Frequently asked questions
How to start using HD Protector?
How to start using Hard Disk Protector? Hard Disk Protector is designed to start automatically with the system and run in the background, to monitor hard disk information (temperature, health, performance, etc.) and report any kind of problems as early as possible.
To-do list to prevent data loss, be informed about possible hard disk problems, let's see a quick tutorial to begin with Hard Disk Protector:
check the text description and health values reported for your hard disks / SSDs and follow if Hard Disk Protector reports problems/recommendations, especially if it recommends backup.
use test methods in Disk menu to reveal and fix possible problems.
after verifying that the status of the hard disks are stable, it may be good idea to configure alerts to be notified about any kind of possible new problems or set up advanced functions (backup, daily status reports, remote status monitoring, etc.)
Let's see these with more details!
Immediate overview of problems
In its main window, Hard Disk Protector gives an immediate description about the problem(s) found and the Health bar shows the overall health level (0-100 %) of the hard disk/SSD, based on the detected problems. For solid state disks (SSD), if no problem reported, the health may indicate the generic wearout of memory cells.
0 % means that the error-threshold reached when the hard disk is about to fail, data corruption / data loss may happen any time. In such situations, warranty replacement should be asked (if applicable) as the hard disk is considered "bad". Usually new operating system installation is not possible on such hard disks.
Hard Disk Protector shows both the current health, temperature, performance and generic lifetime statistics immediately. Also shows a text description indicating the amount of problems found with the hard disk/SSD and/or the storage system in general (for example it may describe issues found with faulty data cables, connections or problems related to power source).
There generic tips, recommendations are also displayed especially if the problem requires immediate action: perform backup, replacement or stop using the current configuration to prevent data loss.
Why hard disk temperature is so important?
High speed hard disks, small and crowded chassis can cause very high temperatures. This means that the hard disk is not able to cool down. Disk performance and reliability significantly decrease as temperature increases and above 50 °C failure can occur any time. Disk manufacturers often limit the maximum operating temperature to 50 degree centigrade. However, it is recommended to keep your hard disks at lower temperature (approximately 35-40 °C is good) to increase their life time.
How Hard Disk Protector warns me in case of a problem?
The tray icon immediately reflects the problem by flashing a red X icon. Hard Disk Protector displays a tray icon bubble with the error and the hard disk. Optionally it is possible configure message alerts, sound warnings and the software can turn off the computer to prevent further degradation. This version can also execute any external application or start a (backup) operation immediately, for example to backup data immediately from the failing drive to another.
The drive icons displayed in any application (for example, Windows Explorer) reflect the disk health status and free space of the drive.
If the small status window is visible, the error of the problematic hard disk is displayed there. You can check the details by inspecting the details and the full S.M.A.R.T. information table for the hard disk. The error is also logged into the log of the hard disk.
I have bad sectors and my disk health is 90%. Do I need to worry or ask for replacement drive?
I have bad sectors and my disk health is 90%. Do I need to worry or ask for replacement drive?
It is important to know that any small, microscopic scratch or dust can cause some bad sectors on the disk surface. It is hard to avoid all of these problems and it is possible that the drive is not 100% perfect, but the health is still "excellent", so you do not need to worry about these sectors.
Especially, because these sectors are not used any more: the hard disk reallocated them and all read and write operations are redirected to the spare area instead.
The problem would start only when the number of these sectors increase (decreasing the health value of the disk).
Hard Disk Protector is the only software which is sensitive enough to detect the real number of problems and give textual description based on the real status of the hard disk.
The important thing is that it can detect any slight decrease in the health. For example, you can be alerted and can verify any (even very small) problems occurred with your hard disk - otherwise such problems may not be noticed, until the disk failure appears.
Hard disk health is low or recently changed or I just installed a new (used) hard disk. How can I perform a deep analysis ?
All problems found during the lifetime of hard disk are reported in the text description field for this hard disk. If the hard disk health is not 100% and the text description shows problems (for example "bad sectors"), it is recommended to click on the "?" button next to this field as it describes the current situation.
However, there may be even further problems which may not yet detected, for example on less frequently accessed surface areas. To reveal any problems (and correct them), it is recommended to use the hard disk tests available in HD Protector.
When the hard disk health changes, it is highly recommended an immediate backup of all stored data to an other hard disk prior any diagnostics.
In this situation, the most important is to verify if the hard disk status is stable (regardless of the health %) or if there are further problems which may not be revealed yet. This determines if the drive can still be used or if replace is required.
Different hard disk tests are available in the Disk menu. First of all, try Disk -> short self test which generally checks hard disk components (heads, servo, internal memory, etc.). It may quickly report problem but it is possible that it completes without problems - as this test does not scan the entire hard disk surface. The next step is to use the Disk -> Extended Self-test option which is a hardware test with complete surface verification. If this completes without error, the hard disk surface seems to stable at the moment. However, if the health is less than 100%, it is expected that it will report an error at some point of the test and will stop.
If this happens, the Disk -> Surface Test option should be used. This contains different test steps which run in controlled and managed environment. For the first time, it is best to use the READ test. This may not fix possible issues but may reveal the amount and the seriousness of errors. If this completes without error (all data blocks will be green as on this image, then the disk already fixed all problems and it is safe to use it in the future.
However, if yellow and/or red spots (example image) or even larger areas (example image, example image) are affected, there are further problems expected which cause data loss.
Can the health be improved? Can it be restored to 100 % ?
If the hard disk had weak sectors, their status can be improved during the tests. This may result in increased health value - even to 100 % if there were no other problems found with the drive. In all other cases, the health may decrease if the status of the drive is not stable and newer problems are revealed.
If the drive is stable: the health does not change even after many passes of the write tests, the previous problems may be cleared on the S.M.A.R.T. page by using the Offset column. This way the health can restored to 100 %.
Why it is good to use the disk tests of Hard Disk Protector? Why it is not enough to simply copy files (to force reallocation)?
During the tests in the software, the hard disks are under better control and monitoring compared to plain file operations. The file system is unmounted to prevent the operating system and other software from accessing the disk and the status of the file system (for example fragmentation) does not affect the test.
The performance of the blocks, retry count and disk health and tempearature are all factors which are continuously monitored during the tests. It is even possible to inspect the sector contents any time. Like surgery is only possible in hospital - hard disk testing and repair has its own controlled environment.
Hard Disk Bad sectors?
What is a "bad sector"? How they born and how they can be fixed? Users are confused because verifying the disk surface with software (for example by using Windows Scandisk) does not report any problems or bad sectors.
S.M.A.R.T. is constantly analysing the disk surface during normal operations. If it finds a problemmatic area (one or more sectors where the data is hard is hard to read or write), it tries to read the data and copy it (reallocate) to the spare area. The original location is then (internally) marked as bad and all further read/write operations pointing to the original location is then redirected to the spare area.
When the operation is completed, the original (bad) area is not accessible by software any more. Even re-install or complete re-format will not show problems because the original bad area is not used any more. That's why software (for example Windows' Scandisk) will not find problemmatic sectors. Only the hardware security erase function will access this area (clearing these sectors also).
That's why for example DOS "format" command will never show bad sectors on most modern hard disks because of S.M.A.R.T. (except if the spare area is full but it is really hard to find a such hard disk).
Reallocation of the sectors may be completed with or without some errors (hard disks are working much better now compared to older models). But the reallocation procedure may cause system instability if it takes too much time.
The user should not notice anything about the steps described above - just when the number of bad sectors is high enough (the threshold is reached) and then S.M.A.R.T. predicts a possible failure.
A very small scratch or mote on the disk surface can cause some bad sectors. Usually, if the number of bad sectors is low, they do not cause big problems. But if their number is constantly increasing (and the displayed health value is decreasing), these can lead to failure. It is recommended to monitor your hard disk constantly if your hard disk is not 100% perfect.
Hard disk weak sectors?
A "weak sector" or "pending sector" (the same but with different name) is a sector where the CRC check showed problems on a read operation, but (currently) no physical problem encountered. The drive marks such sector as "pending sector" and on next write operation(s) the drive verifies the status of the corresponding sector to confirm if it can be re-used or not.
If things are good, the drive sector could read back and there are no signs of problems, then the status of the sector set back to normal (the number of such weak sectors may decrease and there is no re-allocation). But if this verification shows failure, then the drive starts the reallocation process and marks the sector as bad - to completely disable its later use and re-direct all further reads and writes to the spare area instead. Then the number of bad (reallocated) sectors may incrase and they may be reported in Hard Disk Protector.
Usually, weak sectors can be caused by
real drive failure (error with internal memory, problem with drive head or surface)
power loss (the write operation could not be completed because of power loss)
power failure (weak power supply or not stable power line)
data cable failure or improper connection (usually cause also communication errors ) system memory or motherboard problem
general overheating of the motherboard, chipset, hard disk controller
SSD health - Perfect SSD with low health?
The text description may contain that the SSD is perfect but the health is relatively low. This can happen if the SSD has no errors, no signs of bad sectors (bad memory cells) or similar problems.
However, due to the wearing of the memory cells caused by write operations to the SSD, the health of the SSD is constantly decreasing. The wear-leveling feature of the SSD tries to minimise this effect - but can't be totally eliminated.
The current health of this SSD is determined by some specific S.M.A.R.T. attribute(s), for example the "#209 Remaining Drive Life" (or one or more other attributes) as mentioned by Hard Disk Protector. If you select that attribute on the S.M.A.R.T. page, you can check how it changed over time on the graph below the list.
If the health of the SSD is low, it is possible that the data stored in the memory cells will become damaged or lost. Hard disks are not affected by this (wear) effect, so it is possible to find lots of hard disks with 100% health (even after years of usage). In contrast, the health of the SSDs is constantly decreasing over time.
Hard Disk Test?
It is recommended to periodically analyse and verify the disk status (especially if the hard disk is not perfect, the health is below 100%). Hard Disk Protector offers high number of tests from the Disk menu: including hardware self-tests, to analyse the functionality of the hard disk components and the entire surface.
These hardware tests can be started from the Disk menu, the Information page or automatically (scheduled) on the Operations page. Also the Disk menu Surface test can be used to verify the disk surface with both read and write tests to reveal and fix disk issues.