If you believe your computer may be experiencing hard drive failure or if you would just like to make sure the hard drive you use to store all of your data currently is in good shape, you should test your hard drive for errors! There are many free utilities out there that perform some basic tests or read the S.M.A.R.T. data, but it’s hard to beat a utility made by one of the largest hard drive manufacturers, Seagate (I mean, c’mon, who knows hard drives better than those that create them).
SeaTools is a free utility provided by Seagate and can be downloaded from the Seagate Website.
Generic HDD Tests
After loading the Seagate SeaTools software, you will see a list of hard drives that your computer has detected. These can be (P)ATA, SATA, SCSI, or USB drives. If you check the box all the way to the left of the drive you want to run a scan on, additional options such as the “generic” scans will appear in the drop down menus.
The “Long Generic” and “Short Generic” scans can be performed on any hard drive, regardless of manufacturer, and are extremely powerful in finding hardware issues with your drives. Typically, I will run a short scan before attempting hard drive recovery and a long scan after an initial recovery sweep. Some malfunctioning drives will pass the “short generic” scan but will fail the “long generic” scan depending on where the faults lie and if the malfunctions present themselves spontaneously or if they’re a constant problem.
This is a great tool for IT consultants as well, it gives a simple and concise Pass/Fail for hard drives that can be shown to customers if they have concerns.
If you are testing a Seagate hard drive, you will have additional options available in the SeaTools menus. One very important one to consider is the ability to attempt fixes on drives found to be failing. When running certain scans, a dialog box will appear asking if you would like to perform block-level repairs on your Seagate drives.