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.
Hitachi Drive Fitness Test is free hard drive diagnostic software available for use on most drives available today.
The Hitachi Drive Fitness Test software is available as an ISO file which can be burned to a CD and then used to boot the computer. See the installation instructions from Hitachi in the link below for details.
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 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 in 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.
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.
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 Window's default tool.