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  • Tools for monitoring drive health

    Posted on Tracey Capen Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody blog Tools for monitoring drive health

    This topic contains 16 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Paul T 2 weeks, 6 days ago.

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    • #2124997 Reply

      Tracey Capen
      AskWoody MVP

      TROUBLESHOOTING By Lance Whitney Today’s PC storage media — traditional disk-based drives and newer solid-state models — are remarkably reliable. And
      [See the full post at: Tools for monitoring drive health]

      5 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2125027 Reply

      AJNorth
      AskWoody Plus

      HWiNFO (x32 and x64) also report Drive Remaining Life (as a percentage) for SSDs, as well as drive Read & Write Activity and Read & Write Rates in realtime (along with some other parameters), and a plethora of other hardware information; portable versions are available.  It is also highly configurable: https://www.hwinfo.com/ .

       

      5 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2125095 Reply

        woody
        Da Boss

        I use HWiNFO all the time. Excellent little utility.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2125150 Reply

      bbearren
      AskWoody MVP

      I don’t pay much attention to drive health monitoring. I use Intel Rapid Storage Technology for an over-all look at all the drives in the box, and Samsung Magician for a closer look at the Samsung SSD’s. On page 10 of a report published by Google in February, 2007 on their extensive study of drive failures, in section 3.5.6, “Out of all failed drives, over 56% of them have no count in any of the four strong SMART signals, namely scan errors, reallocation count, offline reallocation, and probational count. In other words, models based only on those signals can never predict more than half of the failed drives. Figure 14 shows that even when we add all remaining SMART parameters (except temperature) we still find that over 36% of all failed drives had zero counts on all variables.”

      Perhaps SMART has improved significantly since that time, but in my view, drive failure is never a matter of “if”, but always a matter of “when” if one keeps a PC long enough. With that in mind, I long ago decided it best to maintain a regimen of creating an image of each complete drive with all the partition/logical drive mapping and such drive metadata.

      It has proven invaluable those times I have had to replace a failing/failed drive. I have a 3TB HDD that lives in storage, but is occasionally brought out and plugged into the dock on my NAS, and I update my complete drive image set using TeraByte’s Image for Windows. Once they’re up to date, the 3TB HDD goes back into storage, ready for the next drive failure.

      You don’t need a NAS, external drive docks are relatively inexpensive, and will perform equally well. It’s another layer of protection for your system. If a drive fails, replace it and restore the image of that particular drive. Then use the drive images of individual partitions/logical drives (if you’re not making those, my advice is to start) to bring the new replacement drive completely up to date.

      It takes more time for the mechanical work (physically replacing the failed drive) than for the restoration of its contents from drive images, and your PC is once again made whole.  I understand the utility of monitoring one’s drive health, but if you’re not prepared for the inevitable drive failure, all that monitoring has not done a whole lot.

      I have two laptops.  I’ve replaced the drives in both due to failure.  I’ve replaced more than a half dozen HDD’s in my PC’s over the years due to failure.  Being prepared made it nothing more than a couple hours getting back on board.  I didn’t move to SSD’s until the prices got reasonable, and I haven’t had an SSD failure yet, but I’m ready for it when it does happen.

      Create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates, in case you need to start over!
      "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns
      "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware

      • #2135013 Reply

        Tom-R
        AskWoody Plus

        @bbearren: You mentioned that you’re using TeraByte’s Image for Windows ($38.94) to make your drive images.  Is there any advantage to using TeraByte’s paid product for doing that, as opposed to just using Macrium Reflect 7 Free Edition?   It’s not a lot of money we’re talking about; but I was wondering if TeraByte’s product had some added features to justify the extra cost.

        • #2135020 Reply

          Paul T
          AskWoody MVP

          Paying for a backup product is a personal choice, like paying for AV. Some like the extra features you get.

          My data is much more valuable than my computer, or a bunch of other things I own. Paying for backup software that does exactly what you want makes sense.

          cheers, Paul

          cheers, Paul

          • #2135035 Reply

            Tom-R
            AskWoody Plus

            Paying for a backup product is a personal choice, like paying for AV. Some like the extra features you get.

            Sure.  That’s understandable.  My question (and I’m actually interested to know) is: What extra features do you get with TeraByte’s Image for Windows that you don’t have with Macrium Reflect 7 Free Edition?

            If there’s enough added value in the TeraByte product, maybe it’s worth the added cost.  I figured it was worth asking an actual user who apparently has years of experience with it.

    • #2125157 Reply

      Tem
      AskWoody Plus

      Speccy, a system information tool, also provides a basic readout of S.M.A.R.T. data.
      http://www.ccleaner.com/speccy

      A list of S.M.A.R.T. attributes, their descriptions, and desired values can be found at:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.M.A.R.T.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2125182 Reply

      Cybertooth
      AskWoody Plus

      SMART attributes are well-nigh meaningless to me–despite reading up on them time and time again, I’ve never quite come to understand how the data is supposed to be interpreted. And it doesn’t inspire confidence to learn, as Lance Whitney wrote, that

      Drive-health apps will report the same SMART stats, but they’ll differ in how they interpret that information. So while some might report that certain SMART numbers represent a serious issue, others might not. They may also provide different predictions of overall drive health.

      You’d think it’s all cut-and-dried, just the facts ma’am. For all the charts and figures that SMART outputs, to me this comes off more as smoke-and-mirrors than as science.

      Instead, I use HD Tune to check on the health of my drives. You can run a baseline scan when you first install the drive and then run a comparison scan either on a schedule or when you suspect the drive may be developing a problem. Yes, HD Tune will report SMART data but I do little more than glance at it.

       

      • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 2 days ago by  Cybertooth.
    • #2125279 Reply

      WSjahntee
      AskWoody Plus

      FWIW, it seems SMART info cannot be reported on USB-attached drives.

      Will any of the other tools mentioned do their thing with external drives?

      On Linux?

      Thanks!

      (I’m asking b/c I am using a Raspberry Pi NAS setup with USB drives.)

      • #2125869 Reply

        satrow
        AskWoody MVP

        FWIW, it seems SMART info cannot be reported on USB-attached drives.

        Will any of the other tools mentioned do their thing with external drives?

        On Linux?

        An explanation of USB-attached drives in enclosures. USB thumb/flash drives would be more problematic.

        Works fine with my Transcend/WDC ext. spinner but not the Toshiba flash:
        HDS_USB_thumb

        HDS does have a Linux console version (free).

        HDS (Windows versions) isn’t free, though there are Trial versions. The developer is very responsive to queries and always welcomes good data to work with for new features and drive types, etc.

        It also supports many NVME/SAS/SCSI/RAID drives.

        Attachments:
        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2125301 Reply

      Steve S.
      AskWoody Plus

      I just tried the HDDScan utility and while it does have deep testing for spinning HDs, it doesn’t provide any monitoring or testing of NMVe M.2 SSDs. The website indicates the utility only supports SATA/ATA SSDs. My desktop box has one Intel and three Samsung M.2 drives. For these, all the tools icons are grayed out. No temperature or health monitoring, no testing…

      For my case, CrystalDiskInfo,  HWiNFO, Samsung Magician and Intel SSD Toolbox are my choices for monitoring/testing these SSD drives.

      HDDScan will, however, be useful as a tool for the USB “spinners” I use for backups and other redundant storage.  Can you say ‘backups of backups’?  😉

      Win7 Pro x64(Group B), Win10 Pro x64 1903, Win10 Home 1903, Linux Mint + a cat with 'tortitude'.

    • #2135019 Reply

      Tom-R
      AskWoody Plus

      The article mentions HDD Health as one of the drive utilities:

      PANTERASoft’s drive-monitoring tool HDD Health is designed to continually audit drives and alert you of possible problems. Once the app is installed, it lives in the Windows notification area. You can get a quick report on drive health and temperature by simply hovering over its icon.

      What’s especially interesting to me is that it gets installed and continually monitors the drives.   But in looking at the PANTERASoft Download page, it looks like the software hasn’t been updated since 2014.  And although they say it’s for use with Windows 7 (and Win 8 on a different page), there’s no mention at all of Windows 10 anywhere.

      Does anyone have any experience (good or bad) with installing and running HDD Health on a relatively current Win 10 system?

      • #2135486 Reply

        Steve S.
        AskWoody Plus

        I just installed it on Win 10 1903 it out of curiosity (after a thorough malware scan, of course). It only monitored the temperature and health of my two internal HDDs. None of my M.2 SSDs nor any of the four attached USB ‘enclosure’ HDDs were able to be monitored, though they did show up in the “partitions” tab of the software. IMHO it isn’t very useful.

        Win7 Pro x64(Group B), Win10 Pro x64 1903, Win10 Home 1903, Linux Mint + a cat with 'tortitude'.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2135625 Reply

      Paul T
      AskWoody MVP

      CrystalDiskInfo happily reports my external SSD, but I have to rescan (F6).

      cheers, Paul

    • #2135733 Reply

      BWB8771
      AskWoody Plus

      +1 for Hard Drive Sentinel

      I try not to support too many friends-and-family, but with the few that I do, I have them pay for the HDS license as it will email me when they have drive problems. We all have those friends who try to get 10 years out of a computer, heh.  I got an email last year on a friend’s +6 yr old all-in-one office PC hard drive and was able to use Macrium Reflect Free to image the drive in the nick of time.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2135841 Reply

      Paul T
      AskWoody MVP

      CDI does email too, but I don’t know if the tests are the same as HDS.
      What did/does HDS report?
      How is the email set up? CDI uses your local mail.

      cheers, Paul

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