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.
Always interested in a new utility, I started my research into HD Sentinel by looking for online reviews. But I didn’t find much. In a Malware Tips forum post, a member asked whether the utility was safe to use. The few replies generally stated that HD Sentinel was safe but perhaps too prone to false failure predictions.
Moreover, several posts in the thread recommended Ashampoo’s HDD Control, so I took a look at both products. Note that I can’t compare the ability of either product to predict a coming drive failure. Both tools reported that the drives on my test system were in good health.
Ashampoo HDD Control: A suite of simple tools
I downloaded and installed the Windows-only, free version of Ashampoo’s HDD Control 2017 (site) — and immediately ran into one of those annoying marketing/seemingly bait-and-switch setups.
The installation required signing up for an Ashampoo user account (giving, at a minimum, an email address) and clicking an email-based confirmation link. You’re then given a product key. During the install process, you’re also nagged to upgrade to the “premium” version of the app. That screen doesn’t tell you the cost of the premium version or what you get above and beyond the free version. (I continued with free.)
With the installation process complete, the shortcut icon for HDD Control appeared on my desktop — but also another shortcut labeled “My Software Deals.” Clicking it sends you off to the Ashampoo site where you’re offered deep discounts on other Ashampoo products (of which there are many). For example, the paid HDD Control 3 was discounted from U.S. $40 down to $20. It’s fairly hardcore marketing that’s somewhat intrusive. (Fortunately, the My Software Deals shortcut is easy to kill off.)