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Hard drive diagnostic tools - winxp/2000

Posted on 2006-11-02
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Last Modified: 2010-04-26
Hello -

I have been using Ultimate Boot Disk recently and want to find a hard drive diagnostic tool that I can use without having to use a boot disk.  Deal mostly with SEAGATE hard drives.  Need it to run in windows, not be a self booting type of program.  

Also - any similiar windows running diagnostic programs similiar to whats on Ultimate Boot Disk but runnable from within windows??

Thanks,

-Tomeb
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Question by:tomeb1
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by:Callandor
ID: 17859997
SpinRite from Gibson Research is a good tool: http://www.grc.com/intro.htm
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 17860012
I've heard a lot of good things about spinrite - though I've never used it.  One tool you might find useful that's free is HD Tune.  It will display the status of SMART information and do a performance test.

http://www.hdtune.com/
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by:Alan Henderson
ID: 17860120
The full (Windows) version of Seagate's Disk wizard should do the job.
http://www.seagate.com/support/disc/drivers/discwiz.html
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by:Mnf
ID: 17860173
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by:garycase
ID: 17860422
Spinrite is indeed excellent (I've been using it for over 15 years) ... but it also very clearly violates the requirement in the question for "... a diagnostic tool that I can use without having to use a boot disk."

HDTune is not really a diagnostic program, but it does (as leew noted) display the S.M.A.R.T. info from the drive (so at least you know what the built-in diagnostics are reporting) and will run a drive performance test ... which is a pretty good indication about whether the drive's working well or not.

Seagate's Disc Wizard will run the new drive setup features from within Windows;  but when I last looked at it (a few months ago), the diagnostic portion was simply a feature that allowed you to create a boot disk for the Ontrack-based SeaTools Disc Drive Diagnostic.  (which violates your "... without having to use a boot disk" requirement).

... Update:  I just looked on Seagate's site; and the current "SeaTools Desktop" has this to say about its diagnostic capabilities:  "Download this file to your hard drive then execute to create a bootable diskette or ISO CD-ROM image."   So it appears it's still the same.

Bottom Line:   Your requirement to not use a boot disk eliminates the better, more detailed diagnostic programs; but it's still possible to do a pretty thorough test by simply using (a) HDTune to do a performance test and look at the S.M.A.R.T. data; and (b) running a thorough surface scan with Windows built-in disk test (but note that it will require a reboot to do this on the system partition).
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by:rop12770
ID: 17861668
Hi

A very good software - Ontrack Easy Recovery.

I use it and I love it.

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by:garycase
ID: 17861873
Agree that Ontrack's Easy Recovery is an excellent RECOVERY tool ... but it's NOT a disk diagnostic utility.
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by:willcomp
ID: 17862361
The bottom line is that disk diagnostic software can't perform needed operations with an OS like Windows loaded.  Windows itself can't even run defrag without constant restarts unless it's run in safe mode.
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by:garycase
ID: 17862462
I certainly agree with willcomp ... as I noted earlier, your requirement to "... not use a boot disk ..." is very restrictive.  You should definitely reconsider that.
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by:Alan Henderson
ID: 17863157
My apologies!
Seagate have changed the rules of the game.
I have a copy of Diskwizard 2003 which runs from within Windows.
They've obviously scrapped that tool.
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by:rop12770
ID: 17865027
Excuse me GaryCase , but I work with Ontrack Easy Recover Profesisonal and it does disk diagnostics. I'm sure of that.

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garycase earned 500 total points
ID: 17867224
Easy Recovery does a few basic tests ... but it is NOT a high quality disk diagnostic utility.   It will report the S.M.A.R.T. data;  initiate the drive's built-in S.M.A.R.T. testing; and do do the simple equivalent of a ChkDsk surface scan (Easy Recovery calls this a "Full Diagnostic Test" ... but it's nothing more than a quick read of every sector).  

It does have an option to create a bootable "DataAdvisor" disk (but of course, this is outside of Windows), but IIRC this only does the same set of tests I just outlined (I haven't used that disk in a while).

There is also a "Partition Test" feature to test the file system structure => this is not testing the disk; but the structure of the data on the disk (basically it's like ChkDsk).

I supposed I shouldn't have said it was "... NOT a disk diagnostic utility .." ==> a more accurate statement would be that it is "... not a good disk diagnostic utility, since the tests it performs are basically the same as ChkDsk."

In any event, as both willcomp and I have noted, the best disk utilities require complete control of the disk(s) being tested ... so cannot be run from Windows.   My recommendation for testing within Windows is to use a combination of HDTune and ChkDsk.   For more thorough testing, use Spinrite.

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by:willcomp
ID: 17867450
I have a Dell PC in shop now that has a bad WD400BB HDD.  Realized that disk was probably bad when it wasn't recognized as a boot disk.  WD diagnostics pass the drive as error free.  Spinrite reports bad tracks and spent 2 days trying to revover it until I pulled the plug.  Disk is definitely bad, but you wouldn't know if relying on WD diagnostics.

Gary and I don't always agree (more times than not though), but this is one that we always agree on --> Spinrite is the Best HDD diagnostic tool either of us has seen.
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