Spinning around at roughly 7200 revolutions per minute, hard drives fail. It is a fact of life.

And if you are lucky, you or your tech use a tool like Hard Disk Sentinel to check the built in S.M.A.R.T.reporting metrics that can show you whether or not your drive is healthy.

Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology is included in all modern storage devices. And one attribute in general is a pretty good predictor of failure, the Reallocated Sectors Count (RAS). A number outside of normal ranges will generally be shaded in Yellow (for caution) or Red, meaning critical ! Over the sixteen years that I have been in this business, I have relied on the RAS value… regardless of the drive brand or the generic S.M.A.R.T reporting tool used, to tell me when it was time to clone a client’s drive to a new healthy one.

There are also other reporting attributes available from S.M.A.R.T, and some of them are also critical. Most notable are Reallocation Event Count, Current Pending Sector Count and Uncorrectable Sector Count. However, generic S.M.A.R.T. reporting tools may not be able to read all manufacturers storage devices correctly due to unique implementations of S.M.A.R.T by each manufacturer. So if you are ever in doubt, go to the drive manufacturer’s site (see links below)  and download and run their diagnostic tool to get the best and most reliable results.

You should also have your tech check to see if the motherboard in your computer(s) has the ability to monitor S.M.A.R.T at boot, and if so… make sure that capability is enabled!

This also means that you must not ignore any warnings of impending drive failure at the boot screen! Because the only real solution to a failing drive is to copy it right away before it does fail. There is no other “fix”. So when you see any warning or suspect that your drive may be in trouble, be sure to copy all of your data NOW while it is still readable.

For more information check out my page Hard Drive Failure and Data Recovery.



Diagnostic Tools for Major Hard Disk Manufacturers

Western Digital

How to test a drive for problems

Data Lifeguard for Windows


How to use SeaTools for Windows

Download and install SeaTools


How do I test the Hard Drive on my computer?

Toshiba PC Diagnostic Tool