Check the health of your hard drive under Windows

                        

The drive is probably one of the most important components of your system: it is he who holds the operating system, all your programs, video games, and especially … your personal files (documents, pictures, music, videos …)! But it is also one of the most fragile components! Its lifetime is 5 years on average and it is not uncommon to recompense before soul.


            
                
                    

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This is why it is important to watch health in order to prevent an imminent hardware failure . Imagine for a moment you lose all your personal files after a crash your hard drive . Farewell photos, videos and other personal documents 🙁 …


Taux de survie des disques durs durant les 4 premières années - Source : https://href.li/?https://www.backblaze.com/blog/how-long-do-disk-drives-last/

Survival rate of hard drives in the first 4 years – Source: Backblaze.com



To avoid such a disaster, the first thing to do and the best known is to program regular backups your personal files to an external hard drive or USB key. Windows also offer two backup solutions to help you keep your files safe: the file history and Windows Backup . Yes I know, you’ve already read thousands of times, but I will give one layer: Put up a backup system for your personal files! Windows offers two effective backup tools and simple to implement, it would be foolish to miss 😉


But this is not the subject of this article. Today we’ll see how directly verify the health status of hard disk to guard against an imminent crash and so not to be caught unawares . Because after a brutal crash your hard drive and even if you had thought about making a backup of your personal files a few days ago, you have to: order a new hard drive, wait for it, install it in your PC, re -install Windows and all your programs, reconfigure your preferences, etc, etc. A waste of time which can be serious, especially if you use your PC in a professional setting.


This is why monitor the health of your hard drive is essential and should be one of your priorities. Still not convinced? So let me show you why you’re wrong not to take it seriously! 😀 we go! 😉


Monitor the hard drive of his health: why do


?

In this section, I will attempt to explain why it is essential to monitor the health of your hard drive and this permanently!


Yeah … Do not already already there are protection systems fitted to my hard drive and protect it?



Yes of course and happily! You probably know, it is possible that some areas HDD are no longer readable or writable because any damage: a dirt that is encrusted, shock, vibration …


In this case, the hard drive mark this area as bad and will use ever for writing or reading. If this area already contained data, the hard disk trying to read and copy the data to a Special Area spare , reserved for the reallocation of bad sectors. Once this process is completed, all access attempts to the old area will be redirected to the spare area. The original area (which has failed) hard disk will be never reached even after a complete reformat.


The hard drive seems to manage the defective areas alone, OKLM! Why would I need to consult his health?



This seems indeed adequate but the problem is that user is never alerted of anything about health status of hard disk that decreases slowly until it becomes unusable and that the data is unrecoverable. Personally, I want to know if my hard drive is dying slowly and act accordingly!


There are also other problems that can degrading the health of the hard drive without that it can be: too high a temperature, incorrect power supply, mechanical shock, vibration … All this can seriously damage the hard drive .


How to know the state of health of my hard drive then?



For the health condition of a hard disk , there exists technology S.M.A.R.T. (Self Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) team that almost all hard drives. This technology continuously collecting information on health HDD : read error rate, error rate of access to the heads, temperature, number of re-allocated sectors, bad sectors , etc. A hard disk can have more 30 attributes for evaluating his condition.


The major part of the hard drives IDE / Serial ATA / SCSI has this feature S.M.A.R.T. . This is not really a standard, since the attributes to determine health status of hard disk may differ from one manufacturer to another. Because of this, a independent diagnostic program is often required to determine the actual condition of a hard disk. We still find common attributes among all manufacturers, thus it is possible to detect temperature of most hard drives, for example.


If SMART detects errors, you must do immediately to make the data in its hard drive in a safe place because obviously, it faces difficulties and can fail from one moment to another. S.M.A.R.T., so the hard drive monitoring system . It will allow us to anticipate future hard drive failure and take appropriate action.


How to view data of S.M.A.R.T from my hard drive?



must go through the programs that you allow us to consult S.M.A.R.T data from our hard drives in real time, directly from the operating system. These programs also provide features and advanced information to monitor the status of hard drives. A pledge of serenity, especially for those who value their data more than anything 😀


Windows alert us already when the hard disk is defective, why need an additional program?



Windows displays a warning when in fact the error level threshold (which was defined by the drive manufacturer) was hit by an attribute in the SMART monitoring system.


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For example, if the number of bad sectors is high and exceeds the threshold defined by the manufacturer of the hard disk, Windows may display the notification. This is the same kind of notification that appears in the BIOS before Windows starts.


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One would think that this is enough but unfortunately this approach has its limits:


  • Before you get to that point (which appears when a really critical threshold has been reached, the threshold defined by the manufacturer) several hard disk sector may have been affected, including loss of data, without you having been kept informed of the situation.

  • At this point, it may be too late : Some files and folders can be unreadable, inaccessible and your system may become him completely unstable (Windows unbootable, blue screens …). But rejoice anyway: This is a chance to see this message ! Sometimes hard drives never reach this point, they crashent completely before . And there are not a few files or folders that are inaccessible but all data on the hard drive.

  • On special configurations (RAID controller, AHCI mode …), these notifications may never appear. This is also the case for many external hard drives (USB, eSATA). Windows is not able to detect the current status of the hard drive, it will display ever warning messages (even for a hard drive that is about to crash).

  • we have no information on when and what kind of problem has been detected and what solutions offered to solve it.

This is to fill the gaps that an independent program is needed to effectively monitor the health of hard drives .


What hard drive diagnostic program to choose?



There are free and pay. Among the free, CrystalDiskInfo is the most popular. Among the fee, Hard Disk Sentinel and WindowSMART are the most famous. In this article, I chose to talk about Hard Disk Sentinel . I could select another software but it has rather good press across the Atlantic and has some really cool features 🙂 If you value more than anything to your data and you have ultra-sensitive documents that it is important not to lose, I highly recommend you to turn to a paid program, which has advanced features.


Are you convinced? Yes I hope 😀 If this is the case, let’s see how to check and / or monitor the health status of the hard drive in all simplicity.



Before we begin, we will first check that S.M.A.R.T is activated on your hard drive! Everything happens in the BIOS setup. In general, S.M.A.R.T is enabled by default but it costs nothing to go check 😉


Enable S.M.A.R.T on its hard drive


When starting the PC, enter the BIOS settings by pressing the appropriate key. As every BIOS is different menus you will certainly be different from those presented in this article. You can still continue to read on, this will give you an idea of ​​how to do to enable S.M.A.R.T technology of a hard drive in the BIOS.


Select “Standard CMOS Features”.


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Select your hard drive. In the screenshot below “ST3250318AS” is a Seagate Barracuda hard drive.


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Move to the line “Hard Disk S.M.A.R.T. “And press Enter.


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Select “Enabled” from the options. I guess “Auto” also works, motherboard or not activating S.M.A.R.T. as the hard drive or not has this feature (almost all hard drives are equipped today).


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Save the settings and reboot your PC by selecting “Save & Exit Setup”.


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Now we can see the S.M.A.R.T data from our hard drive! 🙂


As I have said in the introduction, we can see them only through a third party program that is installed directly into Windows. I will introduce two ways to read the data and so S.M.A.R.T know health status of hard disk . The first, simple and fast, and with WMIC CrystalDiskInfo; the second, much more complete, with Hard Disk Sentinel.


Quick method: with WMIC and CrystalDiskInfo


To check the health of your hard drive , you can use the command line WMIC (Windows Management Instrumentation Command-line) which simplifies the use of Windows management Instrumentation (WMI). WMI commands can perform a lot of administrative tasks, such as finding the computer model number, manufacturer, processor architecture … We, we will use it to check the health status of our disc hard!


Open a prompt in admin mode controls then type the following command:


 wmic diskdrive get status 

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See the results of the command. If your hard drive is in good health, you should have the message “Status: OK”


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Okay, I admit: this method is ultra-simple but ultra-limited 😛 We only know if the current values ​​of the attributes of S.M.A.R.T. our hard disk do not exceed alert thresholds defined by the manufacturer of the hard drive … For example, you can have bad sectors 5 but when the alert threshold is 100 bad sectors, the command show anyway “Status: OK” …. It does not tell us if errors or problems have been detected and if our hard drive is deteriorating gradually.


For more information on state of our hard drive , independent diagnostic programs can be used as CrystalDiskInfo or Hard Disk Sentinel (that I would present all on time). These programs follow the degradation HDD by detecting errors and problems live , whether for hard drives, SSDs, the SSHD … We is warned as soon as a problem occurs, even the most minor, like a new bad sector. In most cases, a minor problem is not critical, but it involves more closely monitor its hard drive. This also helps to prepare for a possible crash, making for example a backup personal files, consider a replacement hard drive, perform tests to reveal and correct problems … The goal is not to be taken unawares having to buy a new hard drive emergency and avoid ending up with nothing overnight.


Bon back to CrystalDiskInfo 😉


Download CrystalDiskInfo


CrystalDiskInfo has interesting features:


  • General information on hard drives firmware, interface, features …

  • Data S.M.A.R.T.

  • parameters Control AAM (Automatic Acoustic Management) and APM (Advanced Power Management)

  • Temperature Monitoring

  • email alert for exceeding tolerance levels

  • Support some USB hard drives

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The failure of this software is its Manual which is quite stingy with information. You can leave it running in the background, you will be alerted as soon as the software detects an anomaly on your hard drives. Remember to activate the options “Set task bar” and “Start with Windows” from the “Features” menu.


If CrystalDiskInfo is a solid software monitor the health of your hard drive , you can go further and turn to a paid software like Hard Disk Sentinel has more advanced features and is arguably even more effective.


Advanced Method: With Hard Disk Sentinel


I guess you wonder why buy a paid program like Hard Disk Sentinel to monitor the health of your hard drive while there are free programs like CrystalDiskInfo! 😛


I’ll show you what brings more Hard Disk Sentinel (as is the one I use), then it’s up to you which solution you want to turn you. For information, Hard Disk Sentinel is available price 18 € in Standard and € 28 in Pro version. This is the Pro version I own if you want to know 😉


What are the advantages of Hard Disk Sentinel compared to other hard drive diagnostic software?



Basic, all hard drive diagnostic software are based on the values ​​of the attributes of S.M.A.R.T. to determine the health status of a hard disk, values ​​collected by various sensors inside the hard drive (both current values ​​and those measured Time). The difference lies in the way these software interpret values. Each software determines the health of a hard drive in his way as the values ​​of SMART attributes. Most software are just compare the fields “current value” and “tolerance” to determine a health value (expressed in% on a scale of 0 to 100).


For example, software can estimate that your hard drive is healthy at 90% if it detects that you have 10 bad sectors on the 200 authorized by the manufacturer of the hard drive. Unfortunately, this way of doing is not the most reliable. This only compare two values ​​of gross manner, it does not know the number real problems. Hard Disk Sentinel – to name him – we informed of the types of problems that were detected (with text and not just with numbers) and why he evaluates the 100% Health 94% or 60%


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Hard Disk Sentinel allows for extensive testing, much more effectively than Windows chkdsk which verifies the status of the partition. Partitions can be damaged from hard drives in perfect working order and sometimes faulty hard drives can have partitions in “good” condition … Until you lose your data (click here for more information on repairing sectors with HD Sentinel). Hard Disk Sentinel can also check and correct other factors that are not directly related to hard disks and their usual problems (eg bad sectors) but the system of environmental problems: problems power level communication problems (eg. defective cable) compatibility issues


Finally, the highlight of Hard Disk Sentinel is that it alerts us as soon as a problem (even the minor) was detected. One can also set it so that we send a mail if overheating of a hard drive , to conduct an autosave our personal files if detects specific problems …. It would take too long to present all features of Hard Disk Sentinel 😛 If you want more information, I invite you to read the FAQ and the Manual software that are very complete and very informative.


As used in general? It’s very simple, you install and then you let it turn 🙂 If a problem is detected, you will be alerted in the second. If you do not know what to do to solve a particular problem, please leave a comment at the bottom of the article.


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The last word


I hope this article has helped you to become aware of the importance of that there continuously monitor the health status of hard drives . There is little risk of relying solely on the tools built into the operating system or motherboard that only alert us when a threshold has been achieved. Meanwhile, our hard drive was gradually trying to make the soul, without having been kept informed of anything, with the risk of files and folders are accessible at all.


for myself, using my laptop for personal and professional basis, I can not afford to do without a hard drive monitoring software . I could point me to CrystalDiskInfo or WindowSMART but I chose to give my trust to Hard Disk Sentinel 😉 In conclusion, I would definitely suggest you install one of these programs, especially if you have sensitive data or just personal files you care about more than anything 😉


                    

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