[Windows] Monitor the health of your hard drive (see when it will fail) with HDDScan

HDDScanIs your hard drive running the way it’s supposed to be running? Find out with HDDScan. This is a free hard drive diagnostics program. This program will test your hard drive for errors so you will know before your hard drive fails for good.

WHAT IS IT AND WHAT DOES IT DO

Main Functionality

HDDScan is a freeware program that allows you to check your hard drive for errors. It has the ability to check Flash USB, RAID arrays, and SSD drives. In other words, HDDScan can check basically any type of internal and external hard drive. The program will test for things like bad blocks and bad sectors, and S.M.A.R.T. attributes. In short, it runs a health test on your hard drive to help you predict a problem before your hard drive crashes on you for good.

The key way HDDScan helps predict hard drive failures is through S.M.A.R.T. warnings. S.M.A.R.T. — Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology — is an industry-standard hard drive test that looks at specific hard drive attributes and uses them to try to predict when, if, your hard drive will fail. S.M.A.R.T. isn’t perfect but it is the best we have got at this time to foresee hard drive failure before it occurs.

Pros

  • Helps you prevent data loss by finding problems before your hard drive crashes
  • Tests for bad blocks, bad sectors, and S.M.A.R.T. attributes
  • Offers other features to see the hard drive’s temperature and its reading and writing benchmark
  • Results of test are put into an easy-to-read graph
  • Reports can be saved in MHT format, as well as be printed out
  • It also offers skin and command line support
  • Completely portable
  • Easy-to-understand interface

Cons

  • False security: No program can completely predict when your hard drive may crash. If HDDScan reports no errors, this does not mean that you have nothing to worry about. Backing up your data is always recommended. HDDScan provides reasonable assurance as to the health of your drive, not complete assurance.

Discussion

HDD Scan ScreenshotEnsuring that your hard drive is in good health is very important. A lot of times, problems will start popping up with a hard drive long before it crashes. HDDScan can help you identify these problems and back up your hard drive before it crashes. This can help you prevent losing data.

The program is able to read and analyze information from ATA/SATA/USB/FireWire/SCSI HDD. It can also report defect information on SCSI HDD. Knowing this kind of information can save you a lot of problems later on.

If you don’t understand the information you are looking at, no problem. The program gives you the ability to print the reports that you make. Now you can share this information with others who may be able to give you a better understanding of what it all means.

Another cool feature of HDDScan is the fact that it is also able to report the internal temperature of your hard drive and give you a benchmark for your drive’s reading and writing speed. This is helpful information that was just included in this program. Although the information may not help you determine when your hard drive may crap out on you, it is still important information to know.

If there is one problem I have with this program, it is the fact that it can give you a false sense of security. Let’s say the program says that there were no errors found on your hard drive. You’re thinking, “Great, I can back up my stuff later.” However, you need to remember that no program is 100 percent accurate all the time. Even without any errors, your hard drive may crap out tomorrow. This isn’t typical, as most hard drives give some kind of warning before dying. Either way, it is still very important to back up your information on a regular basis, regardless of what this program says.

CONCLUSION AND DOWNLOAD LINK

HDDScan is a great program to use, and I honestly believe that it is a good idea for everyone to keep up with the state of their hard drive. That being said, don’t let the program give you a false sense of security. Remember, you still need to back up your data on a regular basis. After all, just like all electronics, it could crap out on you at any moment.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 3.3

Supported OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7

Download size: 3.64MB

VirusTotal malware scan results: 1/46

Is it portable? Yes

HDDScan homepage

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29 comments

  1. Louis

    [@conceptualclarity] I’d like at least 3, preferably 4 USB ports, and as of late, I’d like to see at least 2 of them being USB 3.0 ports (one to quickly plug in and out a flashdrive on the run, and another for plugging in my external HD when possible).

    Also, at least one should be on both sides, that’s very important from a practical perspective to me, as I currently use it as my main machine, so all kinds of devices plug into it from both sides on my desk, and port hubs typically have short cords, so don’t help much in that regard ! Some devices aren’t suitable to be plugged in via a USB hub, and need to be powered directly from the laptop.

    I’ve personally never used any of these 3 brands you mentioned, nor know anyone personally that’s used them. However, from reputation my impression is they are all good to excellent laptops.

    I think if one can afford a Sony, one probably can’t go wrong ! if anyone’s had a bad experience with a Sony, it would be interesting to hear about.

  2. conceptualclarity

    Thanks for your kindness, Louis, in supplying those links. It’s good to know about Dell’s corporate problems. The Dell Latitudes do seem very interesting with their design for durability. But the prices for them on the Dell site are excessive. I suspect the SSDs have a hand in that. I am willing to wait for when the time is really ripe for SSDs.

    “I’d like to be able to take a first hand look at a store, pick it up, check it out, like where are the ports…”

    Where do you want to see them?

    I hope there will be some who will offer opinions on Gateway, Sony, Samsung and others.

  3. Louis

    [@conceptualclarity] Hi, to be honest, I have no firsthand experience of Dell, South Africa being my homeland — afaik Dell is a “mail /online by order” company, that probably the reason I’ve seen so relatively few on display firsthand, even here in China. Similarly, I haven’t spoken too many (any) Dell owners.

    I’ve looked at a couple of links, but the message is a little unclear — quite a few mentions good build quality though. Hers 2 sites I just picked at random from a Google search on “Dell & quality ?”, that seems to be legit.

    http://blog.laptopmag.com/dell-brand-rating

    http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/dell-latitude-7000-laptop/

    Me, I’d like to be able to take a first hand look at a store, pick it up, check it out, like where are the ports, how’s the keyboard placed etc etc. So the concept of ordering one doesn’t appeal to me.

    This is probably where other dotTechies, especially from the US who’ve owned Dell laptops, will share their experiences with Dell — always the best kind of review is how did a laptop fare in real life conditions.

    Apologies for not being able to give better advice :-)

    As a side note : The company seems to have gone through a financial upheaval recently, which would make me hesitant to buy any of their products, good or not :

    http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/the-exchange/dell-last-stand-194848357.html

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505124_162-57587773/

    Personally, apart from Sony being too expensive for me, the 3 brands I would prefer in a laptop (meaning they survived my years of use well) is Toshiba, Asus & Lenovo.

    Those that didn’t cut it, under normal (for me, quite heavy) use were Acer, HP & Compaq.

    However, though I’ve used my laptops heavily, I always treat them with great care, so the failures mentioned above was due to their inherent weakness.

  4. DoktorThomas

    not a laptop fan.
    2 Ancient Sonys and 1/3 Ashton Digitals still operable.
    3/3 newer Dells DOA.
    Twice the price for half the computer. When they have 24″ screens and real kyds and mice may try another. (That’s a PC….)

    The software in the article doesn’t work on HP Compaq dc5700mt, XP SP3.

  5. ArtKns

    @Angele Roy:

    Acer is NOT a brand to buy if you are looking for reliability or support. The only thing going for it is “cheap” – unfortunately for all meanings of the word.

    If your laptop has not always run this hot and you have never cleaned it I would be 99% certain that it is just dust buildup that is causing your problems. As Louis said, dust is the bane of electronics equipment. [See http://www.google.com/search?as_q=dust+computer+horror for some really bad examples.]

    One should regularly blow the dust out of your machine, especially the heat sinks. Your CPU is a major source of and is especially vulnerable to heat. A spray can of “compressed air” (it’s not really air but a liquid that boils at a very low temperature), is your friend.

    Your hard drive is replaceable but if the CPU overheats and quits then it is goodbye laptop. I suggest installing Speedfan and setting it up to monitor your CPU and MB temps. Note the temps after a good cleaning and, later, when they start creeping up again, do another cleaning. Actually, note the temps BEFORE and after you clean it. You may be surprised. Post your results here.

    When you take your laptop apart, use your digital camera to record each step. Takes lots of pics to record locations of screws & connectors, orientation of components, etc. Use a small container WITH A LID to hold the screws and other small items. Alternatively, stick them to the covers with some masking tape to keep from losing them.

    Working on hardware isn’t as bad as some people would have you believe but your do need to exercise common sense.

  6. Louis

    A@Angele : Good idea to have a go at cleaning it out first — just be very careful, even some pro technicians won’t work on a laptop because of the risk of damaging something inside, touching some parts without grounding yourself can transfer static electricity. However, just do a Google, and you’re bound to find some detailed information on the exact procedure to follow when dismantling it (I used a few pieces of blank printing paper, and drew the top and bottom of the laptop, then placed some wonder putty on every spot where every little screw is supposed to go heheh).

    But once you’re in (if you can get hold of a can of compressed air, by all means use it, but keep it not too close to the insides to prevent moisture getting in there, and wait an hour or so before assembling it again — I could for the life of me not find a single can of air here in China, they seem not to know what I was talking about, or perhaps my Chinese need a lot more work hehe). So I reverted to a little careful brushing, but as I said, even that helped.

    Yes, so do that before you go buy another, if it it helps, you’ll have saved a bit !

    Happy New Year !

  7. Angele Roy

    @Louis:

    That is a lot of useful information people can use Louis, especially about the dust gathering inside. Perhaps by getting the dust out I can prolong making a purchase until the fall sales. Get more bang for the buck with a top of the line Toshiba, hence dependability.

    Am tired of replacing laptops every few years. The Acer was my last purchase and lasted almost one year, there isn’t any Acer repair place in Canada to honour the warranty. Acer never ever again. This Gateway, purchased prior to the Acer, has had the longest lifespan of all laptops so I knew it’s time would soon be up.

    It seems Southern China is a great testing ground for laptops. Toshiba it shall be, now that you have done the testing for us, and yes your knowledge is most helpful and much appreciated. Big Thank you Louis

    Angele

  8. Louis

    @Angele Roy : I’ve been working in Southern China for 2 years now, the the heat and humidity very high for most of the year — in these conditions I’ve bought a laptop Toshiba Satellite L675 with me, and it’s still going strong, despite the heat (a laptop’s worst friend), something that caused my previous laptop (an HP) to give up. My Toshiba is my workhorse, it runs virtually 24/7.

    About 4 months ago it did (obviously I guess) start to run up very high temperatures (100 + degr C at times according to CoreTemp — I suspected perhaps a dust build inside, so after getting instructions from the Internet, I opened up my laptop completely (with great trepidation I may add !) — I didn’t want to mess around sensitive areas too much, with static electricity etc, but did clean out some dust, although I really didn’t think it would be enough to make any difference.

    Well, was I surprised after I put it back together again ! 4 months down the line, and here my trusted Toshiba is still running at average 34 degr C.

    So in my opinion, based on my experiences with laptops (this is my personal experience after almost 2 decades of using laptops : HP and Acer are not built to last — get yourself a Toshiba, Lenovo or Asus).

    Yes, I can also speak highly of Asus — I have bought a little netbook Asus here in China at my arrival 2 years ago, because my Toshiba is a huge laptop (17″), so not so portable — the little Asus doesn’t run hot, and although unintentionally, has received a lot of abuse without any complaints.

    So, aside perhaps of Sony (which is beyond affordability to me), I think you’ve identified the correct 2 brands — personally I would go for the Toshiba if specs : prices are more or less the same, but if you can get an Asus with the same specs at a significantly lower price, then get it without any reasonable doubt !

    Hope this helps you — I’ve found magazine tests of new hardware, no matter how thorough, can’t really compare with the results one can speak of after actually using a machine heavily for two years +, it’s then that the good are distinguished from the bad (in my opinion).

  9. Angele Roy

    I too could not understand the program so did not purchase a new laptop, now the boxing day sales are gone, and tonight my laptop started to give out.

    So now I am looking at the difference between Asus and Toshiba, as they are laptops that are supposed to last the longest… while rotating frozen bags of veggies with frozen phony crab meat under the laptop to be able to keep it cool enough to work properly.
    Live and learn.

  10. NickK

    @ArtKns:
    Thank You for your reply and your thorough insight on SMART.

    I am new to SMART and only recently decided that I should attempt to understand it a little more. You are right about software developers providing a lack of info on SMART. Looking at the HDDscan web-site and trying to understand all its features really made my head hurt. Conveyance scans, short scans, verify scans, read scans, etc, etc, with a lot of ambigious tech jargon used to explain the differences between them all.

    Just a heads up, I did browse through the HDDScan forum’s and found that a few others had experienced the same problems as I did – however there are no solutions at this point in time and there haven’t been any solutions for more than 2 years. It appears version 3.3 has been around for a while and no updates have been provided since (It seems v 3.3 was released in Aug 2010). The issue I experienced with the short SMART scan, which completes a scan before a blink of the eye, appears to be a bug. Even the developer had ackowledged it as a bug in the forums, dated December 2010. It seems most reported issues are in reference to Windows 7 users. Most W7 users appear to recommend that HDDScan is run in XP compatibility mode.

    The only previous HDD scans I used to run was ChkDisk and surface scans using various HDD partitioning/system utility apps (which are probably just a front-end for ChkDisk anyway). I thought I’d give HDDScan a go since it had additional value-added features such as “SMART Scans” (even though I wasn’t sure what these were and how it worked). However, its SMART scan features appear not to work well – therefore I really have no use for HDDScan. I might try it again in the future if the software developer ever decides to provide an update. At this current moment, it appears to be half-baked, at least for Windows 7 users and since there hasn’t been an update for a long time, you’d really have to wonder whether the developer has decided to drop the ball on this one. The above is my personal experience with this utlity. Other users may have had a better experience (which might be dependent on their OS and how HDDScan interacts with their HDD firmware).

    Cheers,

  11. ArtKns

    Over the years I have tried many HDD SMART diagnostic tools and found all of them wanting. Not so much because of the tool but because the underlying “SMART” system is more of a joke than a useful tool.

    Although “SMART” is called a “standard” it is far from it – the only thing standard about SMART is the name.

    Each disk manufacturer makes up its own list of parameters to monitor, what to name them, even what units to use! The each “disk health” parameter has a binary threshold – good or bad, no grey – and again set by the mfg. Many of these thresholds are set to zero. These might help for a post mortum after a crash but are useless for impending failure warnings. The data values themselves are suspect: I have disks that have been running for many years, 24/7, that show a power-on time in the hundreds of hours. If one cannot trust a simple measurement such as power-on-time how can one have any faith in critical attributes/parameters such as corrected read errors or reallocated sector count?

    Then to make matters worse, “SMART” attribute values are “normalized” but, again, not to any standard – some to 100, some to 256 or to some other arbitrary number – or direction! It is near impossible to make any sense of the SMART reports – even the raw data values.

    Although I suspect some of my older drives are experiencing read errors, the SMART reports always say “perfect heath”. I have yet to get a useful warning of impending problems. As Justin says, “a false sense of security”. I have also yet to see a SMART diagnostic app that provides useful interpretation of the SMART attribute values. Some mfgs pack two, even three, attribute values into the raw attribute “word” (again, non-standard usage). And although the SMART software author would be the logical, centralized place to research and describe the meanings of these values, we just get a brush off with no helpful info.

    IMHO, this whole SMART “technology” is nothing more than a scam – a way for manufacturers to placate consumers and to create a market for SMART diagnostic software.

    All that being said, I have used Speedfan for years. But not so much for its SMART reports but for its temperature, voltage and fan speed monitoring. It not only monitors SMART disk attributes and temperatures but CPU, motherboard and add-in card parameters as well. In fact, it will monitor anything in your systems that has an accessible sensor.

    Speedfan is freeware, is stable, devoid of any malware, has been around for over ten years and is regularly updated. http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php

    Personally, I would judge (and use), a SMART diagnostic tool, not for its SMART reporting (which are all pretty much identical), but for its ancillary features – benchmarks, surface scanning, trend monitoring/graphing, etc.

  12. ArtKns

    @NickK:

    “Offline” means just that – Offline – not connected. It is non-sensical to think that an app is going to run when the OS is not!

    Not connected means no link or reliance to any external resource: no telephone line, no cable line, no wireless “line”, no network. Quite simple.

    A short test is short as all it may do is read the SMART data stored in the disk’s firmware.

  13. NickK

    Thanks Justin,

    I gave this go. It seems safe, no virus’s – scanned with AVG 2013 (Full Edition) and MBAM free.

    Does anyone know why the “SMART Offline Tests” are called “offline”, when these tests are actually performed when Windows is running, therefore its online? Perhaps just a case of the software developer using incorrect descriptions ? I tested both the SMART Offline “short test” and “conveyance test” and neither scheduled any scan’s during reboot as I was expecting – they just executed while running Windows. The “short test” was so short, less than 1 second, therefore I wonder whether it actually tested anything (maybe it did). The conveyance test triggered a few “access violation” pop-ups, therefore I assume windows (or some other app) would not allow it to test certain blocks.

    Anyone else test these features ??

    Cheers,

  14. anonymail

    I used Avast and Malware bytes, nothing found!
    Thanks Justin! I am super protective of my HD’s after a bad crash left me with nothing to salvage!
    This is one more tool to help avoid that!

    And Happy New Year!

  15. Goldenbarstewart

    @Ashraf: Yes – I was mistaken – on the left hand side of the author’s page is a green download icon – it is much more prominent than the actual download button so I gravitated to it it – that is why I got the ZOOM download setup rather than the proper download.

  16. Louis

    I’ve just downloaded the file(s) and scanned it with up to date paid commercial ESET NOD32 — no problems with the current download.

    I’ve relied on ESET for years, maybe there are better AV’s or maybe not, but their OK is good enough for me.

    Any other dotTechies with different top commercial AV software that shows a true positive on these files ?

    As for the software itself, it looks to be pretty impressive.

    Do your backups as usual, regardless. I’d say this is necessary software for someone like me, working abroad, who uses his laptop as a primary computer 24/7, due to the extreme heat buildup — especially here in Southern China..

  17. Goldenbarstewart

    I am disappointed that the download requires that I install a download manager called ZOOM which will replace my current download manager – that is not acceptable. VERY DISAPPOINTED!

  18. Angele Roy

    @Morgan:

    Thank you Morgan.

    LOL… I am not looking to fix this laptop but am looking at perhaps getting another laptop before an extended boxing day sale ends shortly. Yet if this laptop can make till Labour Day sales it would be nice to know. Thanks again.

  19. Steiniti

    @Morgan:
    Morgan, I am not a pro and I am sorry for your animosity, but the scan found Trojan/Banker.Agent.br. I looked it up and it said this was used for stealing bank and credit card info. Do you believe this is a false positive?

  20. Steiniti

    The program may be useful, but unless the trojan that comes with it can be easily removed, why risk having banking or credit card info being stolen. According to your virustotal scan, Trojan/Banker.Agent.brj was found in the download.