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How To Check Old Hard Drives For Errors

Friday, April 12th, 2013 by | Filed Under: File & Disk Management

Bonnie from Arkansas writes:

I have two internal hard drives I would like to use for storage, but I’m not sure I should take the chance. My Vista had a corrupt hard drive put in it. My Win 7 was knocked out by lightning. Should I just chunk them?


An old hard drive can make a good backup device, but you’re right to be concerned about the reliability of the drive. The best thing you can do to test them is to perform a detailed scan to verify the disk is operating correctly. The first step is to connect the hard drive to an external docking station or open your computer and connect it to one of the internal ports.

Once your hard drive is connected, download PassMark’s DiskCheckup utility by clicking here. This utility will allow you to see the Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T. for short) information and perform a drive test. Once installed, open DiskCheckup, click on your secondary hard drive and click the SMART Info tab.

The SMART information is shown for the drive and while it looks complicated, it’s actually very easy to understand. Only a few columns are needed to diagnose drive health. In general, the higher the numbers, the better; with the exception of temperature (ideally you want from 30c to 50c) and power on time (lower is better).

  • Description: This column describes what data is being displayed.
  • Value: The current measurement from the drive
  • Worst: The lowest the measurement has been.
  • Threshold: The point at which the drive is predicted to fail due to that variable.

 Once you’ve looked at the S.M.A.R.T. information, click on the Disk Self Test tab and run a short and an extended test. This will use the drives internal testing system to determine if the drive may contain errors.

If everything looks good, I’d use them.  Remember that hard drive failure can’t always be predicted. If the drive has suffered damage from electrical surges, it may perform erratically or randomly die without warning.


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