Hard drive data loss due to presence of bad sectors, file system corruption, or other such inconsistencies of the drive are some of the common issues that are faced by Windows users. However, if you have a tool that monitors its health, then it would be easy for you to prevent data loss. One such tool is SeaTools by Seagate.
Seagate – one of the largest hard drive manufacturers released its hard drive diagnostic tool that determines the condition of your drive, whether it is internal or external, of your desktop or of laptop. However, you should not get confused if it can test the hard disks manufactured by Seagate only, because it can diagnose the impending hard drive manufactured by Maxtor, Western Digital or Hitachi, or any other brand. Moreover, you can test your hard drive irrespective to the fact that whether it is of SATA, SCSI, PATA, or any other type.
The simple steps and easy installation of this software make it an easy and efficient tool. For testing it, you simply need to download and install the utility in your Windows based computer. As soon as you run this tool and select your hard drive to be checked, you will get a menu of all the options available in this tool for diagnosis of your drive. The detailed descriptions of all the diagnostic tests available on SeaTools are:
SMART Check: This is the basic hard drive monitoring test, which is performed by almost all the hard drive diagnostic tools. Through this feature the status of your hard drive is monitored with the help of S.M.A.R.T features. Your system reports a S.M.A.R.T error when the threshold of S.M.A.R.T is met. The threshold values of S.M.A.R.T are met when your hard drive has several bad sectors, has more than high ventilation temperature, and many such. If your hard drive has any such problems, then testing through SeaTools generates an error message. Replacing your drive remains the only resolution to overcome problems occurred due to this reason. However, before replacing your hard drive make a backup of your data.
Short Drive Self Test: Upon running ‘Short Drive Self Test’ almost all the drives will run an intense diagnostic routine, which is built inside the firmware of hard drive. However, this diagnostic test of hard drive is completely data safe, and hence you need not to worry about your data. Generally, it is the most adequate test for most of the cases of hard drive health diagnosis.
Long Drive Self Test: This test of hard drive is extensive than ‘Short Drive Self Test’ because it reads all the sectors of the drive. This is the reason why it takes more time to complete. However, the amount of time taken by the process depends upon the capacity of your hard drive and its speed. Judge it in a way that the highest capacity drives take at least 2 to 4 hours to complete the process. The time taken by this process and lack of activity can give you an impression that your hard drive has stopped responding. However you should not abort this process abruptly until an adequate time has taken to complete the first 10% of the drive.
Short Generic: The test does a quick scanning of hard drive for all possible errors. The process involves three segments, which are: outer scan, inner scan, and random read. Moreover, this test of hard drive can be run on internal as well as external hard drives both.
Long Generic: This test also can run on internal and external hard drive both. Since this test is a comprehensive test and scans entire hard drive, it may take long hours to complete. Moreover, you can abort this test any time in between the process, however it will fail automatically, or abort abruptly, if it find any bad sector on internal hard drive. On the other hand, if you have bad sectors on an external hard drive and you are running this test on it, then the test will give you option to repair the sectors. Therefore, the test does not fail, if it finds bad sectors on an external hard drive instead it gives option to repair it.
With all above mentioned tests, SeaTools has some other advanced tools as well for up-gradation of the hard drive firmware and disk format as well. Apart from these, most of the hard drive status tests do not encounter data loss and can be aborted; therefore, taking care during all the processes is a must.
On completion of any of these processes, its log is saved on the RAM drive. You may find out any of the below mentioned results of these tests:
Most of the times, the results of these tests is positive or show ‘PASS’ status. However, you may find inconsistencies while extracting your data even after successful completion of these tests or getting a passed result. It is when your hard drive you have corrupt data in your hard drive. In such cases using CHKDSK (or checkdisk) can do the needful for you. However, if the checkdisk operation too fails, then reinstallation of data is required.
As we have already discussed; if the test finds bad sectors in your hard drive, it fails and halts. For external drives having bad sectors, you have ‘Long Generic’ test. However, for bad sectors on an internal drive, like PATA, (IDE), or SATA, it is recommended to run this test in bootable version. Moreover, the CHKDSK too has the ability to repair bad sectors, thus you can use that too.
In this way, with the help of these diagnostic tests, you can check the status of your hard drive and prevent it from causing data loss to great extent. Various options of the tests are there to help you to keep your hard drive healthy. Though these tests do not cause data loss, but it is always good practice to maintain backup of your data, so that you can recover hard drive any time when you encounter data loss due to bad sectors or other reasons.
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Last updated: 08/04/2014