How to Check Your Hard Drive Health and Avoid Failure

We often store a large number of files on our hard drives. And although we always insist on the importance of backups, in reality many times we don't usually do them. Hard drives (even SSD models) are one of the most likely computer components to fail. And the higher their capacity, the more likely they are to fail. Therefore, if we want to avoid surprises, what better way to control the health status of our hard drives with software such as Hard Disk Validator.

When any data is written to a sector (block) of a hard disk, a verification sum is also created that allows verifying that the data has been saved correctly. A sector with errors (bad sector) is a block of the hard disk whose checksum does not match what it should have. This is one of the most frequent indications that a hard disk is about to fail.

Game Disk Use
Game Disk Use

Hard Disk Validator is a simple totally free program whose main purpose is to analyze the surface of our hard drives to show us if it is working correctly or if some of its sectors are starting to fail, which in the short term could cause the loss of our data.

How to check our hard drives with Hard Disk Validator

This program is open source and totally free for all users. In order to use it, all we have to do is download it from the following link . The program is portable, so we don't have to install anything on our PC to use it.

Once downloaded, we simply unzip it in the folder we want and execute it. The first thing we will see will be a window like the following.

This program offers 4 different types of tests:

  • Read: Analyze the entire surface of the hard drive to find bad sectors, nothing more.
  • Read + Wipe Damaged + Read: Analyzes the surface of the disk for bad sectors. If found, it overwrites them and rechecks the surface to see if they have been corrected.
  • Read + Write + Verify + Restore: The program writes a pattern to the hard disk to check if it is generating the checksums correctly. When finished, restore the original data.
  • Write + Verify: The program writes a data pattern to check if they are being saved correctly. This process deletes all data from the unit.

We recommend using the first test, Read. In addition, it is the only one we can do with Windows loaded if we only have a hard disk connected to the PC or if we are going to analyze the operating system disk.

The program will automatically analyze our entire hard drive and show us a series of boxes that will indicate the status of each sector. The green boxes indicate that the sector is correct. Whites that your information has been overwritten. The red ones that the sector is damaged and the brown ones that there is a serious problem of communication.

The hard disk surface analysis can take up to several hours. It depends on the size of the hard disk and the speed and state of it.

When finished, we can know what is the state of our hard drive, if it works well or is about to fail.

What to do if our hard drive starts to fail

If after executing Hard Disk Validator we realize that we have several bad sectors, the first and most important thing is to make a backup of the most important data. This way we will prevent the failure from causing us to lose valuable information that we have stored on this hard drive.

After making the backup we can choose two options. The first, and most recommended, buy a new hard drive. We can take advantage of this to be the same, or higher, capacity of the current and we will ensure that everything works again normally.

The second option, if we don't want to spend money, is to try to repair the bad sectors. In addition to the Read function, Hard Disk Validator has other much more aggressive options that force you to rewrite the data and sometimes can solve the problems. The " Write + Verify " function will rewrite all the data on the hard disk and, although we will lose the data, if there is still no serious failure it will help us recover the hard disk.

Finally, we can also try low level formatting, Low Level Format. This process places all sectors of the hard disk with a value of "0". This leaves the hard disk as fresh from the factory, and if the failure is not serious, we can continue using it without problems.