A computer’s hard disk is responsible for storing all data from files to pictures and videos to the operating system itself. However, with time, the disk/storage starts to deteriorate and thus increasing a chance of data corruption or worse, total data loss. HDD Guardian is a software for Windows PC that lets the user know about the disk health, errors and when to get a replacement.
HDD Guardian is basically a front-end for smartctl – a S.M.A.R.T. data extraction tool from disks which contains various information regarding its health, errors occurring, data relocation, bad sectors, etc. The user interface is pretty simple with “Overview”, “Manage” and “System” tabs. The software has support for both internal and external drives and displays the information for all online-connected drives in the overview tab. Overview includes information regarding the current temperature of the HDD, overall health and bad sectors encountered.
The software performs its own specialized tests and reports the results on starting. Virtual devices loaded from a shared smartctl output can be monitored as well as normal drives and the information is provided as notification bubble in the taskbar. S.M.A.R.T. can be enabled or disabled with automatic offline data collection using periodic scans and auto-save of vendor specific attributes. Attribute information and other information can be displayed in graphs for better comparison along with detailed error logs. Device specific attributes can be set too as well as debugging the device firmware. The software while monitoring can be set to generate warnings on errors encountered as well. USB drives including docking stations are supported as well. Fully supported controllers include Dell PERC H200/H200E, Intel QM 77 RAID controller, LSI adapters and Microsoft Storage Spaces Controller. JMicron and Silicon Image controller have limited support while Marvell controller has no support due to the controller drivers. The software is certified to be used in Windows 7 as well as Windows 8. The software is available in various languages including English, German, Finnish, and several others.
GSmartControl is another such front-end for smartctl on Windows with identical facilities and is also available on other platforms as well. Smartmontools has a similar front-end as well with identical feature set. HDD Scan is another freeware, which has support for large amount of hardware and also supports RAID volumes. HDDLife Pro is a commercial alternative with more feature set but less language support as well.
HDD Guardian is a free open-source smartctl front-end with excellent feature set. S.M.A.R.T. data can be visualized and vendor attributes set or unset with active monitoring and disk controller firmware debugging support. The only drawback being the lack of benchmarking tools for determining I/O rate over a period of time to find actual performance hit. Though it is somewhat compensated for the fact that the project is actively maintained and is available for many languages.
About Samuele Parise
HDD Guardian is an open-source project and is community driven with official code being hosted in CodePlex and Google Code as well and hence is also ideal for hobbyists who want to tinker around.
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