These days we all have gigabytes and some even terabytes of data. And we all trust these massive numbers of data to mechanical spinning plates and heads that read and write from/to them. And in general this works well. Sometimes for years without any problems. But sometimes things go bad as well. The drive fails and we can lose years of memories in form of photos and videos, lots of work we’ve done through all these years or just the stuff we collected through out the time.
Data backup is probably the most reliable method, but we all know this requires extra space and time to do it. At least I’m too lazy to do it. Instead, I prefer to rely on S.M.A.R.T. monitoring. It’s a very cheap method that simply works in pretty much all cases. SMART system is monitoring vital signs of hard drives and report them back to the user. It’s a raw data, but some programs can translate that into useful, graphically represented data. When such program warns you about potential disk failure, it’s a good time to transfer all the data to some other medium, be it DVD’s or external hard drive. Or just install new internal drive and copy everything down. Remember, copy, not move. Because if anything goes wrong during the process, you still have the original data you can work with. Even if only partially working.
Now I’ll list some programs that I prefer and recommend for the given task…
Acronis – Acronis Drive Monitor
Very good interface, easy to use, and has additional features like Event Viewer log monitoring for possible disk errors and other critical events related to disk. Highly recommended.
BinarySense – HDDlife Pro
15 days trial, works as freeware after expiration.
Nicely designed and pretty accurate program. Easy to use and easy to read reported status.
Highly recommended, but with certain limitations.
LSoft Technologies – Active@ Hard Disk Monitor
Freeware with limitations.
Also very good program that is easy to use and read. Interface is not as nice as HDDlife’s , but it offers more detailed info by default and offers slightly more non limited tweaks.
Similar to Active@ Hard Disk monitor with slightly different layout and additional features. Easy to use in general and offers few additional features like AAM control.
PassMark – DiskCheckup
Not as nice to look at and it’s info is harder to interpret, but it works and still offers fairly good SMART reading.
Install one of these programs and keep them running next to the clock. They will periodically check SMART status and report if anything goes bad. If they ever do, take every warning seriously.
It’s better to be safe than sorry. Besides, I don’t ever remember any such program to report false problems.