Category Archives: Hard Drive Tools

How’s Your Hard Drive? – Check It Out With These Free HD Tools

Hard Drive DiagAll 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.

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Fast facts:

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.

Western Digital Support

Samsung

Seagate

Please note that since Seagate purchased Maxtor, the download sites are identical.

Maxtor

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.

auslogics_disk_defrag

Fast facts:

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

CCleaner

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.

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Fast facts:

Frees up valuable hard disk space

Advanced features to remove unused and old entries

Comprehensive backup feature

System tray icon

Privacy tool

Download at: Download.com

Glary Utilities

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.

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Fast Facts:

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

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.

disk heal

Fast facts:

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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Filed under Computer Maintenance, Computer Tune Up Utilities, Disk Cleaners, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Maintenance, Hard Drive Tools, Portable Applications, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Xinorbis: Free Disk Analyzer Software

Guest writer Ishan, takes a look at a freeware disk space analyzer – Xinorbis. Will this application do the job, or should you look elsewhere?

Irrespective of size of hard drive, sooner or later, hard drives run out of space. I have had experience working on computers ranging from 512 MB hard drive space, to more than 100 GB space, and it was just a matter of time that I would run out of space. All those pictures, music, and videos eat up the available space. When I run into this situation, I always turn for help to a free disk space analyzer.

A disk analyzer is an application that will analyze your hard drive for space usage, and will report which files are taking most of the space. This information is really handy if you want to free up space on your hard drive.

One such free disk space analyzer is Xinorbis. This is not the most user friendly software in the market, but it provides pretty good information.

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When you start it, you can specify the drive or folder that you want to do your disk space analysis on. I tried it on my C drive that is around 20GB in size. It took a few minutes to complete the initial scan. Again, not the fastest scan on the market.

Once the scan was completed, it did not give me any notification. Just a row was added to “Scan History” section. I was expecting to see some results after the scan. Then I started looking around and found that I have to use links on the left side to see the results. Not intuitive at all. (In fact, I ended up doing a scan again thinking that first scan did not complete.)

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In the Left section, you will see a section called “Tasks”. The first item under this is “Summary”. Clicking on this gives you a quick summary of your disk usage in text format. You might want to skip this one, and move over to “Folder Properties” on Left side. This is where all the meat is.

This will show you a report in tabular format about all the folders, number of files in each, disk space occupied by each, and percentage of space occupied. This is where you will be able to identify culprit files, and folders, that are hogging your disk space. This information is also available in a graph on the left to visually see your biggest folders.

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To analyze any folder further, just double click on its name in the table, or in the graph. This will open up a report about all the files in that folder, organized in order of size. You will be quickly able to see the biggest files.

Some other options that you will find helpful are:

Tab for Type. This shows disk space usage based on file type. Comes very handy to see if media files are the culprit.

Tab for Dates. This shows space occupied by files based on their date of creation. This would be handy to find how much space are the old files occupying.

Top 101: This shows top files across all the folders that are occupying most of the space.

Xinorbis has some other options also, such as an HTML report, and advanced reports, but I didn’t find them particularly useful.

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Overall, Xinorbis is a good application in terms of the information it provides, but, it could have been made more user friendly, and performance could have been definitely improved.

System requirements: Windows.

Download at: Freshney.org

Ishan is a Freeware Savvy tech blogger, who blogs at I Love Free Software, and Netbook Freeware.

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Filed under Computer Maintenance, Diagnostic Software, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Tools, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Save Your Dead PC with These Outstanding Free Recovery Tools

Sitting down, pushing the start button on your PC only to have it refuse to boot, will fit right in with anyone’s definition of frustration. It’s almost a personal thing – “why are you doing this to me?” But all is not lost.

Before you consign your dead PC to the garbage dump, or start considering just what kind of boat anchor you might craft, you should know that there are some terrific free tools that can help you recover. These free applications are at the “Top of the Class”, in my view.

I’m not suggesting that you download them all but, if you have some spare CDs – why not? Or, do a little info gathering on the author’s site – then choose those that best meet your specific needs.

If I’ve missed one of your favorites that you feel should be on this list, then let me know with your comments.

Hiren’s Boot CD

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Hiren’s Boot CD is a boot CD containing various diagnostic programs such as partitioning agents, system performance benchmarks, disk cloning and imaging tools, data recovery tools, MBR tools, BIOS tools, and many others for fixing various computer problems. Downloading this application is a bit of a hassle since ownership of some of the utilities on the CD is open to interpretation.

Ultimate Boot CD for Windows

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A terrific recovery CD for repairing, restoring, or diagnosing computer problems, but since it involves hands on “building skills” to compile the necessary tools, it’s not for everyone. Nevertheless, for those who have the skills, this utility is a “must have”.

Trinity Rescue Kit

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Trinity Rescue Kit or TRK is a free live Linux distribution that aims specifically at recovery and repair operations on Windows machines, but is equally usable for Linux recovery issues.

Ubuntu Live CD

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Can’t boot into Windows? Can’t figure out how you’re going to rescue all that data that you can’t reach? Ubuntu Live CD can come to the rescue. Need to connect to the Internet as part of your recovery process? No problem – Ubuntu Live CD makes it easy.

Specialty Recovery Tools:

Comodo Time Machine

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This innovative utility takes snapshots of your PC and archives those snapshots so that if you experience a computer problem (like a malware or virus attack), you simply revert back in time to one of the snapshots you had previously taken. In other words, if you mess up your PC and you have the Comodo Time Machine software installed, you can go back in time to restore your PC to a previous good state.

Kaspersky Rescue Disk

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This rescue CD can scan your boot sector, and your Hard Drives from the outside looking in. Malware doesn’t have a chance to hide if it’s not running. It’s become the first step I now use when I’m dealing with an infected machine.

Avira AntiVir Rescue System

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Avira AntiVir Rescue System is a Linux-based application that allows accessing computers that cannot be booted anymore. Thus it is possible to, repair a damaged system, rescue data, scan the system for virus infections.

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Filed under Backup Tools, Comodo, computer repair, Diagnostic Software, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Hard Drive Tools, Software, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Download Paragon’s FREE Rescue Kit Express

Popular guest writer Rick Robinette, has a knack for finding great free applications. Paragon Free Rescue Kit, one of Rick’s latest finds, professionally fixes boot problems as well as retrieves your data when your system fails to boot. It even rescues deleted partitions

During my research and testing of Paragon’s FREE edition of Backup and Recovery, I happened to notice that they also have available for FREE, a Rescue Kit.

To use the FREE Rescue Kit, you must acquire a registration (serial # and product key) from  [ HERE ] . This may sound like a hassle to go through, but this disk, once created, may be helpful in recovering data from your PC when disaster occurs.

Key Features

Worry-Free Data Protection with Paragon’s Bootable Recovery CD

Don’t wait for disaster strike before using Rescue Kit. Burn the software on your CD/DVD and be prepared for any situation.

Easily Fix Boot Problems

Boot Corrector option resolves various problems you may encounter during the system boot process. These problems may be caused by program errors, user mistakes, or become the results of boot virus activity. Boot Corrector allows you to cure the majority of boot problems for Windows Operating System and gives you access to your data!

Rescue Your Data

In case of a system malfunction, caused either by a virus attack or file corruption, you can retrieve valuable information from your disks and copy it to another local drive, partition or save the data to CD/DVD. The File Transfer Wizard helps you to export data as easy and convenient as possible.

Undelete Partition

When simply deleting a partition (without additional wiping) disk management software only removes the references to it in the Partition Table, thus leaving the possibility to recover it later. The Undelete Partitions Wizard enables you to find and recover these partitions. A restored partition will be fully functional, as long as other partitions were not created, moved or exceeded the disk space.

System requirements: Windows Me/2000/XP/Vista/7

Download at: Softpedia.com

This is a guest post by Rick Robinette, who brings a background as a security/police officer professional, and as an information technology specialist to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Rick’s site at What’s On My PC. Like me, you’re sure to become a frequent visitor.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under downloads, Free File Recovery Applications, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Hard Drive Problems, Hard Drive Tools, Software, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

System Mechanic – A One Stop Pit Stop for Computer Maintenance

Life is full of the inevitable – that’s just the way it is. One such inevitable occurrence is – a computer running a Windows based operating system will slow down over time.

Most Windows users, at one time or another, will be faced with this common occurrence – a misbehaving machine which is no longer the speed demon it once was; slow to start up, and operating at less than maximum efficiency.

The net result? Let me give you a couple of quotes from a recent study published by the Customer Experience Board

“The reality is that numerous, persistent problems are troubling most computer users, creating unnecessary anguish and anxiety as a result.”

“Digitally dependent users are getting fed up and frustrated with the current state of computer related stress, and clearly looking for a better way to address and reduce it.”

But, let’s face facts; PCs don’t slow down without a reason. All computers have characteristic operating patterns that lead to predictable, but preventable, issues.

The key is – proper maintenance. Proper maintenance, practiced regularly, can keep a Windows based PC running smoothly, and at peak performance, for years.

Part of what we do here regularly is: we seek out free, quality applications, that help users identify the most common problems that have impact on a computer’s speed and behavior, and then match the problems with the appropriate free software solution.

So does this type of approach work for an average user? Not according to my friends, it doesn’t. Most of my computing friends, who are typical users, do not read my articles.

The most common reasons I hear are “it’s just too complicated”, “even the free tools you recommend are hard for me to understand”, “I don’t have the time, or the patience, to follow your advice”, and more.

So what have I taken away from this? I’ve come to the conclusion, that in today’s more complex computing age, most average users, like my friends, do not have the skill set required to drill down through complex structures to correct performance issues that negatively impact their computing experience.

Not surprisingly then, most typical users that I meet, including my friends, run computers that underperform in virtually all areas. They could get so much more out of their system, if they only knew how. And that brings me to System Mechanic.

System Mechanic is an overwhelmingly inclusive application that encompasses virtually every tool, and applet, that a computer user is ever likely to need to maintain and tweak a machine.

I kid you not when I tell you System Mechanic has the ability to carry out literally hundreds of tests that have the ability to uncover virtually every possible issue affecting a PC’s performance, and reliability.

Installation is simple, following which you will have the opportunity to run System Mechanic for the first time. On launch you will be presented with the following screen.

(All screen shots are taken from my test machines).

System analysis is extremely fast. The Quick Analysis took under a minute on my Windows 7 machine, and the Deep Analysis took less than 6 minutes on the same machine.

System Mechanic 4

System Mechanic 5

The following screen partially represents the results of a Deep Analysis

System Mechanic 6

Tool, tools, and more tools; each one designed to address specific system issues, are a strong point of System Mechanic – as the following screen capture illustrates.

Additionally, each tool is broken down into sub- categories, giving the user fine control over relative issues. This option is more for power users, in my view.

System Mechanic 7

System Mechanic 8

Fast facts:

ActiveCare – automatically and effortlessly fixes and maintains your PC during idle time, keeping your system running like new.

Optimize your PC for peak performance

Repair problems and errors, and prevent them from recurring

Clean up system clutter

Fix security vulnerabilities

Maintain reliability and speed

Cleans, defrags, & repairs registry

Accelerates PC startup 19 ways

Defrags & recovers orphaned RAM

Defrag

Complete low-level drive defrag

Turns off unused background programs

Perform dozens of performance boosting optimizations in one step

Straightforward actions to fix all problems or only those you want

PC Health Status Gadget for Windows 7 and Vista

Fix:

  • Registry errors and fragmentation
  • Unnecessary startup programs
  • Dangerous startup programs
  • Hard drive errors and fragmentation
  • Excessive system clutter
  • Broken shortcuts
  • Unoptimized internet speed settings
  • Security vulnerabilities
  • Antivirus and firewall issues
  • Old or missing registry backups

Conclusion: I have to admit I was astonished by the inclusiveness of this application. If an issue exists that System Mechanic does not have a tool for (either automatic, or manual), I’d be very surprised, and I looked – hard!

Despite the fact I keep my test machines well tuned (not quite as well as my principal machine, though), the two machines I tested System Mechanic on, ran noticeable faster after System Mechanic had its way with them.

If you’re an average user, disappointed with your computer’s performance, or you’re just tired of having to deal with reoccurring unexplained issues, System Mechanic is worth every penny of its $39.95 purchase price.

BTW, one copy of System Mechanic can be installed on up to three machines.

System requirements: Windows 7/Vista/XP (64 or 32-bit).

Download a trial version at: The developer’s site – (Iolo).

Update – May 9, 2010: Reader, Mike, has advised me this morning, Iolo currently has a limited time special offer – both System Mechanic and Search and Recover (combined value $90), for $39.95. For access to this special offer go here.

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Filed under Cleaning Your Computer, Computer Maintenance, downloads, Hard Drive Tools, Registry Cleaners, Slow Computer, Software, Software Trial Versions, System Tweaks, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Download IObit Smart Defrag – Defragging the Smart Way

Defrag Some Techs insist, that a fragmented Hard Drive is the primary cause of system slowdown. I think the system slowdown issue is far more complex.

In a real sense, it is difficult to measure an increase in system performance following Hard Drive defragmentation. Nevertheless, I do agree, that defragging is a positive maintenance process, and should be done regularly.

A  quick recap on disk fragmentation: What is it?

Creating and deleting files and folders, installing new software, and downloading files from the Internet, will cause a Hard Drive to become fragmented. 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.

To keep fragmentation to a minimum, my Hard Drives are continuously being defragged. I run the paid version of TuneUp Utilities 2010 in the background, which continuously optimizes, amongst other things, my computer’s hardware, including automatic disk defragging.

The latest release (January 07, 2010 ), of the award winning free system tool, IObit Smart Defrag , can also run on this type of “set and forget” basis. I occasionally hear from users that they can’t remember the last time they defragged their disk/s – they’ll get to it – eventually. But, they don’t have to – IObit Smart Defrag, can do this for them on a continuous basis.

The 8 million plus downloads of this application from CNET, and an average user rating of 4 Stars, speaks to the value of this small application, and to the popularity of defragging.

IObit Smart Defrag is extremely easy to use, fast and efficient, and best of all, it’s free. The user interface is uncluttered and as simple to follow as any I’ve seen.

The following screen captures illustrate, just how easy it is to get IObit Smart Defrag up and running.

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Fast facts:

Extremely Easy to Use

Its intuitive interface makes Smart Defrag the ideal utility for computer novices.

Exceptionally Efficient Defragmentation

Smart Defrag has the world’s fastest defragmenting engine. It’s been specially designed for modern, large hard drives.

Smart Defrag doesn’t just use simple defragmentation. It also streamlines your file system, places the frequently used files and directories into the fastest area of the disk, enabling your computer to run at top speed with the most stability.

Always-on – Smart Defrag works automatically and quietly in the background, so it continually and constantly keeps your computer fragment-free.

Smart Defrag has a “Safe Intelligence” technology that can assure the health of your disk by deciding when, and how, to execute defragmentation.

Free for  personal, business, and enterprise servers.

Languages: English, Danish, German, Finnish, Dutch, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Serbian, Turkish, Russian, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, Czech, 简体中文, and more.

System requirements: Windows 7, 2003, Me, 98, 2000, Vista, NT, XP, Server 2008 ((32-bit and 64-bit).

Download at: Download.com

Note: Before you begin a scheduled defrag process I recommend that you run a program such as CCleaner, which will empty your Recycle Bin, Temporary Internet Files folder, and other locations, where clutter tends to accumulate on your PC.

As well, you should consider uninstalling any applications you no longer use. Revo Uninstaller is a free utility that will uninstall unneeded applications more thoroughly than the Windows native uninstaller.

These steps are not absolutely necessary but, they are a good practice.

A big “Thank You”, to regular reader RoseD1st, who brought this application to my attention.

IObit offers a whole whack of free applications including Advanced SystemCare Free, Smart Defrag, Game Booster, Advanced Uninstaller, Security 360 Free, Random Password Generator and Manager , and of course, Smart Defrag.

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Filed under Computer Maintenance, Defraggers, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Maintenance, Hard Drive Tools, Software, System Utilities, TuneUp Utilities, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Free License – O&O DriveLED 3 Hard Drive Monitor

Regular reader Kingpin, pointed out this morning that O&O Software is offering a free license (regularly $29.99), for their Hard Drive monitoring application, DriveLED 3.

As we’ve pointed out here in the past, in articles such as “Check, Maintain, and Clean Your Hard Drive With Free Tools”, there’s no question that Hard Drives fail – I’ve had to deal with three failures, personally, in the past two years.

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?

An application like DriveLED 3 can take the guesswork out of the equation, and make it easier for you to diagnose what’s really happening inside the complex environment of your Hard Drive.

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Since this offer is available only through the developer’s site, I have no way of knowing how long this offer will last. If you’re interested in this application, now is the time to download.

From the developer’s site:

Although O&O DriveLED won’t let you avoid a system crash entirely, it can let you know early enough whenever there’s trouble on the horizon. O&O DriveLED 3 is a reliable partner that accurately tells you when it is time to backup your important data with O&O DiskImage, or even to replace the hard disk.

Quietly running in the background, the new O&O DriveLED 3 permanently monitors the status of your hard disks With the help of S.M.A.R.T. (Self Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology), O&O DriveLED 3 analyses the health state of your hard disks and warns you in the event of potential malfunctions.

Immediately after installation O&O DriveLED 3 provides you with the ability to make an intensive analysis of all of your hard disks. Every hard disk that supports S.M.A.R.T. is able to run self tests.

Using O&O DriveLED 3 you can start a self-test of your hard disk with only one click of your mouse. During the tests several parameters and functions are systematically checked, including the interface, the surface and the mechanics, including every read head. In addition, the error log will be analyzed and the S.M.A.R.T. system itself will be tested.

If there were no failures found, the corresponding indicator will be lit up green. If some failures occurred, O&O DriveLED 3 will notify you. In this case, it is recommended to backup your data.

While O&O DriveLED 3 makes it possible for you to see your hard drive‘s built-in LEDs on your computer screen, this is just the beginning. In addition, you now have the possibility of monitoring all of your virtual drives, such as network drives, being able to clearly distinguish between read-access and write-access.

Note: Registration is required.

System requirements: Windows 2K,  XP, 2003, Vista, XP, 2008, Win 7 (64 bit support on Vista and Win 7)

Download at: O&O Software

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Filed under Diagnostic Software, downloads, Free Full Versions, Hard Drive Problems, Hard Drive Tools, Software, Software Giveaways, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Check, Maintain, and Clean Your Hard Drive With Free Tools

Hard Drive DiagThere’s no question that Hard Drives fail – I’ve had to deal with three failures, personally, in the past two years.

Fortunately, today’s Hard Drives rarely fail without a warning of failure given well in advance. 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 applications take the guesswork out of the equation, and they make it easier than ever to diagnose what’s really occurring inside the complex environment of the Hard Drive.

Active Hard Disk Monitor

Active Hard Disk Monitor is a freeware disk utility that checks and monitors the status of your hard drives to help prevent data loss. The system is based on the Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T).

The application can be launched automatically at Windows startup and monitor the system in the background. An icon in the System Tray can display the temperature for selected HDD(s).

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Fast facts:

Hard Disk performance monitoring and control

Based on Self Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology (or S.M.A.R.T.)

Able to scan and display bad sectors on a disk’s surface.

Displays current S.M.A.R.T. attributes

Can be launched automatically at Windows startup and monitor the HDD(s) in the background

Includes System Tray icon temperature status

Can generate event log and S.M.A.R.T reports

Download at: Download.com

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.

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Fast facts:

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

Don’t forget, Hard Drive diagnostic software is offered free from all the major Hard Drive manufacturers. Check out their sites.

Western Digital Support

Samsung

Seagate

Please note that since Seagate purchased Maxtor, the download sites are identical.

Maxtor

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 December, 2009), 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.

auslogics_disk_defrag

Fast facts:

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

CCleaner

Running a Hard Disk cleaner such as CCleaner (updated January, 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.

ccleaner2

Fast facts:

Frees up valuable hard disk space

Advanced features to remove unused and old entries

Comprehensive backup feature

System tray icon

Privacy tool

Download at: Download.com

Disk Heal

Disk Heal 1.48 (updated August, 2009), 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.

disk heal

Fast facts:

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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Filed under Computer Maintenance, Diagnostic Software, Disk Cleaners, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Maintenance, Hard Drive Problems, Hard Drive Tools, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Partition Your Hard Drive Freely with Partition Wizard

imageThere are a number of sound reasons to partition today’s large Hard Drives. The best reason I can think of (from a personal perspective), for partitioning is simply this – data organization.

Additional good reasons to partition could include, keeping your valuable data separate from the operating system so that if you are faced with an OS reinstall following an infection, you can do so without losing irreplaceable data. As well, a multiple boot configuration, which allow users to have more than one operating systems on a computer, requires multiple partitions.

While we’re talking about an OS reinstall following a malware infection, let me just remind you that partitioning is NOT a substitute for backing up your important data. Hard Drives can, and do, fail – much more often than most people realize. A good backup strategy is an absolute must.

On my new Windows 7 machine I have only one Hard Drive (although my other machines have multiple internal Hard Drives), so I have partitioned this drive as follows:

  • Partition 1 – Operating system and programs
  • Partition 2 – Data files
  • Partition 3 – Research projects
  • Partition 4 – Videos
  • Partition 5 – Music
  • Partition 6 – Photos

The are a number of free partitioning applications available for download over the Internet, but the one I have found to be the most useful, and easiest to use, particularly for those users who are less technically inclined is, Partition Wizard (last updated December 23, 2009).

Partition Wizard 2

Partition Wizard with its simple user interface allows you to easily create, delete, format, move, and resize partitions. Users of 64 bit systems are in luck -Partition Wizard supports Windows Vista and Windows 7, 64 bit.

The Main interface of Partition Wizard has five parts: Tool Bar, Action panel, Legend bar, Disk map, and Disk / Partition List.

  • In the Tool Bar, some of the common functions of managing partitions are listed.
  • The Action Panel divides the functions into two sections: Partition Operations and Disk Operations. It also shows the partitioning operation commands not yet carried out by user.
  • The Legend bar at the bottom of the screen displays the different kinds of legends with various colors used in Partition Wizard.
  • The Disk Map gives an intuitive preview of the partitions, or the free spaces.
  • The Disk / Partition List shows all the disks and partitions in the system as well as detailed information about them.

After selecting a partition, you can carry out any of the numerous partitioning functions through the top menu, Tool Bar, Action Panel, or through the left click and right click of the mouse.

Some operations will require the computer to restart. When prompted, Partition Wizard will restart the computer and log in Windows in Native Mode to continue the unfinished operations. After your confirmation of restart, Partition Wizard will carry out this task automatically.

Partition Wizard 3

Fast facts:

Resize/ Move partitions

Create partitions

Delete partitions

Change Partition Label

Delete all partitions

Format partitions

Convert file system

Explore Partition

Check Partitions

Recovery Partition

Wipe disk

Wipe partition

Copy partition

Copy disks

Initialize to MBR disk

Initialize to GPT disk

Supported File System: Supports the most commonly used Windows file systems, including FAT12, FAT16, FAT32 and NTFS.

Supported Hard Disks: Partition Wizard supports all hard disks recognized by Windows such as IDE, SATA, SCSI, USB external disks, Fire wire disks and so on. Partition Wizard also supports RAID devices. All OS-recognized RAID devices can be handled by Partition Wizard. Moreover, Partition Wizard supports disks with capacity up to 2TB. It will support up to 32 disks.

Download at: Download.com

Note: This edition is free for home uses only. However, there is a business edition, also free, which can be downloaded at Download.com.

A little extra something: A Partition Wizard Bootable CD is available, which allows users to boot a computer directly into Partition Wizard to manage partitions. Features include Rebuild MBR, Partition Recovery, Move/Resize Partition, Copy Partition, Create Partition, Delete Partition, Format Partition, Convert File System, Hide/Unhide Partition, Explore Partition and more.

Download Partition Wizard Bootable CD at: Partition Wizard

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Filed under downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Tools, Software, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

New Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1 – Now with Disk Optimizer

A  quick recap on disk fragmentation: What is it?

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.

My Hard Drives are continuously being defragged. I run the paid version of TuneUp Utilities 2010 in the background which continuously optimizes, amongst other things, my computer’s hardware, including automatic disk defragging.

If you think this is overkill – fair enough. But, the application can do it, it does a great job of doing it, and I’m a fan of “set and forget”.

TuneUp Utilities 1

The latest release (November 18, 2009), of the highly regarded free system tool, Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1, can also be run on a  “set and forget” basis. I occasionally hear from users that they can’t remember the last time they defragged their disk/s – but they’ll get to it – eventually. But they don’t have to – Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1, can do it for them on a continuous basis.

Auslogic defragger 4

Despite the fact that their is some disagreement as to the value of defragging modern Hard Drives, there is a slight leaning in the tech community toward defragmentation being a positive maintenance process. I support this point of view.

Almost 5 million downloads of this application from CNET, and an average user rating of 4.5 Stars speaks to the value of this small application and to the popularity of defragging.

The last time I reviewed  this application in August, 2008, the CNET download total stood at just over 2 million. This major increase in the number of downloads is a considerable proof statement that this application deserves a place in your toolbox.

Auslogics Disk Defrag 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 best of all, it’s free.

The user interface is uncluttered and as simple to follow as any I’ve seen. The following graphics illustrate just how easy it is to get Auslogics Disk Defrag up and running.

Auslogic defragger 2

Auslogic defragger 3

There are loads of free disk defraggers available for download, but they are not necessarily all created equal. The following graphic illustrates some of the difference between Auslogics Disk Defrag, and a number of other free apps you may be familiar with.

image

Before you begin a scheduled defrag process I recommend that you run a program such as CCleaner, which will empty your Recycle Bin, Temporary Internet Files folder, and other locations where clutter tends to accumulate on your PC.

As well, you should consider uninstalling any applications you no longer use. Revo Uninstaller is a free utility that will uninstall unneeded applications more thoroughly than the Windows native uninstaller.

These steps are not absolutely necessary but, they are a good practice.

Auslogics disk defrag quick facts:

Improve computer performance and stability

Increase your productivity – no more waiting for files to open

Fast and safe defragmentation of the disk drives

Optimization of clusters’ structure and file system for even better disk performance

Useful disk fragmentation map that displays defragmentation process in real time

Simple and intuitive user interface

Comprehensive defragmentation report

Extremely low system resources usage

Defragment USB/memory sticks

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista/XP/2000/2003, 32-bit and 64-bit and dual-core CPU supported.

Download at: Download.com

Auslogics Disk Defrag Portable A portable version Auslogics Disk Defrag is available as a single exe application, which can be copied to a USB drive and then used on any PC without installation.

Download at: Softpedia

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Filed under Cleaning Your Computer, Defraggers, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Maintenance, Hard Drive Tools, Portable Applications, Software, System Utilities, TuneUp Utilities, USB, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools