Are there any free tools available to perform hard drive diagnostic? I have an old 3.5 IDE Samsung HDD which I use as an external drive through USB connection. I recently started to have problems with accessing some of the data.

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The Ultimate Boot CD has some Hard Drive tools on it that should detect any errors on the drive. Just make sure that you back up all your data FIRST. Doing intense testing on a bad drive may lead to worse failure and data lost.


Personnaly, I have used the following in the past:


  • HD Tune from EFD Software (www.hdtune.com)



  • I've used HD Tune and it's been great every time. – Hondalex Jun 5 '09 at 13:01
  • 1
    hdtune.com -> Added link for the lazy – Eduardo Molteni Jul 13 '09 at 13:14

I thought SpinRite was free, but I guess it isn't any more. Based on that I would use the manufacturers diagnostics tool, see samsungs here.

  • SpinRite has never been free as far as I can remeber, but it is the best in the business. If you really want the data back then use SpinRite, only a hardware failure (like a spindle breaking) will stop it. Plus if it doesn't work, there is a money back guarantee. – Matt Jun 5 '09 at 17:58
  • I just checked their website, they also don't offer a trial. Weird. Maybe I did buy it and I just forgot. – Bob Jun 5 '09 at 18:14

Wikipedia has a list of harddisk diagnostic software. These programs are called S.M.A.R.T. tools, they detect if some of the reliability parameters are not okay. I used the free Active@ Hard Disk Monitor to run checks on my harddisks.


The answers above with HD Tune and UBCD4Windows are great but I always would go with the manufactures own test tools. That's what I do with my Seagate HDs.

Here's Samsungs utility: ES Tool


If you do find out that a HDD is failing, you may want to check out Recovery Is Possible.


Along with all the other suggested options, you may want to look at more basic hardware factors:

  • try using a different usb cable
  • try a different usb port on the computer
  • try using the hard drive in a different external drive case
  • if available, try using esata
  • try connecting the hard drive directly to your motherboard and see if the problem occurs

And as always, if you think the drive is flaky, make a backup of the data on it asap. It will protect your data from a drive that may be dying and give you the option of doing destructive data tests if need be.


You can grab Hiren's boot cd which contains some free tools for this purpose. Website is here

Maybe you'll have to attach your drive to the IDE bus for doing your maintenance work.

  • 1
    I don't think that CD is legit. Most of that software isn't free, just pirated. Just a warning. Check out Ultimate Boot CD instead, perhaps? – Andy May Jun 5 '09 at 12:35
  • Yep, last time I checked it was full of malware too. I say UBCD4Win if you want a bootable CD, it includes the HD Tune software commented above. – Hondalex Jun 5 '09 at 13:04

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