In the last few articles of this series, we discussed how hard drive health is important, and what can hurt your hard drive. This is all well and good, but how does someone go about checking if their hard drive is healthy? What tools are available for users to see if their data is at risk?

Today, we’ll be looking at the free software CrystalDiskInfo and what it can offer.

To download the software, point your browser to this website and click on one of the download links in the ‘Standard Edition’ row. Either one is fine, but this guide will be using ‘Portable w/o ads’.

CrystalDiskInfo01

Once downloaded, unzip the file and look inside the newly made folder. Double-click ‘DiskInfoX64.exe’ if you have a 64-bit operating system. If you don’t, or you’re unsure if you do or not, double-click ‘DiskInfo.exe’ instead – it’ll work exactly the same.

This will open the software. You’ll see a screen similar to this one:

CrystalDiskInfo02

There’s a lot of technical jargon within CrystalDiskInfo, but thankfully you don’t need to know what they mean to monitor your hard drive’s health. CrystalDiskInfo will flag problem areas on your hard drive, and notify you via the Health box should your hard drive begin to fail in a specific area.

The Health box will give you a general idea as to how your hard drive is doing. If everything is okay, it’ll read ‘Good’ and show either green or blue, depending on your version. If something is beginning to deteriorate, it’ll come up as ‘Caution’ and show yellow. If your hard drive is in a bad state, it’ll show ‘Bad’ and turn red. Any trouble areas will also be flagged to show you what, exactly, is going wrong with the hard drive. If you see yellow or red, it’s time to take measures to keep your data safe and possibly invest in a new drive.

From here, you can also monitor your hard drive’s temperature. Last time, when we discussed the kinds of factors that lead to hard drive failure, heat was one of the more prevalent ways that data can be lost. You’re looking for a temperature between 30C and 45C to ensure an optimum hard drive lifespan, so take a look at the temperature box and note how hot your hard drive is. It’s worth noting that the hard drive will heat up during intensive reading and writing, so the temperature will fluctuate as you do different activities with your PC. A hard drive that has just come out of loading the operating system will be hotter than one that has been left idle for a few minutes — especially if a Windows power option has been enabled to turn it off after minutes of inactivity.

~ Simon