Hard Drives in general are considered the most vulnerable component of a computer system. This is particularly true for the hard drives with mechanical parts such rotating platters and other moving parts (not SSDs etc.). So, it is very important to backup your data at regular time intervals to ensure safety against any disaster in the future. In addition, it is a also a good idea to evaluate the important performance metrics about the HDD once in a while to keep a check on its health. In case of some early signs of degraded performance indicators data can be backed up in advance before a disaster strikes.
There are a lot of tools available that can be used to discover detailed performance statistics about the different performance metrics of a HDD. One of the more feature packed free tool that I have discovered lately is called HDDScan. It is a free utility that can do detailed HDD diagnostic such as bad sector/bad block detection, detailed SMART information and changing of some HDD parameters such as AAM, APM etc. It can also conduct different performance tests such as reading speed in linear and random mode and erasing speed etc. HDDScan supports many other features as well. A more detailed list of the supported features as well as a list of supported storage devices is as follows:
Supported storage devices:
- IDE (ATA) and SATA HDD.
- SCSI (SAS) HDD.
- External USB drives and all major USB boxes (see Appendix A).
- FireWire or IEEE 1394 HDD (see Appendix A).
- RAID volumes made of ATA (IDE) / SATA / SCSI HDDs (surface tests only).
- USB Flash (pen drives) – surface tests only.
- SATA / ATA SSD – solid state drives (NEW).
Storage device tests:
- Verification in linear mode – helps to determine if your drive needs data rescue, has recoverable errors or in its perfect shape.
- Reading in linear mode – simpler, but faster disk check.
- Erasing in linear mode.
- Reading in Butterfly mode (synthetic random read).
- Reading and analyzing SMART parameters from ATA/SATA/USB/FireWire HDD.
- Reading and analyzing Log Pages from SCSI HDD.
- SMART tests running on ATA/SATA/USB/FireWire HDD.
- Temperature monitor for ATA/SATA/USB/FireWire/SCSI HDD.
- Reading and analyzing identity information from ATA/SATA/USB/FireWire/SCSI HDD.
- Changing AAM, APM, PM parameters on ATA/SATA/USB/FireWire HDD.
- Reporting defect information on SCSI HDD.
- Spindle start/stop function on ATA/SATA/USB/FireWire/SCSI HDD.
- Reports can be saved in MHT format.
- Reports can be printed.
- Skins support.
- Command line support.
- SSD SMART and Identity reports (NEW).
HDDScan is a very nice system utility for detailed study of a HDD performance statistics in Windows and is pretty extensive in its feature set particularly considering the free nature of HDDScan.
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