiple other SMART values

    If you coould help us interpret these values, it would be great

  5. #4
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    9
    Thanks
    2
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts
    As my system has Intel SSD drives, I use Intel's free SSD Toolbox utility. It also reports the SMART information of platter-based drives. I have confidence in the information from the SSD drives, at the very least.

  6. The Following User Says Thank You to DKS01 For This Useful Post:

    bobprimak (2016-11-16)

  7. #5
    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Cardiff, UK
    Posts
    4,492
    Thanks
    284
    Thanked 577 Times in 480 Posts
    @aoz, I don't consider the article particularly good, the author appears to have ignored/missed what I consider to be the most important and accurate posts in the linked forum, #18+19:

    HDScomments.jpg

    ID 183, runtime bad blocks, failed - never, worst 100, threshhold 10, PRE-FAILURE.
    This is absolutely unintelligible to me; and samsung's response to me was that the drive is OK.
    SO, WHAT is PRE-failure
    #183 bad blocks failed - never = perfect, HDS refers to the same # and stats as Runtime Bad Block (Total) = OK.

    I have 2x Samsung SSDs (+ 3x other SSD/HDDs currently in this PC) and only run the Samsung toolkit for (very) occasional checks for firmware updates, nothing else. A quick glance at the HDS Overview tab is way more humanly accessible/understandable, you would probably see for your drive a flat line 100% Health graph and this:

    The hard disk status is PERFECT. Problematic or weak sectors were not found and there are no spin up or data transfer errors.

    No actions needed.
    And probably a few stats/descriptions like Power on time, Estimated remaining lifetime and Total start/stop count (some of which might depend on exactly which SMART stats are reported by the drive).
    Last edited by satrow; 2016-11-15 at 09:15. Reason: 2 words the wrong way around.

  8. #6
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Boca Raton, FL, USA
    Posts
    7
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts
    Quote Originally Posted by Tracey Capen View Post

    Best Utilities
    Might want to have a look at https://www.smartmontools.org/
    All OSes, supports RAID (some) and is GNU GPL. Has informative WiKi.

    Lou

  9. #7
    Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    ST-JEANNET FRANCE
    Posts
    37
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    I personnaly use HDS ; It is an interesting Program but cannot do miracles ; I have a HD which is indicated as having had invalid sectors which is true ; for the moment I do not change anything but.... I think to it ; Aside from that I indicate that 1000 days is equivalent to infinite or N/a which means that the HD is found healthy ; there is a wealth of tests possible but they are frightening I confess ; I will not use Ashampoo ; it sucks

  10. #8
    Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    ST-JEANNET FRANCE
    Posts
    37
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Fully agree!!!!

  11. #9
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    1
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    I've used Spinrite (Gibson Research) since 2004 and it has been a good tool. Also use Seagate Tools for Windows, also good and free.

  12. #10
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Mendocino County, CA
    Posts
    1
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
    I'd like to add my favorite free tool for viewing the SMART data - SpeedFan from Almico
    You can mess up a lot of readings and fan speeds with it, but it also reports any hard drives that were present at boot time. External drives (USB v1,2 &3) also show if they were present at boot.
    I've not got any SSD's to test it with.
    http://www.almico.com/sfdownload.php

  13. The Following User Says Thank You to burgessms For This Useful Post:

    DavidFB (2016-11-15)

  14. #11
    3 Star Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Courtenay, BC
    Posts
    244
    Thanks
    9
    Thanked 16 Times in 15 Posts
    Quote Originally Posted by burgessms View Post
    I'd like to add my favorite free tool for viewing the SMART data - SpeedFan from Almico
    You can mess up a lot of readings and fan speeds with it, but it also reports any hard drives that were present at boot time. External drives (USB v1,2 &3) also show if they were present at boot.
    I've not got any SSD's to test it with.
    http://www.almico.com/sfdownload.php
    I use Speedfan also and it works fine with SSD drives. I've found it particularly useful for heavily used laptops to monitor temps as they can get mighty hot. That's certainly one way to reduce drive life. It finds USB drives fine but reports "invalid data" for my networked NAS RAID.

    It's SMART tab allows you to check a drives status and it gives a basic Fitness and Performance review. Plus tests.
    Last edited by DavidFB; 2016-11-15 at 17:16.

  15. #12
    3 Star Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Courtenay, BC
    Posts
    244
    Thanks
    9
    Thanked 16 Times in 15 Posts
    Sorry, but not impressed with the article. A product with constant aggressive marketing, required registration (for more), and does a semi OK job? That it required rebooting to work also suggests its installed a service or auto-start, which is not mentioned. Do you really want this just to occasionally check your drives? And the second tool sounds decent but is designed for ongoing monitoring which is unnecessary for most home PCs.

    As you can never predict the death of a hard drive, the real solution is automated backup. I know 2 people who lost drives by banging their keyboards (on laptops)

  16. The Following User Says Thank You to DavidFB For This Useful Post:

    bobprimak (2016-11-16)

  17. #13
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    Posts
    6
    Thanks
    4
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
    You missed SpinRite! It might be more than most software of this type, but it IS the alpha of HDD software. In my experience, if the hard drive can be saved, SpinRite can do it and do it safely.

  18. #14
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    11
    Thanks
    6
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Thumbs up

    Good review of Hard Drive Sentinel... been using it for over 3 years now and consider it a must-have utility... it's in a class of its own IMHO

    Personally, I've had no problems with any of my drives.

    How good it is at alerting you before you have a drive crash? Consider this 2012 review by a reliable tech blogger, Sujay Ghoshr:

    http://www.insightsintechnology.com/...#axzz4Q8xNL1xB

  19. #15
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Hinsdale, IL, USA
    Posts
    2,483
    Thanks
    176
    Thanked 152 Times in 129 Posts
    Quote Originally Posted by louyo View Post
    Might want to have a look at https://www.smartmontools.org/
    All OSes, supports RAID (some) and is GNU GPL. Has informative WiKi.

    Lou
    A bit off-topic, but...

    I looked into smartmontools, and it turns out to be a well-known Linux tool.

    I found a sidelight on using TRIM on Samsung SSDs under Ubuntu Linux. It seems there used to be a kernel-level issue which made certain configurations lose data when performing TRIM under Linux. Apparently as of Ubuntu 16.04 this issue has been resolved, and the task is scheduled for all SSD partitions as a weekly cron job. Nice to know Linux does perform this task, as Windows does, automatically by default. The task can be edited or removed if needed for a particular configuration.

    Also, Linux formatted partitions might be better monitored using Linux tools. I am aware that things like SMART and TRIM are properties of the whole drive, and involve firmware which is not dependent on formatting, but I think it doesn't hurt to monitor and maintain a multi-OS drive with tools from each OS or File System which it contains. Maybe I'm just engaging in an over-abundance of caution here.
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2016-11-16 at 13:46.
    -- Bob Primak --

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •