It’s not a matter of IF your hard drive will fail, it’s a matter of WHEN it will fail. PCTechBytes.com always preaches this because we’ve seen people lose everything–pictures, movies, tax documents–when their hard drives have failed and they had no reliable backups of their data. Fortunately for us, our hard drives are equipped with technology to give us some warning if it begins to gradually fail. This technology is Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T). It provides a snapshop of your hard drive’s state and can help you determine if your drive is experiencing issues.
There are several ways to get to the S.M.A.R.T information. One way is to use a third-part utility such as CrystalDiskInfo. Download and install the tool from here.
The setup is pretty straightforward. Once you download it, click Next to install.
If you see a screen for a Hotspot Shield, you can select “I do not accept” to skip installation of that without it affecting the hard drive software.
As soon as the utility loads you will see the status of your hard drive. Important things to look at is the overall health, which in the above example is Good, as well as the temperature of the drive. Some of the attributes you want to keep an eye on are the following:
Seek Time Performance: If this number begins to rise, it means there is some type of mechanical problem with the drive and it is becoming harder for it to access data.
Seek Error Rate: If you are experiencing problems with the magnetic head of the drive, this number will rise.
Reallocated Sectors Count: This number shows the amount of bad sectors that have been found and remapped. If this number begins to increase, if could mean impending doom for the drive.
My Hard Drive Is Failing, Now What?
If you see signs that your hard drive is heading toward disaster, your best bet will be to immediately copy your data off to an external hard drive, such as this External USB WD 1TB Hard Drive.
If you want to grab all of the data from multiple users at once do the following:
In Windows XP, open My Computer, open the C drive and then right-click and copy the Documents and Settings folder.
In Windows 7, open Computer, open the C drive and then right-click and copy the Users folder.
Paste this information onto the backup hard drive. If you do not want to grab everything, you can open the Documents and Setting folder in XP (or the Users folder in Windows 7) and select only the folder of the user you want to copy. Inside of each username folder you will find folders like My Documents, Desktop and Favorites–the three most important folders for user data.
My Hard Drive’s Health Is Good!
S.M.A.R.T technology should be used to predict and monitor a hard drive’s health. It does not predict spontaneous mechanical failures that happen all of the time without any warning at all. It’s always prudent to keep a backup of your data so you’re ready for these spontaneous failures. You can use an external hard drive or use cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive and Skydrive to backup your data.
So if you’re having hard drive problems, such as slow load times, crashes, or if you notice that the size of your hard drive has reduced, use a utility like this to check the S.M.A.R.T data for the drive and see if your suspicions of hard drive failure are true.