Seagate creates two free hard drive testing software programs - SeaTools for DOS and SeaTools for Windows. While both testing tools are excellent, they are different.
SeaTools for DOS is more powerful but is a bit more difficult to use. SeaTools for Windows isn't as full featured but it's much easier to install.
Both programs are completely free and I highly recommend them. If you suspect that your hard drive may be failing, one or both of these tools from Seagate will help you determine what's wrong.
Important: You may need to replace the hard drive if it fails any of your tests.
Note: This review is of SeaTools for DOS v2.23 and SeaTools for Windows v220.127.116.11, released on May 22, 2010. Please let me know if there's a newer version I need to review.
More About Seagate SeaTools
Seagate SeaTools is available in both a Windows version and a stand-alone, bootable version for maximum flexibility, called SeaTools for Windows and SeaTools for DOS, respectively.
Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP are all supported operating systems in the Windows version while SeaTools for DOS can be used no matter what operating system is installed on the hard drive, including none at all.
SeaTools for Windows
As I mentioned above, SeaTools for Windows installs to your computer like a normal program. It can perform several basic tests that can help determine the health of your hard drive, and all types of internal drives can be tested, such as SCSI, PATA, and SATA drives.
To get started, visit the SeaTools for Windows download page and accept the license agreement. Follow the download and instillation instructions shown.
SeaTools for DOS
Don't let the for DOS part scare you away - SeaTools for DOS works with any kind of PC, no matter what operating system is installed.
To get started, visit the SeaTools for DOS download page and accept the agreement. Click the DOWNLOAD button to download the SeaToolsDOS223ALL.ISO file.
See my How to Burn an ISO Image File to a CD or DVD tutorial if you've never burned an ISO image before (it's different than burning normal files to discs) and then How to Boot From a CD or DVD for help getting SeaTools for DOS going.
Unfortunately, I was not able to get SeaTools for DOS working properly from a USB drive.
Seagate SeaTools Pros & Cons
There's little not to like about this excellent set of hard drive testing tools:
- Two versions are available depending on needs
- Both versions are easy to use once installed and are completely FREE
- SeaTools for Windows tests hard drives no matter the manufacturer
- SeaTools for DOS contains a highly useful "acoustic test" for noise troubleshooting
- SeaTools for DOS is OS independent so it's automatically compatible with ALL operating systems
- SeaTools for DOS requires ISO image burner software that novice users may have difficulty using
- SeaTools for DOS handles a maximum of only 100 errors, at which point testing has to begin again
My Thoughts on Seagate SeaTools
Seagate's SeaTools hard drive testing programs are some of the easiest to use of any I've ever worked with. The tests are basic, easy to run, and generally pretty fast in my tests.
Your available hard drives and tests are easy to see when the program opens and can be started with just a few clicks of the mouse.
SeaTools for DOS can also perform the several basic tests that SeaTools for Windows can run but it can also run a very useful Acoustic Test (on Seagate and Maxtor drives only). This test can really save you a lot of time if you think your hard drive is making noise. It will spin the drive down until it's completely idle, making the drive nearly silent. If you no longer hear the strange noise, the hard drive was the culprit!
So if you're comfortable burning ISO images and you want a slightly more powerful set of tools, use SeaTools for DOS. If you're more of a novice or you just want a quick and basic hard drive test, give SeaTools for Windows a try.