There are many free hard drive testing tools available to help you determine what, if anything, is wrong when you suspect there may be a problem with a hard drive.
Some of these tools may be built in to your operating system already while others are available from hard drive manufacturers.
Important: Replace your hard drive if it fails any of your tests.
Note: Several excellent premium hard drive testing tools are available as well.
Seagate SeaTools is free hard drive testing software that comes in two forms for home users:
- SeaTools for DOS supports Seagate or Maxtor drives and runs independent from your operating system on its own CD or disk, making it highly reliable.
- SeaTools for Windows is a program that installs on your Windows system. You can do basic and advanced testing of any kind of drive - internal or external - from any manufacturer.
For those looking for SeaTools Desktop, SeaTools Online, or Maxtor's PowerMax software, please note that the two tools above have replaced all three. Seagate now owns the Maxtor brand.
Note: You do not need to own a Seagate or Maxtor hard drive to use SeaTools.
HDDScan is a free hard drive testing program for all types of drives, no matter the manufacturer.
There are several tools included in HDDScan, such as SMART and a surface test.
The only download link available is the one below, which is a portable version of HDDScan, meaning it doesn't install to Windows.
DiskCheckup is a free hard drive tester for Windows 8/7/Vista/XP and Server 2008/2003 that should work with most hard drives.
SMART info like read error rate, spin up time, seek error rate, and temperature are displayed, as well as the ability to run a short and extended disk test.
Details in the SMART section can be configured to send an email or display a notification when their attributes exceed the manufacturer's recommended threshold.
Hard drives that have a SCSI or hardware RAID connection are not supported and can not be detected by DiskCheckup.
Note: DiskCheckup is free for personal use, so use the green Download Now! button to get the free version.
GSmartControl can run various tests with detailed results and give an overall heath assessment of a hard drive.
You can view and save SMART attribute values like the power cycle count, multi zone error rate, calibration retry count, and many others.
Also, GSmartControl can run three self-tests to find drive faults:
- Short Self-test: Takes around 2 minutes to complete. Is used to detect a completely damaged hard drive.
- Extended Self-test: Takes 70 minutes to finish and examines the entire surface of a hard drive to find faults.
- Conveyance Self-test: 5 minute test that's supposed to find damages that occurred during the transporting of a drive.
GSmartControl can be downloaded for Windows as a portable program or regular installer. It's also available for Linux and Mac operating systems as well as included in a couple of live CD/USB programs.
Hitachi Drive Fitness Test is free hard drive diagnostic software available for use on most drives available today.
The download link below installs the Hitachi Drive Fitness Test software to the Windows OS.
Note: You do not need to own a Hitachi hard drive to use Drive Fitness Test (DFT).
Error Checking, sometimes referred to as scandisk, is a hard drive testing tool that comes with Microsoft Windows that can scan your hard drive in search of a wide range of errors.
This tool can also attempt to correct a number of hard drive problems.
Samsung HUTIL is a free hard drive diagnostic utility for Samsung hard drives. HUTIL is sometimes called ES-Tool.
Samsung's HUTIL tool is available as an ISO image for burning to a CD. This makes HUTIL operating system independent and a better testing tool, in general, than those designed for use within Windows. It's also possible to run HUTIL from a bootable floppy disk.
Note: HUTIL will only test Samsung hard drives. HUTIL will load and find your non-Samsung drive but you will not be able to run any diagnostics on the drive.
Western Digital Data Lifeguard Diagnostic is free hard drive testing software designed for Western Digital branded hard drives only.
The Western Digital Data Lifeguard Diagnostic software is available as a regular Windows program download as well as a bootable, ISO format and allows for a number of hard drive tests. See the installation instructions from Western Digital in the link below for details.
Note: Data Lifeguard Diagnostic will also run diagnostics on hard drives from other manufacturers but the primary drive in the computer must be a Western Digital drive.
Bart's Stuff Test is a free, Windows-based hard drive stress test.
There aren't a lot of options in Bart's Stuff Test and it's not as thorough as some other tests on this list. However, it's a decent addition to your hard drive testing arsenal, especially if you're having problems testing with an ISO based tool above but want something besides the Windows default tool.
Fujitsu Diagnostic Tool is a free hard drive testing tool designed for Fujitsu hard drives.
The Fujitsu Diagnostic Tool (FJDT) is available in both a Windows version and an operating system independent, bootable DOS version. Unfortunately, the bootable version is designed for floppy disks - a CD image is not available.
Two tests are available with Fujitsu Diagnostic Tool, a "Quick Test" (about 3 minutes) and a "Comprehensive Test" (time will vary based on hard drive size).
Note: Fujitsu Diagnostic Tool will perform hard drive tests on Fujitsu drives only. If you have any other make of hard drive, try one of the manufacturer independent tests listed toward the beginning of this list.
11. HD Tune
HD Tune is a Windows-based hard driver tester that works with any internal or external hard drive, SSD, or memory card.
You can run a benchmark read test with HD Tune, check the health status with Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART), and run an error scan.
Windows 7, Vista, XP, and 2000 are supported.
Note: To avoid downloading a trial of the professional version, scroll down a bit on the download page to find HD Tune, skipping over HD Tune Pro.
Free EASIS Drive Check is a hard drive tester that has two main testing utilities built-in - a sector test and a SMART value reader.
The SMART test lists 20 values about a hard drive while the sector test checks the surface of the media for read errors.
The report of either test can be read straight from the program when complete, configured to be sent to you over email, or printed off.
Free EASIS Drive Check is said to work with Windows 2000 through Windows 7, but I was able to use it properly on Windows 8 as well.