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Author Topic: Hard Disk Sentinel PRO - Mini-Review  (Read 18139 times)
IainB
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« on: February 02, 2012, 08:31:58 PM »

Originally posted:2012-02-02
Last updated:2012-11-22

Basic Info
App NameHard Disk Sentinel PRO
Thumbs-Up Rating Thmbsup Thmbsup Thmbsup Thmbsup Thmbsup
App URLhttp://www.hdsentinel.com/
App Version ReviewedStarted with freeware Trial version in Dec. 2010, then later installed paid PRO Version.
Free upgrades have taken this to v4.10 as at 2012-09-17.
Test System SpecsComparison table of features between different versions (Trial, Standard, Professional, Enterprise) is here.
Detailed features are listed here.
Supported OSesWindows XP/2003/Vista/7/2008 32/64 bit
Support Methods
  • FAQ
  • Complete Help
  • Hardware Compatibility (index, details)
  • Knowledge Base
  • Discussion Board
  • Driver Zone (index, details) HDS seems to be able to cover all sorts of disk interfaces and hardware - e.g., including IDE, S-ATA, SCSI, RAID controllers, disk enclosures, USB and other external devices.
Upgrade PolicyAutomatic free upgrades for free Trial and for paid PRO versions.
Trial Version Available?Yes. Features are detailed here.
Pricing SchemeI started to use the free Trial version in December 2010.
I purchased the paid PRO version in March 2011.
At time of purchase, HDS PRO had a 20% discount coupon (2011-03-18) applicable to purchases of trial downloads. (The Trial is just a hobbled version of the PRO, and the full functionality is enabled on entry of the registration key.)
 - Full price: US$35.00
 - Purchased at 20% discount: US$28
(I did not obtain the price for the Enterprise version as I was not interested in it at the time.)

SCREENSHOTS OF APP INTERFACE:
This is the Overview tab:                   This is the Temperature tab:
                                           

Saving the Temperature graph:


This is the S.M.A.R.T. tab:                 This is the Information tab:
                                           

This is the Log tab:                           This is the Disk Performance tab:
                                           

This is the Alerts tab:                        There's a Desktop gadget too:
                                           

Introduction:
HDS PRO is an automated and integrated disk performance monitoring, management and recovery system. It maintains useful logs and charts of disk status/performance, and can take predetermined actions based on specified disk conditions/events.
Quote
Overview: (Copied from website.)
Hard Disk Sentinel (HDSentinel) is a multi-OS SSD and HDD monitoring and analysis software. Its goal is to find, test, diagnose and repair hard disk drive problems, report and display SSD and HDD health, performance degradations and failures. Hard Disk Sentinel gives complete textual description, tips and displays/reports the most comprehensive information about the hard disks and solid state disks inside the computer and in external enclosures (USB / e-SATA). Many different alerts and report options are available to ensure maximum safety of your valuable data.

No need to use separate tools to verify internal hard disks, external hard disks, SSDs, disks in RAID arrays as these are all included in a single software.

Hard Disk Sentinel monitors hard disk drive / HDD status including health, temperature and all S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) values for all hard disks. Also it measures the disk transfer speed in real time which can be used as a benchmark or to detect possible hard disk failures, performance degradations.

HDSentinel is the perfect data protection solution: it can be effectively used to prevent HDD failure and SSD / HDD data loss because it has the most sensitive disk health rating system which is extremely sensitive to disk problems. This way even a small HDD problem can't be missed. The Professional version has scheduled and automatic (on-problem) disk backup options to prevent data loss caused by not only failure but by malware or accidental delete also.

Who this app is designed for:
HDS PRO would be a useful addition for any computer system where the user wished to avoid being caught out unprepared for gradual progressive disk performance/health deterioration and sudden disk failure events.
That's why I got it, and, though I did not expect it to be of much use with my new laptop and disk, HDS PRO has already identified and warned me of a minor and non-fatal problem with my disk, within the warranty period, and advised me that the problem is not something that needs to be or could be addressed through the warranty at this stage.

Having HDS PRO provides some greater peace-of-mind, because it will give you advance warning (and it has done in my case) when something is amiss with the disk before a serious disk error occurs, so that you can monitor the status and mitigate the risk and migrate to a new disk before a complete disk failure event.

The Good:
An excellent piece of software that so far has done its job very well (as above) on my laptop.   Thmbsup
There is also a desktop gadget for Windows 7.
I think the claim by the publishers that:
Quote
HDSentinel is the perfect data protection solution
- is a legitimate claim.
It runs unobtrusively all the time the laptop is being used, and has minimal system overhead.

The needs improvement section:
I have not observed that anything needs improvement. No annoyances.
(The software automatically gets updated periodically, to cope with improvements and new hardware and drivers.)

There has been a recurring issue of the real-time performance monitoring getting disabled in the Registry (see Edits below). This has been fixed as at 2012-09-17.
____________________________________
EDIT 2012-09-17:
Quote
Hooray! This seems to be an effective fix to the episodic real-time performance monitoring issue:
(for more info., refer HDS FAQ page http://www.hdsentinel.com/faq.php)

The real time performance monitoring worked per the Registry settings workaround (see earlier edit below), but after some time (for example after connecting/removing external hard disk, pendrive or similar storage device) it stopped working and I periodically had to reset the Registry settings - i.e., the Registry settings change did not "stick". This was apparently caused by a function in HDS which provides for performance monitoring when a new device - e.g., an external hard disk - is connected/detected. When this happens, Hard Disk Sentinel has a function that clears the performance object cache and re-detects the performance objects. On some systems (regardless of hardware configuration) this function apparently causes the Windows performance monitoring settings in the Registry to be disabled.

If this happens, you can disable this HDS function as follows:
  • 1. click "start" (Windows) button and to the search field enter REGEDIT
  • 2. open REGEDIT
  • 3. navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\HD Sentinel (or HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\HD Sentinel under 32 bit Windows), where you will see a lot of keys.
  • 4. create a new STRING key named DisablePerfCacheClear and specify a value of 1 for that.
Then restart HDS, which now will not issue this special function to clear the performance object cache when it detects the change of configuration, so the performance counters will continue working normally - once reset in the Registry. Those Registry settings should now "stick" and not need to be reset again.    Thmbsup
____________________________________
EDIT 2012-06-02:
Quote
I have been having two episodic issues with HDS PRO:
(for more info., refer HDS FAQ page http://www.hdsentinel.com/faq.php)
  • 1. It doesn't always start up with Windows like it should (this has since been fixed by putting HDS into the Startup folder).
  • 2. The Registry settings to enable real-time disk performance settings do not "stick", so I have now automated the workaround changes to the registry in a .reg file, contents as follows:
The [BLANK] lines must be just that - blank lines.

The steps are:
  • shut down HDS PRO (if it is running).
  • in Windows Explorer, double-click on the .reg file (I call mine Enable disk perf counters.reg).
  • restart HDS PRO.

That's all. The real-time disk performance monitoring should now be working in HDS PRO.
You don't need to reboot or anything.
Please note, this is in Win7-64 Home Premium. The appropriate .reg commands and even rebooting may well be different for other versions of Windows.
____________________________________

Why I think you should use this product:
If you have these points in common with me, then you will be able to make good use of HDS PRO.
  • I am always concerned to maintain data integrity on my laptop, and the worst that could happen to a disk is that it could suddenly permanently fail. Such an event would be a crisis. I would then have to focus all my resources on recovering my data from backups and installing everything to a new disk - i.e., including my data and the operating system. To be caught with your pants down - e.g., without a recent data backup - in such a crisis could be a major hassle. However, the crisis could be avoidable.
  • What I wanted was something to give me peace-of-mind as to the ongoing state of performance/health of the disk, so that I could get a mitigation plan under way well before the disk actually failed.
  • I was unsure whether I needed this software at first, which was why I decided to use the Trial version and do a "suck-it-and-see".
  • The Trial version was very impressive, and, because I wanted all the functionality of the PRO version, I purchased a licence.
How it compares to similar apps:
I have trialled different software that does good S.M.A.R.T. analysis and reporting, and, though they were good, they seemed rather rudimentary (which I found surprising) - e.g., Crystal Disk Info, Seagate Tools, SpeedFan. I have not come across anything quite like HDS PRO, which does all that and more - an automated and integrated disk performance monitoring, management and recovery system. It maintains more useful logs and charts of disk status/performance, and can take predetermined actions based on specified disk conditions/events.

Before trialling HDS, I had used SpeedFan for a long time, which also does S.M.A.R.T. analysis and reporting, but I used it mainly for system temperature and fan monitoring and control (at which it is excellent and it has negligible system overhead). I still use SpeedFan for that.

Conclusions:
Superb.
Does what it says it does, and very well.

Links to other reviews of this application:
If you google "Review Hard Disk Sentinel", you will be able to find lots of reviews, but they seem to be mostly from shareware download sites, so perhaps are not entirely independent.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2012, 08:41:43 PM by IainB; Reason: Updated application interface shots (added more) and amended some notes/format. » Logged
IainB
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« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2012, 08:34:24 PM »

(Cross-posted for relevant information.)
Just FYI.
I have been trialling Hard Disk Sentinel Pro for a couple of months and decided it was very good and that I would buy it.
I have not written a review here, because the experience will probably vary from user to user depending on their needs and their hardware.
However, I will state that one of the many features that I especially like about HDS Pro is that it can perform a SMART test on my USB-connected 500GB hard disk drives (I use them for backup). This will give me time to prepare to migrate to other backup devices as soon as the SMART tests show a degradation of a particular drive.

HDS Pro has a 20% discount coupon currently (2011-03-18) applicable to purchases of trial downloads.
 - Full price: USD35.00
 - Purchased at 20% discount: US$28
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IainB
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« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2012, 08:39:01 PM »

(Cross-posted for relevant information.)
It looks like HDS is starting to prove its worth.
On 2011-10-11 HDS started ringing alarm bells as it gave early warning and reported that:
Quote
There are 21 bad sectors on the disk surface. The contents of these sectors were moved to the spare area.
Based on the number of remapping operations, the health of the disk was decreased in different steps.
At this point, warranty replacement of the disk is not yet possible, only if the health drops further.
It is recommended to examine the log of the disk regularly. All new problems found will be logged there.

It is recommended to continuously monitor the hard disk status.
(see attachment in previous post)
This isn't actually very serious as things stand.
Disk performance was rated still as 100%, but disk health was reduced from 100% to 69%.
The Log showed two problem events:
  • 2011-10-11  17:26:15 #196 Reallocation Event Count 0 -> 21
  • 2011-10-11  17:26:15     #5 Reallocated Sectors Count 0 -> 21

Real time performance monitoring is not supported on this disk, so it will not be possible to continuously monitor the hard disk status. Therefore I shall need to periodically manually trigger a check.

As soon as I got the alerts, I read the log and then, with some urgency:
  • I kicked off a disk image backup  (a standard Windows 7 64-bit feature).
  • I kicked off a recovery disk written to CD-ROM (a standard Windows 7 64-bit feature).
  • I ran the standard Widows defrag analysis. It showed 3% fragmentation of files, so no action required.
  • I initiated CHKDSK with the /F option ("Fix errors") from the command prompt, rebooted the PC, and watched whilst CHKDSK did its thing before Windows started up. CHKDSK reported that it had fixed several minor errors - so nothing major.

I am now running a fresh incremental backup of all main data directories. This was something I used to do on a daily basis, but I have been a bit slack these last few weeks. It'll be back to paranoia for a while now.

I'm not sure whether to wait and see if the disk health deteriorates further before I request a new hard drive under warranty from HP. I have only had this HP ENVY 14 laptop for about 10 months.
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IainB
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« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2012, 08:39:45 PM »

(Cross-posted for relevant information.)
...i don't use any realtime drive monitoring tools.. i should.
Thanks for answering my Q.
I asked because I do use such a tool, but (being paranoid), though it gets a very good write-up and has a great spec., I don't know whether it will work for sure in warning me in advance of an imminent disk failure. I therefore wanted to learn vicariously from any relevant experience you might have had. It's HDS PRO (Hard Disk Sentinel PRO) - i.e., not the freeware version - and it notified me in October 2011 that on the disk in my 11-month old laptop:
Quote
- it had logged
2011-10-11 17:26:15     #196 Reallocation Event Count 0 -> 21
2011-10-11 17:26:15     #5 Reallocated Sectors Count 0 -> 21

- that:
     Performance = 100%
     Health = 69% (downgraded from 100% due to the above logged events)
(This is still the current status of the disk at time of writing this post.)

And it gave me the recommendation:
Quote
There are 21 bad sectors on the disk surface. The contents of these sectors were moved to the spare area.
Based on the number of remapping operations, the health of the disk was decreased in different steps.
At this point, warranty replacement of the disk is not yet possible, only if the health drops further.
It is recommended to examine the log of the disk regularly. All new problems found will be logged there.

It is recommended to continuously monitor the hard disk status.
So, "belts-and-braces", I then ran a full system CHKDSK on the disk, and then tried to enable HDS PRO real time performance monitoring.
However, though HDS PRO can continuously monitor a disk if you tell it to, the disk has to be able to support that feature, and in my case HDS PRO said:
Quote
Real time performance monitoring is not supported on this disk.
- so I have to periodically trigger HDS PRO to recheck the disk, just in case. (So far, so good.)
Not having it automated doesn't alleviate my paranoia though!

Lesson learned:
Quote
Try to ensure that any disks bought in the future do support RT performance monitoring
- i.e., for increased peace-of-mind.
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4wd
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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2012, 11:20:04 PM »

I think I win smiley

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Ath
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« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2012, 01:31:33 AM »


That only depends on what you want to win tellme
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IainB
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« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2012, 02:13:28 AM »

I think I win smiley
That's interesting. Could you post the log of that disk? I'd like to see how it progressed from when the deterioration set in up to that 9% point.
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4wd
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« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2012, 03:49:56 AM »

That's interesting. Could you post the log of that disk? I'd like to see how it progressed from when the deterioration set in up to that 9% point.

There is no log, well not AFAIK, the HDD, (a Samsung HD753LJ SpinPoint F1), is over 2 years old and is currently used as transient storage.  Although, the features of the drive says Error Logging is supported, GSmartControl shows that no errors have been logged.

TBH, I'm not that concerned about the remap figure reported mainly for the reason you've picked up, there is no time reference.

I don't know whether the remaps occurred:
a) evenly spaced at 1 every 11 hours or so;
b) all at once within the first month;
c) all at Christmas because I was inebriated and did something stupid;
d) they just appeared through the magic of quantum physics because I observed them.

Putting it into perspective, it's ~819kB out of 750GB.  Naturally, Murphy's Law will dictate that it only happens to a significant area of the HDD.

I'd be more concerned if it had reported it that the HDD was unable to remap the sectors.

Interestingly, the Reallocation Event Count shows zero events, it should show the number of successful and unsuccessful sector remaps.




BTW, I'm running WD (640GB & 750GB), Seagate (1.5TB) and Samsung (2x1TB & 750GB) HDDs in my machine, of them all the WD HDDs have the best statistics.....they're also the oldest HDDs in the machine.
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IainB
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« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2012, 04:46:51 AM »

No, sorry, I meant the Hard Disk Sentinel log for that drive. That will be displayed for that drive on the Log tab - the fifth one in from the left in your screenshot.
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4wd
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« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2012, 05:19:03 AM »

No, sorry, I meant the Hard Disk Sentinel log for that drive. That will be displayed for that drive on the Log tab - the fifth one in from the left in your screenshot.

There is no log, the first time I ran HDS is after you wrote about it smiley
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IainB
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« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2012, 06:56:19 AM »

There is no log, the first time I ran HDS is after you wrote about it smiley
OIC, sorry, I did not realise that.
A pity. I would have liked to read a real case HDS log for a drive, starting with the initial performance deterioration event(s) and ending with something like your disk's 9% health status. Nothing like learning from a case study when contemplating risk avoidance.
I have contacted hdsentinel.com and asked them for this.
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« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2012, 12:21:06 PM »

Just bought the standard version. Thanks for the review Iain!
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« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2012, 02:53:51 PM »

I find it to be a very useful app. I also use it to test drives when I install a new one.

BTJ has the "Family license" at 30% off right now. I'm almost sure I got mine during a nomal BTJ promo some time back for around 50% off. At that price it's quite a value.

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4wd
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« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2012, 06:02:21 PM »

OIC, sorry, I did not realise that.

My fault, should have made it clearer.

I still find it interesting that there is no correlation between Reallocation Event Count and Reallocated Sector Count, the former should be equal to or greater than the latter.
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IainB
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« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2012, 08:46:21 PM »

Just bought the standard version. Thanks for the review Iain!
Thankyou. You're most welcome. I'm pleased if it's been of use/help. I have got a lot of education/benefit from reading the various informative software reviews/discussions in this forum, so I am just returning the favour.
Though initially too impatient to use the Mini-Review template (it's a bit tedious to use with all the BBS code), I became more accepting of it after my first tooth-grinding attempt at using it.
As a template though, it seems quite comprehensive.

I'm not sure, but I think I might have first read about HDS in a DCF member's signature somewhere. I have been unable to find out which one now though. Anyway, I thought that if someone felt that HDS was worth putting in their signature, then it might be worth looking at the product. It was!    Thmbsup
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« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2012, 02:29:01 PM »

It gives a lot better overview than the generic SMART monitors out there.
Nice to know that my 8 months old disk is stil at 100% everywhere. Must check other machines smiley
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« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2012, 02:58:23 PM »

Though initially too impatient to use the Mini-Review template (it's a bit tedious to use with all the BBS code) [...] As a template though, it seems quite comprehensive.
I've never tried it, but, if you used the full template, I think it's incomplete.  It may give the software name, but it doesn't seem to give a brief explanation of what the software does.  The name on is own isn't always a clear enough indication of function.
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IainB
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« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2012, 04:51:10 PM »

I've never tried it, but, if you used the full template, I think it's incomplete.  It may give the software name, but it doesn't seem to give a brief explanation of what the software does.  The name on is own isn't always a clear enough indication of function.
If you go to the Mini-Reviews by Members section, and click on New Topic, it opens up a draft post/message box already filled with the template (complete with table), for you to enter the review details. You just need to fill in the details where indicated.

The result of all that will probably be similar to the (my) opening post in this review thread. The template saves trouble (work) and provides useful reminders as to what details you could include in the review - so it's really quite handy. The BBS code is all the special commands in the template - and that is what I find a bit slow and tedious, working amongst all that. I would prefer a WYSIWYG template, that's all. Faster/simpler.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2012, 04:58:34 PM by IainB » Logged
IainB
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« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2012, 03:49:44 AM »

I have been using HDS PRO v3.70, and on the Disk Performance tab it said that "Disk performance monitoring for this drive is disabled", and the tab was otherwise blank.
However, there is a fix that enables disk performance monitoring.
I only found out about it after getting HDS PRO to update itself today - from v3.70 to v4.0.
When HDS PRO restarted after the update, the Disk Performance tab it said that "Disk performance monitoring for this drive is disabled" but also gave a link for further information: http://www.hdsentinel.com/faq.php#perf

The contents of that link are copied in the spoiler below:

I followed the instructions there (more or less):
Quote
On my installation, the performance information was missing for only the main disk, but I ensured that disk performance monitoring was globally enabled anyway:
  • Click Start -> Run -> CMD.EXE (to open a console window) and type diskperf -y (ENTER).
  • Restarted the computer to let Windows create the performance counter objects on startup.
However, on the HDS PRO Disk Performance tab it still said that "Disk performance monitoring for this drive is disabled".
So I:
  • Click Start -> Run -> Regedit
  • navigated to the subkey: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Perfdisk\Performance
  • selected the value called Disable Performance Counters listed there; it had a numerical value of one (1), so I changed it to zero (0), and rebooted.

It worked a charm.
After the reboot, HDS PRO showed real-time Disk performance monitoring on my laptop's main drive.

EDIT 2012-02-16:
I spoke too soon. It worked a charm, but it didn't "stick", and the HDS panel for that drive reverted to the message:
Quote
"Disk performance monitoring for this drive is disabled"
So I followed the instructions in the spoiler above where it says:
Quote
"If the above does not work, you can manually..."
- and that worked a charm too, but again it did not "stick".
I am currently at a loss as to how to make it stick.

EDIT 2012-06-02:
I have been having two episodic issues with HDS PRO:
  • 1. It doesn't always start up with Windows like it should, and I have not yet figured out why.
  • 2. The Registry settings to enable real-time disk performance settings do not "stick", so I have now automated the workaround changes to the registry in a .reg file, contents as follows:
The [BLANK] lines must be just that - blank lines.

The steps are:
  • shut down HDS PRO (if it is running).
  • in Windows Explorer, double-click on the .reg file (I call mine Enable disk perf counters.reg).
  • restart HDS PRO.

That's all. The real-time disk performance monitoring should now be working in HDS PRO.
You don't need to reboot or anything.
Please note, this is in Win7-64 Home Premium. The appropriate .reg commands and even rebooting may well be different for other versions of Windows.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2012, 09:45:28 AM by IainB; Reason: Updated 2012-06-02 0225hrs (NZT) » Logged
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« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2012, 12:49:22 PM »

One quick comment... I have been using HDS Pro for a while. I had used Speedfan and others in the past, but nothing worked properly in my current computer (i.e.: unable to get any information from SMART).

HDS works just fine.
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« Reply #20 on: February 15, 2012, 04:12:04 PM »

@stq: There's quite a bit of information/discussion on the Speedfan site about the criteria necessary for Speedfan and S.M.A.R.T to work on some PCs/hard drives.

Also: Please note my edit to my last post above re getting disk Performance Monitoring to work. It doesn't seem to "stick" and has to be re-set.
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Slartibartfarst

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« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2012, 01:15:54 AM »

The developer (Janos) at Hard Disk Sentinel sent me a link to some cases of problems discovered using HDS.

They are under under Support -> Knowledge base -> Hard disk cases, here: http://www.hdsentinel.com/hard_disk_cases.php
I had asked him to send me some details and he has just now put up these cases on the Support pages of their website.

I think I shall send him my contribution.
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rjbull
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« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2012, 02:23:45 PM »

06 March Bits du Jour e-mail:
Quote

Hard Disk Sentinel Professional Family License for PC - Coming Soon

  Links:
    1. http://bitsdujour.us2.lis...51b9c3b0&e=b07d947299

            [2]Hard Disk Sentinel Professional Family License
52% Off
$29.99   $62.50

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sujay85
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« Reply #23 on: June 01, 2012, 04:21:30 AM »

06 March Bits du Jour e-mail:
Quote

Hard Disk Sentinel Professional Family License for PC - Coming Soon

  Links:
    1. http://bitsdujour.us2.lis...51b9c3b0&e=b07d947299

            [2]Hard Disk Sentinel Professional Family License
52% Off
$29.99   $62.50


Still there is a 30% off promotion and in case you are interested in a free license feel free to participate in the contest in my site.  Cool

I hope I am not spamming.  tellme
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IainB
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Slartibartfarst

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« Reply #24 on: June 01, 2012, 09:25:12 AM »

This might save some time:
I have added this EDIT to my post above, thus:
EDIT 2012-06-02:
I have been having two episodic issues with HDS PRO:
  • 1. It doesn't always start up with Windows like it should, and I have not yet figured out why.
  • 2. The Registry settings to enable real-time disk performance settings do not "stick", so I have now automated the workaround changes to the registry in a .reg file, contents as follows:
The [BLANK] lines must be just that - blank lines.

The steps are:
  • shut down HDS PRO (if it is running).
  • in Windows Explorer, double-click on the .reg file (I call mine Enable disk perf counters.reg).
  • restart HDS PRO.

That's all. The real-time disk performance monitoring should now be working in HDS PRO.
You don't need to reboot or anything.
Please note, this is in Win7-64 Home Premium. The appropriate .reg commands and even rebooting may well be different for other versions of Windows.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2012, 09:46:05 AM by IainB » Logged
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