Every hard drive will fail eventually, some before warranty runs out, others run for a decade without any sign of slowing down any time soon. Modern hard drives however support SMART, which offer information about a hard drive’s health. With the right program, you can check a drive’s values regularly to make sure that the chance of it failing anytime soon is slim.
And if you find out that a hard drive’s health is going down, or reported as bad, you may still have enough time to find a replacement, move all the data off of the drive on the new drive, without the chance of losing data due to a hard drive crash.
One of the programs that you can use for the job is CrystalDiskInfo, a free software for Windows that comes as a portable version and a version that you can install on your system. The Open Source program displays the health status of every connected drive in its interface, lists the temperature for drives that generate heat, all Smart values, and general information about the drive’s firmware, supported features, transfer mode or interface.
You can click through the list of drives in the tabbed interface at the top. First thing that you may want to do is check the health status for each drive to make sure that none of the drive’s is already reporting a worse than good health. Once you have looked at the overall health score, you may want to check the Smart attributes to see if some values are sticking out.
If you keep running the program in the background, you get alarms if things get critical, at which point you could simply shutdown the PC and replace the hard drive to avoid a full data loss on the drive.
You can download CrystalDiskInfo from the developer’s website.
An easy to use program that will tell you right away if you need to be concerned about the health of a connected hard drive. Once you get used to it, you can start exploring some of the program’s advanced features, like Automatic Acoustic Management or Advanced Power Management features.