And it is necessary to take into account that the hard drive works as the heart of our PC, since each piece of information flows through it. All data is stored only on the hard drive, from work documents, through vacation photos, videos or music, to almost all firmware. That is why it is important to know in advance what can be wrong with our HDD or SSD to avoid data loss.
Defrag and Optimize Drives Application
The easiest option with which to check the status of our hard drive is by using the application Defragment and optimize drives that we can find installed by default in Windows 10 and Windows 11. Defragmentation is the process by which the data stored on the hard drive is reorganized. All the related chunked data pieces are put back together and lined up in a neat and clean successive manner. That is why defragmentation not only improves the health of the disk, but also improves the performance of the PC in general.
While traditional SAT hard drives may be losing weight heavily to considerably faster Solid State Drives (SSDs), they are still very popular as an affordable way to store all of our stuff. . Although SSDs work differently and do not require defragmentation since this is related to where the data is physically stored on the disk, which is not a relevant factor in SSDs, sometimes they require optimization.
Therefore, if we notice that our HDD is slowing down, we should check how fragmented it is. To do this, we use the Start menu search box to type defragment and select the Defragment and Optimize Drives tool.
Once open, select the drive and click Optimize for which we will need administrator rights. Once done, it will run a fragmented file scan and optimize the drive for better performance. This will make us notice that our PC is faster again. Of course, we must be careful not to defragment the hard drive in the case of an SSD, since they do not require it and can even reduce its useful life.
Use command line tools in Windows
Windows has two command line tools such as CHKDSK and WMIC that will allow us to locate errors on our hard drive and repair them.
Both Windows 10 and Windows 11 also have a built-in command line tool called CHKDSK, which is responsible for scanning our hard drive to help us find system errors, as well as possible bad sectors. It also helps us check your health status by showing us any possible errors. The tool will attempt to analyze and fix potential issues and will let us know if it finds a larger issue that it is unable to fix.
In order to use it, we must first launch the Command Prompt, for which we are going to use the Start menu search engine, where we write CMD and select the Run as administrator option.
Next, to perform a scan and repair of the disk we write:
chkdsk C: /f /r /x
Keep in mind that C: corresponds to the letter of the drive that we want to analyze. Also, the /f parameter causes the command to fix all detected errors automatically. In turn, and /r causes all bad sectors on the disk to be found and, if possible, the information.
To solve failures with CHKDSK on units formatted as NTFS we write:
In this way, if we notice somewhat suspicious behavior in the drives, before things get worse we can use this command.
Use WMIC command
We are talking about an application that runs on the command line and that allows us to carry out many administrative tasks, including the possibility of checking the health status of our hard drive. To do this, it uses the SMART function of the disks to see their status and provide a simple conclusion since it is a very basic command.
To do this, we launch Command Prompt and run it as administrator. Then we execute the following command and press Enter:
Next, we type this other command and press Enter:
diskdrive get status
Once analyzed, it will show us the state in which it is. If everything goes well, it should simply show us OK.
Third Party Applications
We can also use third-party applications specially designed to help us check the status of our hard drive. These programs use the SMART function of hard drives to get and display the data, just like WMIC. In addition, they show much more detail so that we can obtain much more complete and accurate results.
With this complete tool we will be able to control the status and performance of our hard drive. We will be able to see from the state of health to the reading and writing speeds, in addition to having a series of additional useful tools on many occasions, for example, a thermometer with the temperature of the disk, an error search engine, a status monitor and even a tool to perform secure deletions to a hard drive. We can download a 15-day trial version from its official website. The price of your license is 24.95 euros.
To be able to read the SMART data, click on the «Health» and on the screen we will see how SMART has a series of controls and registers. If the values appear white, everything is normal, the hard drive does not have to fail. As errors are detected, these entries change between yellow, alert, and red, which indicates that the disk can fail at any time and we can lose our data.
To be able to check all the sectors of a hard disk, click on the «scan error«. From here the program will analyze our entire hard drive and show us the status of each sector. In this way we can know at all times if any part of the disk is somewhat damaged or may be causing some kind of problem. It has two types of analysis.
The quick scan analyzes the surface of the disk and would show us serious errors. It also has a slow scan that scans the entire hard drive sector by sector. It is a very slow process that can take days. Once we have selected the type of test we want to do, click on the Start button and wait for it to finish. Finally, the button «Speed Map» will show us, instead of the detected errors, the reading speed of the disk in each one of the sectors.
If we prefer to use a free tool, CrystalDiskInfo can be a great option as it is as simple as it is powerful. With it we will obtain all the required information such as temperature, health status, types and characteristics of the hard drive, as well as other attributes such as the read and write error rate, activation time, etc. We can download its 32-bit or 64-bit version from the developer’s website. In addition, it is possible to download its portable version so that its installation is not necessary and it can be run from external storage devices such as a hard drive, pen drive or memory card.
Once we run the tool, we must wait a few seconds until it loads and we can see a complete report of our hard drive, such as its health status, temperature, and other details such as the number of hours it has been in operation, the transfer mode, and the supported features. Inside the tab Function we can access your advanced options.