How to test and diagnose hard drive problems

There are several signs that the disk is having problems, the most common symptom of failure with the hard disk is the presence of noises (similar to a grinding or clicking sound) when turning on the computer or processing information, the noise usually indicates failures mechanical, however it is important to carry out a diagnosis of the unit before determining its status.

Hard drive check program

One of the easiest methods to test if a hard drive is having problems is to use a hard drive testing program. These programs are designed to check every part of the drive and report any problems it finds. There are many hard disk checking programs on the market, among which are:

  1. Scandisk – Microsoft Windows built-in error checking.
  2. SeaTools – free application from Seagate that allows you to check the health of your hard drive.
  3. HDDScan – This program checks the status of the hard drive, regardless of the manufacturer.
  4. DiskCheckup – Free software to work with most hard drives.
  5. GSmartControl – Allows you to perform a general health assessment of the unit.
  6. WinDFT – Free diagnostic software for use on most drives available today.
  7. Samsung HUTIL – Used to check Samsung hard drives
  8. Western Digital Data Lifeguard Diagnostic (DLGDIAG) – Checks the status of Western Digital hard drives.
  9. Fujitsu Diagnostic Tool – Designed to check Fujitsu hard drives.
  10. HD Tune – It is a Windows based internal or external hard drive tester.

Physical inspection of equipment

Before diagnosing failures with the hard drive, you should perform an inspection of the equipment to see if everything is correct. Here is a basic checklist:

  • Verify that the drive’s power cable is properly connected to the drive.
  • Check that the data cable is properly connected to the drive. If it is an IDE drive, make sure the cable is aligned correctly, the red edge of the cable should be aligned with pin 1 on the drive connector. Pin 1 is the one closest to the power pin.
  • Check the disk jumper, in the case of internal disks this must be adjusted depending on the function, either master/main or slave/secondary.
  • Check that the power source (outlet) is actually sending electricity, and that there are no electrical faults.

Once the physical connections have been verified, it is good to check if the drive is recognized by the computer. You can enter the computer’s BIOS, it should auto-detect the drive. If the BIOS detects the disk, then there are no connection problems.

Software verification

  • If you receive error messages when you start up your computer or run an application indicating that certain important files have been lost, you know that it is an error in the operating system or in the software that displays the message.
  • Run an external antivirus program and scan the drive. The drive, including the boot partition, will be scanned for viruses or any other malicious programs.
  • Use a hard drive management program like FDISK to view the partitions on the drive. If no active partitions are found, then there is an error in the disk partitions.

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