Data Storage Digest

Do-It-Yourself Windows File Recovery Software: A Comparison

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Testing HDDs for hardware problems

Hard drives are like the brain of your computer. They store all your data, whether it is a picture, document or spreadsheet. However, just like everything technological, they are prone to breaking and certainly won’t last forever. When you’re storing all your vital information the drive, it’s important to make sure it’s looked after well. Don’t drop your system, expose it to vibrations or let it get overheated. All of this can damage the delicate platters that make up your hard drive and risk corrupting the data within.

Along with corrupted data, a busted hard drive could also cause data access to become very slow, make the operating system unable to boot, or make your computer restart randomly. None of them are what you want, obviously.

As such, you should check your hard drive for problems as soon as you think something might be up. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to just check periodically anyway, even if everything seems fine.

There are a number of programs you can download to test the health of your hard drive. This article will explore some of the options at your disposal. However, remember that it’s no good just to be checking your drive’s health; you need a solid backup plan in place so that you’re ready should disaster strike

Scandisk

This one doesn’t need to be downloaded as it’s a built-in utility that comes with Windows. It can scan a drive for problems and will even attempt to fix system errors and recover bad sectors if needs be.

To use, open Computer, right click the drive you wish to check and then select Properties. Click the Tools tab and then the Check Now button. You can choose to fix the system errors or scan for bad sectors – selecting the latter will increase the scan time.

Once selected, click Start and the program will run. It’s that simple.

TestDisk

This is free and open source software that can do a variety of things like fix partition tables, rebuild boot sectors and undelete files. Of course, TestDisk can also just be run to collected detailed information about the drive to assess how healthy it is. It’s a great tool for novice and advanced users, allowing you to get more out of the program if you desire.

Seagate SeaTools

Despite the name, this actually works on every hard drive, not just those manufactured by Seagate. It can test internal or external drives. In a review, About.com claimed that the program was one of the easiest that they’ve ever worked with and generally performed pretty quickly.

Hitachi Drive Fitness Test

Again, this tool isn’t just limited to Hitachi drives. The utility supports the option to create a bootable CD image, which some users may find useful. The user interface is simple and understandable, meaning any level of user should be able to run it with ease.

These four programs are just some of the tools available on the market. For checking the health of the hard drive, a free utility should be all you need, although there are some paid ones available.

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