All modern Hard Drives are equipped with a feature known as S.M.A.R.T. that provides real-time analysis and the reporting of any developing problems and potential issues. The big question is: can you read the warnings?
The following free application can take the guesswork out of the equation, and make it easier to diagnose what’s really occurring inside the complex environment of the Hard Drive.
Ariolic Disk Scanner
Disk Scanner is a tiny freeware utility to check the hard drive for read errors. Sometimes, you may notice, that some files on the disk cannot be read. This may happen for several reasons, but the most important one is the hard drive degradation, that may be the first typical sign of the disk failure.
Read-only test of hard drive volumes for read errors
Scan hard disk, flash drives, USB hard drives, CD/DVD, floppy
Disk Scanner does not require a setup – it’s portable. Run it directly from CD or a Flash drive
See the check result at a glance
Works with hard drives, flash disks, CD, floppy
Simple user interface
Download at: Ariolic Software
Hard Drive diagnostic software is offered free from all the major Hard Drive manufacturers. Check out their sites.
Please note that since Seagate purchased Maxtor, the download sites are identical.
Hard Drive Maintenance: Repair, Defrag and Disk Cleanup Tools
Fragmentation is caused by creating and deleting files and folders, installing new software, and downloading files from the Internet. When you delete files or folders, the first available empty spaces on the Hard Drive are filled in randomly when you create new files and folders, as you do when you save pics from your camera, install software, save emails, or create documents.
Hard Disk fragmentation makes the disk drive heads move more than necessary when reading files which can degrade performance over time, and can lead to system slowdowns, computer crashes, slow startups and shutdowns.
Auslogics Disk Defrag
The program (updated August 10, 2010 ), is extremely easy to use, does not require any analysis phase and is faster than most disk defragmentation software I’ve tested in the past, and it’s free.
In my view, it’s one more maintenance process in helping me get the maximum performance out of my hardware.
Improve computer performance and stability
Increase your productivity – no more waiting for files to open
Defragment disks in minutes
Disk fragmentation map and detailed fragmentation report
Download at: Download.com
Running a Hard Disk cleaner such as CCleaner (updated September 27, 2010), can optimize systems by emptying the Recycle Bin, Temporary Setup Files, Downloaded Program Files, Temporary Internet Files, Old Chkdsk Files, Temporary Files, Temporary Offline Files, Offline Files, and more.
Frees up valuable hard disk space
Advanced features to remove unused and old entries
Comprehensive backup feature
System tray icon
Download at: Download.com
Using Glary Utilities, you can tweak, repair, optimize and improve your system’s performance; and its ease of operation makes it ideal for less experienced users.
You can quickly find the tool you’re looking for: disk cleaner, uninstall manager, secure file deletion, memory optimizer, (a gentle) registry cleaner, duplicate file finder, tracks eraser, and empty folder finder.
Disk Cleaner Removes junk data from your disks and recovers disk space
Registry Cleaner scans and cleans your registry to improve your system’s performance
Shortcuts Fixer eliminates the errors in your start menu & desktop shortcuts
Startup Manager manages programs which run automatically on startup
Memory Optimizer monitors and optimizes free memory in the background
Tracks Eraser erases all traces, evidence, cookies, internet history and more
File Shredder erases files permanently
Internet Explorer Assistant manages Internet Explorer Add-ons
Disk Analysis provides detailed information files and folders
Duplicate Files Finder searches for space-wasting duplicate files
Empty Folders Finder removes empty folders (I love this feature)
Uninstall Manager completely uninstall programs
Download at: Download.com
A portable version is also available which you can download at GlarySoft.
Disk Heal is a free Windows NT, 2000, XP and Vista utility that may be able to restore the condition of your Hard Drive, or a USB Flash Drive.
This application is a very useful tool that has a host of additional capabilities, including recovering hidden files and performing system tweaks; all can be accessed with just one click.
Fixes disk problems
Fixes task manager inaccessibility
Fixes folder options inaccessibility
Fixes registry editor inaccessibility
Recovers hidden files and folders
Changes the default icon of any drive, external, internal, or a partition
Security and system tweaks
Download at: Download.com
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18 responses to “How’s Your Hard Drive? – Check It Out With These Free HD Tools”
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WOW! What a complete and great article!
Let me repeat that: WOW! What a complete and great article!
It’s articles like this that make this site (out of over 20) the first site that I visit every day.
The tool that I have found most useful is JV16 PowerTools 2010. It combines 7 Registry functions (I love the search and replace function), 8 file management functions, 6 system tools, 3 privacy tools,
a back up function for restoring anything changed by other functions, and a ton of settings that can be applied. I am not affiliated with the software company in any way–I’m just very happy that I found it.
About defragging — my C:\ drive is only about 20 % full, but it has non-movable files at about the 50 % mark. They’re some sort of system files but not the prefetch or page file. One is some sort of image file.
I want to partition this drive, but I have not found a defragger that will move these files to near the beginning of the disk during a consolidation defrag so that I can eliminate the unused space between the “normal files” and the non-movable files.
Yes, I agree JV16 PowerTools 2010 is a very comprehensive set of tools. Readers who would like to take this application for a 60 day test drive, can download it here – http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/file/fid,22765/description.html
The last time I heard from you (September 14), you mentioned this problem with unmovable files, so I’ll redirect you the same resource – take a look at Solved: Moving unmovable files- over at Tech Support Guy. http://forums.techguy.org/windows-xp/715815-solved-moving-unmoveable-files.html
Thanks for the link about defragging. It’s an excellent article, and answers almost all of my questions.
‘Pologize for missing your first answer to the question….
Glad you found that article useful.
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Yep, a great article, I agree. I’ve been using Auslogics for quite a while now, sleek and fast, love it. CCleaner I’ve been using for ten years now I think, a fantastic tool. Glary Utilities is part of the toolkit too, I run it quite regularly, I love the one click maintenance feature of the program.
In fact, I think all of the security/maintenance software I currently use I’ve heard of from your site. Keep up the excellent work, there are people out here who appreciate it.
I’ve tried them all (almost), but I still come back to Auslogics, CCleaner, and Glary Utilities. It’s kinda of funny – just when you think these 3 apps can’t get any better, they have a habit of adding just a little extra in their updated versions.
Just yesterday (UK time) I discovered errors in my PC’s Event Log showing Bad Block every so often. So I got Active@ Hard Disk Monitor to run a scan, but it found nothing. Everything showed green. I’m surprised you didn’t include this tool in your list. It can be found at http://www.disk-monitor.com.
I’m still worried about the errors. If the worst comes to the worst, there’s always Steve Gibson’s hard drive rescue and maintenance tool SpinRite at http://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm.
I’ve reviewed Active Hard Disk Monitor in the past. However, it is no longer free, and can’t be included in a list of “free” tools.
There’s a good article here on dealing with bad blocks. eHow – http://www.ehow.com/how_5009609_fix-bad-block-hard-drive.html
I didn’t realise Active Hard Disk Monitor was no longer free. I’ve had it installed for some months. And thanks for the link. It’s a Samsung drive, so I checked out the other link you provided to their site and downloaded their own tool, but there are warnings about destroying data and I don’t have a full disk backup so I think I’ll leave it alone for now.
Great list I use something called MHDD. It’s pretty geeky and not that simple to use at it runs off a bootable disk. http://hddguru.com/software/2005.10.02-MHDD/
I also use Spinrite for maintenance periodically and never have issues with drives.
great article bill as usual and so old news is new to me that seagate merged with maxtor and one more confusion seagate harddrive comes with 3 year warranty or 5 year????i used to think 5 year but mine one is showing 3 year using seatoools might be they have specified categories as i have seen 5 year warranty as well in shops
The warranty issue with *all* PC components can often be confusing. Much depends on the type of purchase – OEM, Gray Market, Major Brand PC, full retail purchase, and so on.
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