Home | Blog | Software | Reviews and Features | Forum | Help | Donate | About us
topbanner_forum
  *

avatar image

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
  • December 07, 2016, 07:58:56 PM
  • Proudly celebrating 10 years online.
  • Donate now to become a lifetime supporting member of the site and get a non-expiring license key for all of our programs.
  • donate

Author Topic: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)  (Read 10140 times)

m_s

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 433
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« on: March 21, 2006, 11:33:55 AM »
A few days after I recently re-installed Windows XP, my computer crashed while I was defragging the C: drive.  I’ve had no problems with this drive, but a few years ago the main harddrive on my then-boss’s computer died – a long, long time since I had last backed it up.  It was extremely expensive to recover his data – much more, in fact, than it would have cost to buy a new computer – but this was mission-critical data, so we had to pay the money.  I was worried about my own harddrive now, so I decided to look around for some SMART disk monitoring software.

My first stop was Speedfan (donationware; http://almico.com/speedfan.php), since I already run this on my laptop.  It’s a neat and powerful little motherboard monitor that sits in the system tray and discretely displays processor or hard-drive temperature there.

http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a175/manjusura/Speedfan.png
HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)



Speedfan uses only 4mb of memory, and it gives a great deal of information – much more than I know how to make sense of:

http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a175/manjusura/Speedfan2.png
HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)



My only problem with Speedfan is that it can only display one or the other piece of information in the system tray – drive temperature or processor.  I like to be able to keep an eye on processor temp, as my beloved Pavilion ZD7010 simply switches itself off if the temp gets above 70 degrees C (something that hasn’t happened since I cleaned its heatsink a few months back), so I need both displayed at once.  Granted, you can get both in a tooltip, but I like being able to see them without having to touch my mouse.


So I moved on to a program I saw mentioned a while back on Lifehacker: HDD Health (donationware; http://www.panterasoft.com/).  Like Speedfan, HDD Health puts an icon in the system tray:

http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a175/manjusura/HDDhealth.png
HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)



Unlike Speedfan, that icon doesn’t give you any information in tooltips; but when you click it, you get a clear display of your drive’s details, and on the various tabs, detailed information about the drive-state. 

http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a175/manjusura/HDDhealth2.png
HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)



HDD Health uses 6mb of memory, and it has some very good features, such as sending email or network alerts when the drive overheats or is getting to a dangerous state.  And it’s donationware/freeware.   

But, you’ve guessed it: I have to click something to get my information, and I don’t like that.


Next, I tried O&O Software’s DriveLED ($19.95; http://www.oo-softwa...products/oodriveled/).  This is quite sweet: it displays each drive and partition separately, and you can use the image of the drive as a shortcut – so double-clicking on C: in this picture will open an Explorer window at the Root. 

http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a175/manjusura/DriveLED.png
HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)



Also, double-clicking on the picture of the harddrive – at left in this image – brings up XP’s built-in Disk Management console, which could be very useful.  You can also set it to monitor plug and play drives, which is a nice feature.  It uses between 4 and 8mb of RAM.

It hides at the screen edge and rolls out on mouseover – at least that’s the idea; actually, this feature’s not working very well for me, and it is why I decided to try yet another similar program.  I position DriveLED where it’s most useful for me – just above the system tray; but it seems to get very confused.  It is meant to hide at the right edge of the screen; but every time I restart Windows, DriveLED hides itself behind the Taskbar, and then won’t come back up – it leaves just a sliver of itself in view, and if I use the mouse to pull this up, I’m left with just that sliver of the window!  Oh dear: I didn’t know it would do this, but in trying to get a screenshot of this, it’s gone and done a variation on this behaviour – now all I’ve got is the edge that’s usually visible when it is properly docked to the right! 

http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a175/manjusura/DriveLED2.png
HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)



And I can’t do anything with the sliver, either – so I have to close it down and restart.  This happens every time I run DriveLED, and as much as I like some of its features, I just can’t be dealing with this odd behaviour.


And that brings me to today’s final candidate: HDDlife (http://www.hddlife.com/).  At $29 for the full version, it’s the most expensive of the various programs I’ve tried, but I believe it’s the best (and read on, dear DonationCoder member, because there’s news of a discount coming up).  There is also a limited freeware version – in fact, after 14 days, the full version just reverts to the free one.

First of all, HDDlife has that coveted feature of displaying the drive temp in the system tray:

http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a175/manjusura/HDDlife1.png
HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)



But not just the temp – that line under the number is ‘life status progress bar’, which tells you about your drive’s health and performance.  (You can see from this screenshot that, actually, mine’s doing pretty well!)  You can choose from a number of options for how information is displayed.

A tooltip gives you all the information you might need in a glance:

http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a175/manjusura/HDDlife2.png
HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)



And when you maximise the main window, you get a representation and a summary of drive health, some sage advice ("do not forget to back up your data at least once a week since nobody is protected against bad luck"), and a display of space usage on all partitions:

http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a175/manjusura/HDDlife3.png
HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)



It would be nice if you could, as in DriveLED, use the ‘Logical disks info’ panel as shortcuts to the partitions, but at the moment you can’t do that.  It also doesn’t monitor external drives – really, this is a different kind of feature to a drive-health analysis (since none of my external media are SMART enabled anyway), but it would be quite useful.

As you can see in the screenshot above, you can also adjust the noise/performance ratio with any AAM (Automatic Acoustic Management) enabled drive.

As with HDD Health, warnings can be sent to networked computers, or via email, and it also has a pretty nifty line in audio warnings – my other laptop has squawked a few times while I’ve been writing this: it’s too darn hot!  Or you can set HDDlife to turn your computer off, or set it to hibernate, when the temperature rises over a threshold that you set.

The next great feature is that HDDlife can re-skin your drives – so the iconset that you choose in this window is applied system-wide, so wherever you look at your drives, these are the icons that will be used:

http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a175/manjusura/HDDlife4.png
HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)



And you can check your drives’ health from within any program – you may have noticed the little green dot over the drive in the screenshot for HDD Health(?) – well, that’s HDDlife showing that all is well.  Likewise, when you open a file in Word (or any other program), you can see how your drives are doing:

http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a175/manjusura/HDDlife5.png
HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)



So, there it is: my brief overview of drive-health monitors.  What I like most about HDDlife is simply the fact that it displays the temperature in the system tray, and I know that Speedfan, which was where I started from, could do exactly this – but when I combine this necessary feature with the various other nice touches it offers, HDDlife Pro is definitely my choice for best-of-category.  Although HDDlife Pro is also the heaviest on resources, usually clocking in at 10mb on my machine, I have no hesitation in running it myself, and recommending it to you.

I’ve been in touch with the developers of HDDlife Pro, and they’ve offered a 30% discount on their program – Mouser is going to post the link for this in the Members Only section.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2006, 12:10:08 PM by m_s »

Carol Haynes

  • Waffles for England (patent pending)
  • Global Moderator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 7,986
    • View Profile
    • Dales Computer Services
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2006, 12:26:06 PM »
Nice review - I am off to try it out ...

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,410
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2006, 12:55:54 PM »
wow - awesome minireview!

Carol Haynes

  • Waffles for England (patent pending)
  • Global Moderator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 7,986
    • View Profile
    • Dales Computer Services
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2006, 01:01:41 PM »
I have tried HDD Healt and HDD Life Pro - one thing I like about HDD Health is the amount of info on each drive and the honesty of the drives health assessment! HDD Life Pro has more bells and whistles (literally if you have a nearly full partition on your system like me) but the detailed info is not as readily available - you can save a report but it is pretty cryptic content.

nudone

  • Cody's Creator
  • Columnist
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 4,117
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2006, 02:53:28 PM »
thanks for the review, m_s.

not sure if i'd actually use any of the programs - maybe the discount will tempt me.

svv1999

  • Participant
  • Joined in 2005
  • *
  • Posts: 8
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2006, 05:26:09 PM »
I like to be able to keep an eye on processor temp, as my beloved Pavilion ZD7010 simply switches itself off if the temp gets above 70 degrees C (something that hasn’t happened since I cleaned its heatsink a few months back), so I need both displayed at once.

Because speedfan has an integrated event management there is no need for any display.

You can get a pop-up for every temperature, fan speed or voltage condition you like.

Edit:
If one really wants more than one item displayed, say n, one can still have n installations of speedfan where each installation is configured to show the desired value.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2006, 07:10:53 PM by svv1999 »

Darwin

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 6,984
    • View Profile
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2006, 07:02:49 PM »
HD Tune http://www.hdtune.com/ is a freeware app that also allows you to view the temperature in the sys tray and provides easily accesible detail about the health of the drive...
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

crono

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 179
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2006, 07:55:35 PM »
Does one of thoose tools support / monitor RAID (RAID 1 on a promise controller) Discs?

longrun

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 154
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2006, 09:57:57 PM »
Just don't be lulled into a false sense of security. Every hard disk failure I've had (not a scientific sample) has been sudden, catastrophic, and without warning.

svv1999

  • Participant
  • Joined in 2005
  • *
  • Posts: 8
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2006, 10:20:54 PM »
Does one of thoose tools support / monitor RAID (RAID 1 on a promise controller) Discs?
Think! The controllers work consists of pretending one drive, although there are at least two. How can any program running on top of the OS break through this camouflage, if the controller does not provide any s.m.a.r.t status?

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,410
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2006, 03:12:22 AM »
i want to echo longrun's very wise advice (even if it is spoken from a cat that looks like it is on drugs).
almost all hard disk failures i've had seem to have been suddent and catastrophic, so no matter what drive monitoring tool you have, don't assume it is going to save you from a crash, and make sure you have backups always.

svv1999

  • Participant
  • Joined in 2005
  • *
  • Posts: 8
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2006, 03:43:15 AM »
i want to echo longrun's very wise advice
I am echoing none of you. The only total failure I ever had, announced itself by sporadic losses of compressed drives under Win95.
Since then I am content with Maxtor/Quantum HD's and their offline drive fitness test utility. This utility allowed me to replace two HD's in time, i.e. during the guarantee period. A third HD is considered faulty by this utility since about six years, but is still used for tests of Linux distributions without any problems.

f0dder

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 9,029
  • [Well, THAT escalated quickly!]
    • View Profile
    • f0dder's place
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2006, 04:48:39 AM »
m_s, you have a non-zero reallocated sector count... if the application is showing this value correctly, it's time to replace that drive ASAP.
- carpe noctem

m_s

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 433
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2006, 05:02:06 AM »
Thanks for the warning - which meant nothing to me!  After a bit of research on this, I'm pretty sure it counts down from 100 - as in 100% a-okay.  (At least I hope so...)

f0dder

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 9,029
  • [Well, THAT escalated quickly!]
    • View Profile
    • f0dder's place
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2006, 05:06:41 AM »
I hope so :) - a "reallocated sector" happens when your drive determines there's a bad sector. It notes this in an internal map, and chooses a spare sector that all references to this sector will be mapped to (all modern drives have a smallish pool of spare sectors). In other words, a non-zero amount of reallocated sectors means your drive has some problem. And once you have one bad sector, others tend to follow...
- carpe noctem

Carol Haynes

  • Waffles for England (patent pending)
  • Global Moderator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 7,986
    • View Profile
    • Dales Computer Services
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2006, 05:31:29 AM »
I have had a few drives go bad - all the SMART enabled drives have given me warning (which is a little reassuring) but then nothing beats proper backups ... ahem - I'd better do one!

m_s

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 433
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2006, 05:37:47 AM »
For Carol: Off topic - Beware:

Spoiler
How do we in England claim our waffle?


Carol Haynes

  • Waffles for England (patent pending)
  • Global Moderator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 7,986
    • View Profile
    • Dales Computer Services
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2006, 08:52:21 AM »
For Carol: Off topic - Beware:

Spoiler
How do we in England claim our waffle?


Had to think about that ...
LOL - haven't got a waffle iron but you are welcome to pancakes if you get to the Yorkshire Dales


Darwin

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 6,984
    • View Profile
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #18 on: April 07, 2006, 10:36:20 AM »
Hi all - I have had TWO hard drives in two different notebooks fail over the past two weeks. Frankly, I'm fed up with notebooks in general and notebook drives in particular. I have had 4 fail while in use as the primary drive and two others (pulled when I upgraded) develop errors while in use as USB external backup drives. That makes 6 total in about two years in use in three different notebooks. Pathetic. Anyway, back on topic, I am posting because neither of the recent failures that I experienced gave any advance warning at all.

As soon as I have a bit of cash burning a hole in my pocket (should be around 2015 at the rate I'm going), I'm buying a desktop!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Carol Haynes

  • Waffles for England (patent pending)
  • Global Moderator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 7,986
    • View Profile
    • Dales Computer Services
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #19 on: April 07, 2006, 10:49:27 AM »
I hope so :) - a "reallocated sector" happens when your drive determines there's a bad sector. It notes this in an internal map, and chooses a spare sector that all references to this sector will be mapped to (all modern drives have a smallish pool of spare sectors). In other words, a non-zero amount of reallocated sectors means your drive has some problem. And once you have one bad sector, others tend to follow...

Maybe a sign of my age but ... I thought all hard drives have odd bad sectors. Low level formatting with the drive manufacturers tools hide them from the user but there will always be odd sectors that go bad for one reason or another over time without the drive necessarily dying - this is especially tru of the large format drives available now.

f0dder

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 9,029
  • [Well, THAT escalated quickly!]
    • View Profile
    • f0dder's place
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: HDDlife Pro (and other disk-health reporters)
« Reply #20 on: April 07, 2006, 12:10:18 PM »
I hope so :) - a "reallocated sector" happens when your drive determines there's a bad sector. It notes this in an internal map, and chooses a spare sector that all references to this sector will be mapped to (all modern drives have a smallish pool of spare sectors). In other words, a non-zero amount of reallocated sectors means your drive has some problem. And once you have one bad sector, others tend to follow...

Maybe a sign of my age but ... I thought all hard drives have odd bad sectors. Low level formatting with the drive manufacturers tools hide them from the user but there will always be odd sectors that go bad for one reason or another over time without the drive necessarily dying - this is especially tru of the large format drives available now.

Not in my experience - I have quite a bunch of drives, and none of them (except the gone-bad ones) have a non-zero realloc sector count.

HOWEVER, any drive will produce an amount of correctable CRC errors.  This has to do with drive density et cetera. The same goes for CD and DVD media. You don't see these as an end-user, iirc the correctable CRC errors don't show up in normal SMART logs (I could be mistaken though), and for CD/DVD media you'll need advanced tools like PlexTools to see them. A steady (but low) amount of correctable errors is fine, but if the rate goes up or has spikes, then you're likely to have a problem.
- carpe noctem