I recently purchased a Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 7200 RPM 32 MB cache hard drive for my desktop computer and I love it! It’s got loads of space and is super quiet.
However, when I received it from Newegg, I was not completely sure the drive would be working properly since it was wrapped in a little piece of bubble wrap and nothing else! Instead of copying a bunch of data to it and then losing it all if the drives craps out because of some kind of internal error, I decided to test it out with some free hard drive diagnostic tools.
Since I had a Western Digital drive, I ended up using the WD diagnostic tools for that specific model. Luckily, just about every major brand has their own diagnostic tools for hard drives.
In this post, I will list out the various tools that you can use to ensure the integrity of a hard drive.
Microsoft Error Checking (Chkdsk)
One hard drive testing tool that is already built into Windows is chkdsk. It will scan the entire hard drive and check for a wide range of possible errors.
You can access it my right-clicking on the drive in My Computer and choosing Properties. Then click on the Tools tab and under Error-checking, you’ll see the option Check Now.
Western Digital Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows
The Data Lifeguard Diagnostic tools for Western Digital drives includes both DOS and Windows versions and is written to test WD SATA I, SATA II, and IDE drives. Only use the DOS version if you are have a new system with no operating system installed.
It includes a Quick Test, Extended Test, and Write Zeros test. Note that you can also use these tools to test drives from a different manufacturer also.
Seagate has two sets of easy-to-use diagnostic tools called SeaTools, one for DOS and the other for Windows. The DOS version will test Seagate or Maxtor PATA, IDE, and SATA hard drives.
The Windows version will test any non-Seagate drive and supports more interfaces, such as USB, 1394, ATA, SATA, and SCSI. It checks for file system corruption, broken master boots record, driver corruption, and lots more.
You can perform a SMART check, short check, long check and other advanced tests.
Hitachi Drive Fitness Test
The Drive Fitness Test from Hitachi is a really quick and reliable way to test SCSI, SATA, and IDE hard drives. The test performs read test without overwriting any data already on the drive. It does not support USB or Firewire drives.
Maxtor PowerMax is designed to perform read/write diagnostic functions on Maxtor and Quantum hard drives only to ensure the integrity of the drives. This program is a bit old and really should only be used as a last resort. The other disk drive diagnostic utilities mentioned above are much better.
Those are pretty much all of the free tools out there that I can think of for testing hard drives! If you know of any others, please post a comment! Enjoy!