Best Free Hard Drive Diagnostic Software

In My opinion the best hard drive diagnostic software is the GSmartControl tool.

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Below, you will find a list of parameters and what each parameter means.  Most of the time, it is advised to just use the Reallocation Event Count, Current Pending Sector Count, and the Error Log. If you look at them and there is a large number in the first two, it means there is a defect on the hard drive disk. The Error Log in red means that there is a serious problem that has occurred on the disk surface.

Needs to say, each hard drive has slightly different parameters, but the three main parameters are the Reallocation Event Count, Current Pending Sector Count, and the Error Log which are known as the Raw Read Error Rate. On Seagate hard drives, Raw Read Error Rate can be very high but that is normal. On other hard drives, anything that is not zero in this section can indicate difficulty in reading from the disk.

Throughput Performance. Very rarely do I see a non-zero value here. The program states that if there is not a zero, then something is wrong internally.

Spin Up Time. Spindle spin up time. A high value here would indicate a problem with the spindle motor, or in other words, the motor which spins the disk.

Start/Stop Count. It explains itself.

Reallocated Sector Count. This value tells us how many bad sectors that the hard disk put into the G-List.

Seek Error Rate. This value will be non-zero when the hard drive finds it difficult to position the head on the track.

Power On Time. The number in hours of power on time.

Spin Up Retry Count. How many times the hard drive has tried to spin up the disk.

G-Sense Error Rate. This value increases every time the hard drive is forced to spin down due to falling.

Head Retract Cycle Count. The number of times the heads unloaded from the disk.

Temperature. This value is the temperature stated in Celsius. It shows the max value, which in healthy drives should be less than 50. If this number is more than 50, the spindle motor is overheating or the hard drive is located near a hot component on the motherboard, such as on the South or north Bridge. In a pair of hard drives, there is always the top one which works in extreme heat conditions.

Reallocation Event Count. This is a number of the so-called remapping operation. It is okay when this number is less than 10. The number of bad sectors will not show on the HDTune surface scan. This is simply a value as to how many sectors the hard drive has placed on the G-list.

Current Pending Sector Count. This is an indication of a bad situation with the hard drive. Hard drive manufacturers have a strange algorithm for these bad sectors. I would place all those sectors on the G-List. But at times, the hard drive marks them as pending. If it can read from it, it will mark it as good. Usually, zeroing the disk helps put them on the Bad Sector List (G-List). The sectors will show up as red dots in the HDTune disk surface scan.

Offline Uncorrectable. This is an indication of a faulty hard disk surface.

UDMA CRC Error Count. This is a hard disk cable problem.


Another software that is advised is HDTune. But, it is not as quick a the GSmartControl tool. It is not free when used for external hard drives in order to retrieve S.M.A.R.T. data and temperature.  HDTune has one advantage which is that it visually displays the hard disk surface and where the bad sectors are located.

There is also a tolerance as to how many sectors a hard drive can relocate. This largely depends on the manufacturer, but from my experience, every hard disk drive that has over 5 bad sectors will shortly become a brick.

There is also diagnostic capability built in laptops.

For example, HP has a  hard disk self test feature as shown above. This tool looks good but does not provide all the diagnostic data that the GSmartControl tool does.

For Mac computers, the best hard drive diagnostic tool is the Smart Reporter tool. The non-professional version is free which is enough.

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