Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Last Part! - Hard Drives: How to certify a drive for good measure!

Even if you plow your hard drive trough all of these programs and get the green light on it, there is no stopping fate from making your drive die the next day, so back up often!
( 9000+ Visitors :D! ty)

Welcome back to this humble guide I hope you have enjoyed the insight on the programs that i use to test and certify  hard drives, this time we finally take a look at how to make sure a drive will perform reliably both in data preservation and  performance within windows!

HD TUNE  - Transfer rate measurement  / surface scan

A great program created to check the performance of both your data integrity and data transfers, you might be able to resurface a drive, but it will do no good, if the drive performs slow!, with an industry  used benchmark and and a real world surface scan per sector, you can certify for once and for all if your drive is a candidate for daily use.. or just for backups as we will look in the next paragraphs. All this done within windows,  it also includes a  s.m.a.r.t. check up tool!

The built in benchmark tool generates a  Data transfer rate graph to see  how fast the drive performs at any given point of its structure, from the outer tracks of the drive (longer tracks) to the  inner ones (shorter tracks), you can test and see just how good your drive is  at transferring information, and compare drives across the board, old  drives measure up around 60MB/s while fster speedier drives can rise up to 120MB/s, and New Solid State Memory ones, can dominate the benchmarks at around 220MB/s or more!

example of a healthy fast benchmark!

Resurfacing a Drive back to life
This is the example of a drive that gave me hell, SpinRite was taking hours to proccess, Victoria had a hard time with it, and you can see Hdtune has trouble reading it as well, and the surface scan (fast in this case) shows many bad sectors
slowness and errors everywhere

many bad sectors present

After Resurfacing the drive with HDD low level format tool, the drive was brought back in shape, showing a nice downward curve as expected, and the surface scan showed no errors:

it works now!
a slow scan will take longer but will give you the definitive ok on the drive!

The Hard Drive that refused to live
This is the example of a bad drive that will never come back to full life, here  we got a Faulty drive which cannot be fixed even if we try all under the sun, after many passes of HDAT per block verify , and LOW LEVEL FORMATS, i cannot get rid of the wonky behavior, if you notice, the performance graph falls down every few % in a pattern indicating failure to access one of the hard drives platters side(data is evenly distributed on both sides of the platter), be it a problem with one of the heads , head arm or platter side itself.

before resurfacing: slow and with many bad sectors

After a low level format all bad sectors are gone, but the drive still
fails to read with speed this drive is only good for a second backup
of  your original backup,  otherwise it is trash!

These are the programs i have come to use and love the most, depending on the situation at hand, i usually clone a drive to another and then perform a low level format and or Hdat's blockVerifyWrite to rid of all errors, clone the information back.and give it a final inspection with HD TUNE, i also run my system trough SPINRITE, once every few months, and everything has been nice and speedy, my drives show no sign of failure... for now D:

It must be noted these programs work on SINGLE drives and they will not work on RAID drives as they are often handled by the software/hardware for bad and slow sectors.

As Always support and buy the software you use, these are great tools!

Thank you and see you next week :D


  1. Congratulations on 9000 visitors, good luck on 10,000 =3

    Interesting article, lots of useful hard drive information including a lot I wasn't aware of, thanks!

  2. Haha, kinda chuckled at 'resurfacing a drive back to life.'

  3. Omg, you're saving me so much money since I don't have to hire Geeksquad anymore! :D Thanks Oscar!

  4. Thanks so much for this! After my hard drive decided to stab itself and corrupt system 32 i considered buying a new one, but perhaps I won't have to :D

  5. Nice post. Even I that don't understand that much of computers think it's very useful.

  6. I do have some hard drives with bad sectors; I would like to recover as much data as possible from them. Do you recommend Spinrite for those?

  7. Great post this will come in handy!

  8. That's what I always say, support the developers/artists/whatever.
    Also, really great and detailed post, you clearly know what you're talking about

  9. I would have never have found such programs! Thanks a lot!

  10. Thanks for your usful guide. Hope it will help my harddrive. Keep posting!

  11. Already had 2 HDDs burned down on me. Had no backups so i keep them to recover data somehow.

  12. Thanks for the advice. I guess I'll use some of this software to benchmark my drives, especially on my laptop. I guess I may call myself lucky, as I still have a 6.5 GB 12 year old HDD still up and running at home (knock, knock).

  13. That's about it too. Nice blog on the hd. I can't tell you how many people think their hard drive is good just because they defrag and keep it very cool, when in the end, it's minutes from going kaput. Well done!

  14. cool! thanks for concluding the hard drive tips. were very useful!

  15. Spiffy and interesting. My HD horror story happened not too long ago. Let me tell you, avoid RAID at all costs, especially the two HDs acting a single one mode. If one dies, info on both is gone and is unrecoverable, meaning your chances of HD failure double.

  16. Cool information!
    Keep up the good work!

  17. That's some very interesting knowledge... This might be handy in the future, thanks!