Hard drives are basically magnetic storage media hardware, and like any other piece of hardware they could fail, miserably. According to some very dependable statistics, it has occurred that almost 22% of the total hard drive population fail in their first year of usage which is pretty alarming. Checking the hard drive health time to time could be an option; at least the user will get to know whether the hard drive’s health is deteriorating and require immediate attention. In general cases hard drives are the most reliable storage media available, but don’t just go rely on one. Keep backups instead, and you could also use the tools we suggest to keep up to date with your hard drive health.
Segate has made a hard drive health monitoring tools for their hard drives, however it’s not proprietary and works with hard drives from any other brand as well. SeaTools is based on DOS and usually runs at startup via an external bootable drive. CD or DVD drive is preferable but with proper settings, even a USB drive could be turned into bootable SeaTools disk for HDD health checking. On some platforms the DOS tool might not work, and users need to find out some workaround to make it work on all computers. That being said, SeaTools isn’t really amateur friendly but it does work well.
Instead of doing the whole job by itself, PassMark DiskCheckup tool relies a lot on the hard drive Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART) which is built into almost every hard drive of today. It’s a native tracking feature which updates the hard drive health stats to the system and if anything goes wrong, user will have an alert. Modern hard drives use SATA interface thus the compatibility wouldn’t be an issue, however on backdated hard drives with RAID or SCSI interface might face trouble as SMART wasn’t a common tech back then.
Chkdsk is a built in feature by Microsoft and it’s offered with all existing Windows version thus there’s no additional purchase required. The tool could be executed using the command prompt and even though no visual interface is available, yet the operation is very easy. Before launching command prompt make sure administrator privilege has been given to the OS, and then type in chkdsk /H. Here ‘H’ is considered a drive letter which could be anything from A to Z, depending on what drive you want to scan and that drive’s drive letter. To launch command prompt, open run by holding Win+R keys together and write cmd.
This method isn’t really an alternate to preventing hard drive crash, but adopting this method would save your precious data from being wiped off for good. There are certain services that offer off-site backup plans for your data and no matter what happens to your hard drive or your computer system, you could always restore the data from these service’s servers. It’s more like a cloud storage, but doesn’t work the same way. Few options are CrashPlan, Backblaze etc.
Apparently, hard drive protection isn’t that hard. The alternate option would require few bucks e.g. $5/month; but the previous options are mostly free.