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Drive diagnostic utilities compendium

By Rick ยท 66 replies
Sep 11, 2003
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  1. This is a listing I have put together of every major drive manufacturer and their drive diagnostic utilities. These utilities will allow you to test & diagnose your drive. Some utilities also allow you to "low-level" format (write zeros) or enable/disable certain features on your drive.

    Drive Diagnostic Utilities

    Built in utiilty for Windows 2000/XP. Start --> Run. Type chkdsk /r for full scan. Can also be run from recovery console. Not recmomended for diagnosing.

    Hitachi / IBM - DFT "Drive Fitness Test"
    Works with all manufacturers

    Western Digital "Data Lifeguard"
    Works with WD drives only

    Maxtor "Powermax"
    Works with all manufacturers

    Fujitsu "FJDT"
    Works with fujitsu models only

    Samsung "hutil"
    Samsung "es-tool" (Successor to hutil above)
    Compatability unknown...

    Seagate "Seatools"
    Works with Seagate drives only

    Toshiba - N/A
    There are no tools available for Toshiba, but you may be able to use IBM or Maxtor's drive tools as well as other third party programs

    Other Useful Drive Utilities

    HDD Regenerator - Repair bad sectors
    Repairs most bad sectors by remagnetizing the disk surface without losing your data. Works independantly of the file system, making it compatible with all PCs, operating systems and hard drives...

    Active@Partition Recovery
    Recovers most deleted, lost or formatted partitions.

    Partition Magic
    Fast and easy partitioning, Supports all Windows and most Linux file systems. Great for ignoring bad sectors and for advanced partitioning schemes.

    GPL/Freeware partitioning program for use with Windows, Linux, FreeBSD and more. Not much on eye candy, but it works. :).

    GPL/Freeware partitioning program for use with Windows and Linux. Nice, intuitive interface and comes available as a bootable CD image..

    Acronis Partition Expert
    Easy to use interface. Supports Windows and Linux partitions.

    Drive Backup Tools

    Symantec Norton Ghost
    Ghost 8.0 or less runs under DOS, but extremely reliable. Ghost 9.0 and 10 requires Windows 2000 or XP. 9.0 & 10 are Windows-centric. Ghost 9+ supports full "hot imaging" of system partitions while in Windows, but not incremental imaging.

    Acronis True Image
    Supports Windows and Linux file systems. Allows "hot imaging" of system partitions while in Windows, supporting full and incremental (fast) backups. TI 10 has been rock solid for me -- Recommended.

    Drive Secure Erase Utilities

    Darik's Boot and Nuke
    Securley erases all data on your harddrives, beyond the point of possible recovery. Use with care! Tip: remove harddrives you will not be erasing from the computer.
    Gareis and Heng Sea Hong like this.
  2. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,519

    Thanks for that useful post Rick. Should come in handy for future reference.
  3. StormBringer

    StormBringer TS Maniac Posts: 2,218

    Great list Rick. People are always either looking for one of those, or end up needing one while they are trying to sort out a problem.
  4. StormBringer

    StormBringer TS Maniac Posts: 2,218

    Thought I'd add this one to the list.
    HDD Regenerator is shareware and costs ~$40 but it can sometimes repair a disk without wiping the data. I thought it worth mentioning since there was some recent discussion about it in the IRC channel.

    HDD Regenerator
  5. Steve2004jp

    Steve2004jp TS Rookie

    thanks, RICK!!!

    Just to say BIG THANKS and GREAT JOB to Rick!
    I was lost with booting problems and almost ready to format the HD, but i could save my data thanks to the Drive fitness utility, which i found in his post.
    Keep going man! :grinthumb
  6. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,966   +223

    I added the "Drive Secure Erase Utilities" section and the program "Darik's Boot and Nuke"
  7. Richard Lamont

    Richard Lamont TS Rookie

    I recently booted WinXP to find it complaining that the last disk in my RAID 0 had failed. The array held many folders, each with 9000 148kb bitmap files in it.
    When I mounted the array in Linux there were no complaints and I managed to retrieve 1400 of the bitmaps from one of the folders (that I did not have backed up). I never thought that this would work since I believed that individual files were split among the four hard drives.
    Anyway, I left the system off for a while to cool down and managed to extract all 9000 files! Once my data was safe I tried WinXP again but it still complained about the last disk and stopped me from any access to the array.
    I am using an Adaptec 1200A RAID controller.
  8. the_webninja

    the_webninja TS Rookie

    Disk Defragmenter stuck in Loop

    I have noticed that Norton and Mcaffee Programs can LOCK UP the Disk Utilities Programs, so that no other Disk Utilities can perform tasks on the Hard Drive Correctly.
    Specifically the thing that Annoys me the Most is the inability for Windows Defragmenter to Defrag the Hard Drive.
    Even After I have Completely Closed all Programs including all Anti-Virus Programs, Un Plugged From the Internet, to Cut off any behind the scenes Traffic, Defrag is STILL Not Running right.
    The Defrag Program will start, but it will not Defrag past 1%. It goes to 1% then Loops back and Starts over, again and again and again without making any progress at all.

    I'm Stumped. I don't know what to do about this aside from Formatting the Harddrive and Starting over. Any one have any Suggestions?

  9. Ea$Y

    Ea$Y TS Rookie Posts: 59

    Thanks for taking the time to put this toegether
    Very helpful :unch:

    Cheers man
  10. Buckskin Slim

    Buckskin Slim TS Rookie

    BootMaster saved me

    Here's another one to add to the list, perhaps unique in that a real person wants to help solve your problem.

    Last Sunday I really messed up my drive on the new system by failing to reboot between app installs (duh). After installing Vegas, DVDA, Sound Forge, Norton Systemworks, and finally GoBack, I re booted, creating a disaster.

    I can't say enough good about Bob Greene and his creation, BootMaster (bootmaster.filerecovery.biz). After downloading the free demo, you run it and create a report. Then you send it into Bob, who makes a recommendation both regarding the solution and whether or not BootMaster will help solve the problem. It turned out in my case the demo alone was enough to get the job done (changing the partition from GoBack to NTFS). Amazing--real live help, basically for free.

    hope you never need it, but if so, check it out.

  11. rwesley_rn

    rwesley_rn TS Rookie

    To: Webninja

    Just some suggestions although likely not very strong ones (sorry). I think the windows defrag requires 15% of the drive to be free before it can run properly, maybe you can reboot into dos and run from there? or delete enough stuff to give you the 15% you need to run the defrag in Windows. Are you able to run the Disk Cleanup utility? And is your system tray resources closed/temporarily shut down. One last suggestion, maybe uninstall the antivirus suite/reboot and try again if you are able to reactivate your antivirus software again.
  12. Murtizzle

    Murtizzle TS Rookie

    I have a maxtor 5000LE 80gb external drive and I have been getting an I/O disk error, is there a diagnostic program for external drives?
  13. DonNagual

    DonNagual TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,382

    Looks like I am not able to test my hard drive here at home...

    I have a Maxtor Diamondmax 10 hard drive, and Powermax will not work for me since I have an nforce4 chipset.

  14. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,107   +1,589

    boot into SAFE MODE and run defrag again. Some task is writing a log file and
    this disrupts the program to start over, and over, and over.
  15. Airwalker700

    Airwalker700 TS Rookie

    What about SATA?

    Are there any disk utilities for a Maxtor SATA drive?
  16. IronDuke

    IronDuke TS Rookie Posts: 801

    MaxBlast 3 from the Maxtor site.
  17. atmikes

    atmikes TS Rookie

    HDD regenerator?


    Any of you guys have experience with HDD regenerator?

    I had a I/O error on an external USB drive (Maxtor 5000DV - 160GB - 7200 RPM)

    I dissasembled the enclosure and installed it in one of my spare system:
    a pentium III@665Mhz, 384 MB ram (it's the only one i can afford missing for a week or so)

    now i booted to the "HDD regenerator" floppy-disk, and it has run for about 12 Hours an it indicates it's has scanned 20Mb... (and found 41751 sectors with 10069 Bad sectors, 9973 bad sectors recovered)

    so a little calculation :

    Drive formatted capacity of about 152 GB (1 gigabyte = 1024 megabyte)
    152GB = 155648 MB
    at 20 Mb / 12 hours or 2.5MB / 12 hours
    or 155648MB / 62259.2 hours

    it will be about 7.3 years to finish the job, do you think this is normal? :knock:

    (and the lifetime of the drive indicates only 5 years...)

    see you in a few years...
  18. notagain

    notagain TS Rookie

    What about for Dell? :knock:
  19. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 5,746   +14

    defrag does not work well on hard drives bigger than 137gb
  20. sidheart84

    sidheart84 TS Rookie

    CHKDSK-->File record segment ***** is unreadable

    Hey guys,
    I have been asked to run CHKDSK now n then by windows. Everytime I run it I get the message CHKDSK-->File record segment ***** is unreadable eight times when performing the 1st cycle. I get it 8times where the segments are in 2 blocks of 4 each(like 3070 3071 3072 3073 and 4467 4468 4469 4470). I know that my HDD has been damaged. Windows is running fine except ones in while it says cannot access so n so file and check for HDD space. I want to know is there anything I can do so that windows knows I have bad scetors at so n so location and not access that area for storage from now on. Have ran "CHKDSK /R" which recovers the bad areas but not much help. It terminated at 75% and displayed one or more areas unrecoverable.
  21. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 5,746   +14

    if you have bad sectors on the hard disk, you'll need to low-level format it.

    I would keep a lookout on the hard disk. Developing bad sectors are a sign of failure.
  22. sidheart84

    sidheart84 TS Rookie

    CHKDSK-->"file record segment **** is unreadable

    Umm....how do I low level format it? Is it changing the NTFS file system to FAT32?? I recently installed my OS because it was unstable whne these bad sectors were found.
  23. Rick

    Rick TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 4,512   +65

    No, it is much more thorough than formatting through Windows. It basically writes "0" to every user-accessible sector of the drive.

    This type of formatting is often not enough to repair bad sectors, but it can hide them... and as long as no new ones pop up, you'll be okay.

    To repair bad sectors, you may also want to try HDD Regenerator (listed in the first part of this thread). It's not free though and isn't guaranteed to work (although it really does a great job with most problems I've encountered).

    I would suggest buying a new drive instead. Developing new bad sectors is a sign of failure and you're in for a major headache later on. 80GB drives are going for around $50. 200GB drives are only $100. And with rebate specials etc... the price goes even lower. There really aren't any good excuses to keep your drive unless your computer is really, really old or you are entirely unable to spend any money at all.
  24. nork

    nork TS Maniac Posts: 303

    The type of low-level formatting that Rick and possibly others has described is very important. What you have to do is get the make and perhaps even the model of your hard drive, with that info you go to your hard drive mfgrs website and download the diagnostic program. This prog ends up on a floppy and works in dos. You can use a win98 boot disk (even If you have win xp installed) as it works from dos. You enter dos using the win98 boot disk or any other boot disk you want to use, then put the diagnostic floppy in the floppy drive. The command differs a bit but its usually something like "write zeroes to hard drive". Just click on it and it does the rest.
    This is a very useful program as it returns the drive to factory settings. Mainly it gives you a fresh master boot record (mbr). This program is good to use when you have any problems with your hard drive, or when you get an error message something like " disk not found", any time you cant access your hard drive. Its also good to use this program when you are trying to install win xp and it wont install. I'd say 60% of the time it will fix a win xp install and if not then you know its not the hard drive thats bad!.
    So its a great program, i use it all the time. In fact, i run the "write zeros to hard drive before all my win xp installs, saves time in the end.
    Also, the "write zeros to hard drive" prog eliminates all viruses, malware, trojans, etc, etc, as a lot of them, like trojans, are in the master boot record and cant be deleted any other way. Again, a great little program.
    After running this prog then you run scandisk (win98) or chkdsk (win xp).
    Scandisk and chkdsk will mark and bad sectors off and they will not be accessed by win98 or win xp or any other os so they will not show up again as bad sectors. If you have done this and get more bad sectors right away that is a hint the drive is failing and shouldnt be used any more! Also, if you have smartdrive enabled in your bios it should tell you the drive is going bad.
    Just so you know, when you use "write zeroes to hard drive" you do lose all your data. So if there is data on your drive and you want it and if you can access the drive then take the data off that drive and put it on a cd,dvd, another drive, etc.
    Also note that after running this program you still have to format the hard drive, NTFS or FAT32 as you need.
  25. M O O T O N

    M O O T O N TS Rookie

    a little help??!!

    would i need to use 1 of these hd diagnostic tools for my hd wit the current problems i have been having??....... i recently decided to format the drive (samsung hd120ij) due to wantin to clear off everythin!! during the format (quick) it freezes at 20% and when i try a slow format it freezes at 1% then reports back that the drive may be damaged!!! ive only had it for about 4 months so its not like its old and gone senile yet!!

    if anyone can help me i would most appreciate it.

    the page explaining about the hutil program says you need to copy it to a floppy diskette i have no floppy drive in my comp, so im thinkin it will work okay burnt to cd-r if anyone thinks it wont be okay could you plz let me know b4 i do something stupid!!!!! thank you

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