Check the health of your hard drive

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One of the frustrating things about computers is that the hard drive can die at any time.  Sometimes this happens without any warning – it just crashes (are your files backed up safely in case that happens?).  In other cases, you might see some signs of hard drive failure – noises that aren’t normally there, or minor crashes that don’t kill it completely.

However, another scenario is that your hard drive could be offering some warnings of imminent failure… and you just don’t see it.  That’s because the warnings are not obvious.

hard drive crash


Seriously – when was the last time you checked your hard drive’s Seek Error Rate?  Do you know its current Power Cycle Count?  Or even its temperature?  Of course not.  Only the most hard-core geeks would know stuff like that.

But there is a way for you to monitor the health of your hard drive, and it’s pretty easy.  You can use this cool little program called CrystalDiskInfo.  It’s available free here.
(NOTE: don’t click the big “Download” button at the top of the page, as it is just an advertisement for an unrelated program.  Instead, find the CrystalDiskInfo section, and click on “Installer Edition” to install it.)

hard drive health

During the installation, watch for this screen and be sure to UNcheck that box so that you don’t get another stupid toolbar (seems like every piece of software these days wants to load you up with more toolbars):

hard drive health


After the program is installed, go ahead and run it.  In a very short time, it will display a window full of information that you don’t need to know.  Lots of techy stuff.  Don’t worry about all that data!

There are only 2 things you need to look at in that window: Health Status and Temperature.  In the image below you can see I have blurred out all the things you ignore.

hard drive health


This makes it very simple.  If the Health Status is good, it will show that in blue.  Yellow means potential problems that you should be aware of.  Red means definite problems that you need to have checked out right away.  Easy!

The important thing to remember is this:  if you have important files such as documents, pictures, music, etc. and the only place they are stored is on your computer’s hard drive, you are in risk of losing those files if your hard drive suddenly dies.  Don’t take that chance.


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Joanna Pinkham
April 22nd, 2012

Hi Scott,

This worked great, thank you.

I am just wondering why the temp came up in centigrade for me (32 degrees C) not in Fahrenheit like your example (89 degrees F).


Scott Johnson
April 22nd, 2012

It defaults to Celsius – I changed mine to Fahrenheit before I took the screenshot.

Alice Hattenbrun
April 23rd, 2012

What is a Good temperature ?

Scott Johnson
April 23rd, 2012

That will vary among different computers, and laptops generally run at a higher temp than desktop computers.