How to check the integrity of the hard drive in Windows

How to check the integrity of the hard drive in Windows

Among the numerous hardware components that make up our computers, hard drives (or SSDs) are one of the most important. After all, they contain all our confidential files, valuable personal data and, of course, the operating system as well.

However, just like everything electronic, hard drives have a limited lifespan and their performance begins to deteriorate over time and eventually stop working. And when they do, data loss can (and often does) follow. Hence it is extremely important to regularly monitor the integrity of the PC hard drive, so that the necessary steps (such as data backup) can be performed if the hard drive starts to be problematic. but how to do it?

Not a problem, because that's exactly what this article is about. Read on and find out how check the integrity of the hard drive in Windows.

Different ways to check the health of your hard drive

1. Using the Windows built-in CHKDSK tool

Probably the easiest and most convenient method to evaluate the integrity of your computer's hard drive via CHKDSK. An abbreviation for Check Disk, CHKDSK is the integrated Windows system tool capable of scanning the hard disk (partitions) for logical errors, file system problems and bad sectors. Not only that, it can also correct file system errors and attempt to recover bad sectors. CHKDSK can be run either via the command prompt or via Windows Explorer. That's how:

Via Command Prompt

Start command prompt with administrator privileges and type " X: chkdsk "(without the quotation marks). Here X indicates the drive letter of the hard disk partition to be scanned. Chkdsk will now scan the disk partition and display the scan report when finished.

Via Windows Explorer

Right-click on the disk partition to scan and click properties . Now, in the card Tools, click the button Check now and CHKDSK do the rest.

In a nutshell, if you only want to run basic diagnostics to check if the hard drive is working properly, CHKDSK is more than enough.

2. Use of advanced third-party hard drive utilities

The Windows native CHKDSK tool just discussed does a good job of checking the state of the hard drive, but too basic. To obtain a detailed analysis of the health parameters of the hard disk, it is better to use third-party utilities. There are many available, two of which are briefly discussed below:

HDDScan

One of the most powerful disk monitoring applications, HDDScan automatically detects hard drives connected to the computer and displays information such as model name, firmware number and serial ID. It can also be used to test the hard drive (s) for everything from bad blocks to bad sectors.

But not all of it. The main functionality of HDDScan involves performing SMART tests on the hard disk and returning the analyzed data. Essentially, SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) is a monitoring system included on all hard disks and solid state drives, which provides information on the general reliability of the disks. This is calculated on the basis of certain parameters (e.g. . Raw reading error rate, search time yield, number of spin repetitions ). To view SMART statistics for the disk, all you need to do is click on the homonymous button. The HDDScan SMART report describes the calculated value of all attributes, as well as the threshold for them. The report can be printed out as well.

In addition to this, HDDScan supports numerous other tests. These tests can be queued to run one after the other, through the Test Manager window. Some of them are as follows:

  • Surface tests: it can be used to read / write data on certain areas of the hard disk (or all of them) to see if the disk is working properly.
  • SMART Offline Test: includes two types of tests, that is Short (lasts 1-2 minutes) e Extended (lasts 0, 5-2 hours). As a result, these tests scan part or all of the surface of the hard drive to see if some sectors show read / write errors. There is also a third test of Conveyance, but it was not possible to run it during our tests.

Extended SMART results window, displayed during our tests.

  • Temperature monitor: used to monitor disk temperature in real time.

You can view detailed information about a test at any time by double-clicking on its entry in the Test Manager window (refer to the screenshot above). All in all, if you're looking for a complete hard drive monitoring program that doesn't cost a dime, go to HDDScan.

Platform availability: Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista and XP.

Price: free.

Download

CrystalDiskInfo

The HDDScan previously argued without a doubt an excellent disk monitoring tool, but its numerous tests and stuff can be a little overwhelming to handle. here that CrystalDiskInfo can help. A light but robust portable application, generally includes all the features of HDDScan and displays SMART parameters, as well as detailed information on the status of the hard disk updated in real time. It can also be configured to trigger automatic email and audio alerts if the ongoing behavior of the hard drive begins to show signs of error.

However, CrystalDiskInfo doesn't have the plethora of tests that can be scheduled one after the other. Essentially, a well rounded application that shows detailed work statistics (SMART parameters, disk temperature, general status) of the hard disk in real time and therefore much simpler. So if you are looking for a disk monitoring utility that shows detailed information but is still easy enough to understand, go to CrystalDiskInfo.

Platform availability: Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista and XP.

Price: free.

Download

3. Use of disk-specific diagnostic utilities

Almost all famous disk manufacturers have diagnostic tools that can be used in the same way to check the health of your hard drive. So if you want to use a utility developed by your computer's hard drive manufacturer, you can always do so. Here is a list of some of these diagnostic utilities, from the major disk distributors:

SeaTools (by Seagate)

Being essentially of the same functionality as HDDScan, SeaTools it can be used to perform multiple short and extensive tests on hard drives to detect read / write errors, bad sectors, etc. It can also read the information as detailed by the SMART parameters.

Data Lifeguard Diagnostic (by Western Digital)

It generally has the same set of features as the other major disk check utilities. Data Lifeguard Diagnostic can perform short and long read / write tests, as well as analyze SMART data.

Drive Fitness Test (by Hitachi)

Drive Fitness Test it can be used to test hard drives for read and write errors, without overwriting existing data on disks. It also includes utilities to erase data from the hard drive.

time to start checking the health of the hard drive

It is of the utmost importance that hard drives (or SSDs) are routinely analyzed to detect any signs of problems, so that important data can be backed up promptly. And as seen above, doing it is not that difficult. If you only want basic disk monitoring and error checking, use the built-in Windows CHKDSK tool. And if you prefer a much more detailed analysis, go to disk utilities like HDDScan and CrystalDiskInfo. Try them and see how they work for you. Aware of the similar disk check utilities that could have been included above? Mention in the comments below.