Checking your hard drive’s health routinely helps prevent data loss due to physical, mechanical, or logical failures.
Hard drives do not live forever, and even if you invest in regular maintenance, your system will eventually fail. Fortunately, hard drives use Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T) to measure their performance and determine their functionality. If S.M.A.R.T reports a failure, you can address the issue before it gets worse and leads to data recovery issues.
Keep reading to discover the simplest ways to check your hard drive’s health and ensure your data is safe.
Check Your Hard Drive’s Health with S.M.A.R.T
As an early warning system, S.M.A.R.T provides computer users time to back up any essential business files, documents, corporate presentations, family photos, or videos before a hard drive breakdown. Even if the system detects potential issues, it will not fail immediately. You will have time to investigate the best way to back up your computer and make sure your data is safe.
It is highly recommended to use S.M.A.R.T tools regularly, check the performance periodically and ensure your system runs without any failures.
Unfortunately, most operating systems do not have built-in tools that check your hard disk’s health and show your S.M.A.R.T data. Although you can check the basic status from the Command Prompt (for Windows) and Disk Utility (for Mac), to see more detailed information, you will have to use a third-party tool.
For Windows-based devices, the easiest way to check your hard drive’s health is by using WMIC, or Windows Management Instrumentation Command-line in Command Prompt. It is a command-line that simplifies the use of WMI and systems controlled through it.
Here is how to run your scan:
- Open Command Prompt in Windows (if you cannot locate, type “prompt” in Search).
- In the window, enter the code “WMIC Diskdrive Get Status” and then Enter.
- If the hard drive is fine, the system will report an “OK” status.
- If something is wrong, and the system says “Bad,” “Caution,” or “Unknown.” When this happens, you probably have issues with your hard drive or some errors retrieving information regarding the status.
For Mac-based devices, you have an easier way to check the S.M.A.R.T status of your device.
- Go to Application > Utilities > Disk Utility
- Click on the drive and look for S.M.A.R.T status (it is located in the bottom left).
- If everything is okay with your hard drive, the system will report “Verified.” If there is a problem, the system will show a warning sign that says “Failing.”
The basic S.M.A.R.T information your system shows may be misleading. It usually shows warnings when your drive is near collapse, but you may start to experience some issues even if the status still reads okay.
For a detailed look, it is highly recommended to use third-party tools. CrystalDiskInfo for Windows-based devices and DriveDx for Mac-based devices are both tools that offer a more detailed S.M.A.R.T analysis than your computer provides.
Instead of reporting “OK” or “Verified,” these tools will provide more comprehensive information such as “Warning” and “Caution.” Based on the reporting status, you will know exactly what steps to take to prevent further issues.
Other Ways to Check Your Hard Drive’s Health
Using S.M.A.R.T information is one way to check your device and prepare for data recovery. If you do not want to look for third-party tools or purchase additional apps, you can also use these other methods to inspect your drive’s performance.
Check the Hard Disk Speed
If the speed is slower than usual or lower than the minimum capability of your hard drive, consider optimising your drive to keep it working properly. A lower speed indicates drive issues you must solve immediately.
Physically check the disk
If data corruption is happening on your internal or external drive frequently, there might be a mechanical problem with your drive. To ensure your files are safe, you can inspect the external or internal drive physically by listening for any whirring or grinding sounds.
Also, check to see if the drive stops rotating from time to time. If you notice anything unusual, you will want to start the data backup process and buy a new drive.
Run CHKDSK Status
CHKDSK is a common utility that inspects your hard drive’s health. You can use a code to check for bad sectors and hopefully repair drive errors on time.
To run the scan, open Command Prompt on your Windows and type “chkdsk /r/f/x” and press Enter. You will get an accurate scan of your hard drive and a list of possible issues.
Update the Firmware
Firmware is the backbone of your hard disk, responsible for many software-related operations. If your computer is running on an outdated firmware version, it may cause unwanted problems. When updating, the system will automatically do a hard drive check and let you know of any possible issues.
Follow these steps to update the disk’s firmware on Windows:
- Go to Control Panel > System & Security > System.
- Launch Device Manager.
- Expand the Disk Drive option and select your hard drive.
- Right-click to open Properties > Tools > Hardware ID.
- Go to the official hard drive manufacturer’s website to enter the ID and update the firmware.
What to do when nothing seems to work
If you’ve tried every option and still can’t recover your data, a professional data recovery service could help. Companies like Recovered, a Sydney based data recovery service, provide the highest success rates when it comes to recovering lost data from failed hard drives. Whether you lost data due to device failure, a natural disaster, or normal wear and tear, a professional hard drive repair service like this could help you to recover your valuable information when DIY methods don’t work.