Check the health of your Hard Drive

The hard drive is arguably the single most important component inside your computer, this is because it contains all of your photo’s, your CV, your dissertation, you’re music. Whatever is important to you, if its on your computer, it lives on your hard drive.

If your hard drive fails, the data it contained usually becomes irrecoverably lost, unless your willing to pay hundreds of pounds for professional data recovery services.

There are two things we can take from this:

  • Regularly backup your data.
  • Regularly assess the health of your hard drive.

This guide doesn’t cover backups, though we do offer a Backup Service.

This guide will help you keep an eye on your hard drives health. Finding problems early helps you to avoid nasty surprises and helps prevent data loss.

Here you will learn how to use the same tools as the computer repair professionals, the following steps are very simple and require 15 minutes to complete.

This guide applies to Windows computers only, for Mac’s check out DriveDX and DiskUtility.

Introducing – Crystal Disk Info

This free and simple utility monitors your Hard Drive’s S.M.A.R.T. health status and works with both HDD’s and SSD’s. S.M.A.R.T. is the drives built in monitoring system which gives you a warning if errors are detected and failure is likely.

By following these instructions, you’ll learn how to  install Crystal Disk Info, set it to run quietly in the background to monitor your drives and automatically alert you if a problem is found.

Download Here  – Click  ‘exe’ in the standard edition section.

1 – Double click on the installer file,  it is usually found in the downloads directory, or run it directly from your browser.

2 – Click ‘I accept the agreement’.

3 – Click ‘Next’ repeatedly, then click ‘Install’.

4 – Click ‘Finish’, this will open Crystal Disk Info.

Once open you should see the health status of your drive is 100%  If it is not then please message us on Facebook for advice.

If you have more than one drive, click the arrow shown above to cycle through them.

5 – Finally to enable ongoing monitoring and alerts. In the ‘Function’ menu, select ‘Resident’ and ‘Startup’.

Crystal Disk Info is now installed and will constantly monitor your drives health and warn you of problems.

Please be aware that although monitoring S.M.A.R.T. using Crystal Disk Info is very useful, it is not fool proof and will not predict all failures.

Introducing – SeaTools by Seagate

Using SeaTools you can perform a full surface scan, this scans the whole disk for errors and finds problems that can be missed by Crystal Disk Info’s S.M.A.R.T. monitoring. This scan can take up to 20 hours to complete but its a very worthwhile precaution if you value your data, just leave it running overnight.

Its a good idea to backup your data first encase there are already underlying problems with your drive.

Download here – Click ‘SeaTools for windows’ in the downloads section

1 – Double click on the installer file,  it is usually found in the downloads directory, or run it directly from your browser.

2 – Click Next

3 – Click ‘I accept the terms of the license agreement’

4 – Click ‘Next’ repeatedly, then click ‘ Finish

5 – Now it is installed, you can open SeaTools from your desktop or your start menu. Once opened you will see a list of your hard drives.

6 – Click the check box for each drive you wish to test, you should test all drives and can select them all at once.

7 – Then click ‘Long generic’ in the ‘Basic Tests’ menu

Here you can see the test progress.

Finally,  if all is well SeaTools will give you the result ‘Long generic – Pass’. If it does not then please message us on Facebook for advice.

8 – Close SeaTools and rest well knowing your data is safe.  You should do a full surface scan every 6 – 12 months.

Now that you’ve used Crystal Disk Info and SeaTools to check your drives physical health. The last thing to do is check your filesystem for integrity.

 

Introducing – Chkdsk

This guide simply wouldn’t be complete without chkdsk. This utility was created by Microsoft,  is the best way to look after your filesystem and is already installed on your computer.

To do a full scan of your filesystem and check it for integrity, repairing any errors follow these steps.

Its a good idea to backup your data first encase there are already underlying problems with your drive.

1 -Click on the start button and type ‘cmd’

 

2a – For windows 7 – Right click on ‘cmd’  then click ‘Run as administrator’

2b – For windows 10 – Right click on ‘Command Prompt’  then click ‘Run as administrator’

You will see a blank screen like the one above.

3 – Type:

chkdsk C: /F

then press enter.  ( C: is the name of the main drive on nearly all computers. Replace C: with the name of another drive if you wish to scan this too, you should scan all drives. )

4 – Type Y and press enter.

 

5 – Restart your computer, chkdsk will scan your drive and repair it if needed. Pay attention to the results of the scan, if it detects errors then you should repeat the process until it gives a clean bill of health.

 

If you have done multiple scans and are still getting errors then please message us on Facebook for advice.

 

Some more information on the two types of hard drive.

 

Hard Disk Drives aka HDD’s

Unfortunately traditional hard drives also known as HDD’s are mechanical devices and can be prone to failure. Inside is a spinning platter that spins at a minimum of 5,400 RPM and a moving read/write head, very similar in design to a vinyl record player. In a hard drive however, the head is not supposed to touch the spinning platter, if it does it causes severe damage known as a head crash. This is usually caused by excessive vibration.

With this in mind, if your laptop is running, avoid slamming the lid of your laptop down and be careful when placing your laptop on the table. However if the laptop is switched off, the HDD will be in a protected state.

Pro’s:

  • Cheaper than an SSD
  • Larger capacities available compared to SSD

 

Cons:

  • Slower
  • Heavier
  • They run hotter
  • They use more power and drain the laptop battery faster
  • Less reliable
  • Damaged by excessive vibration or strong magnets.

Best for storage of large files such as photo’s and video’s where an SSD would be too expensive.

 

Solid State Drives aka SSD’s

These have no moving parts, internally are much like a USB memory stick and are now beginning to be considered more reliable than HDD’s.

They are lighter, cooler, use less power and are up to ten times faster. The downside is that they are more expensive than HDD’s and don’t suite applications that require very high storage capacities.

Pro’s

  • Lighter
  • Cooler
  • Use less power resulting in longer battery life
  • Faster – Up to ten times faster
  • More reliable
  • Not damaged by vibration or magnets.

 

Cons:

  • More expensive than HDD
  • Smaller capacities available compared to HDD

Best used as your primary boot drive for the running of the operating system and programs due to there awesome speed.

 

Visit our shop for special offers on SSD upgrades.

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