The hard drive is one of the essential parts of most computer systems. What makes it special is that it contains data, so that a hard drive failure or errors can have consequences that are more serious than failures of other PC components.
While those may hurt too, considering that you may buy a new piece of equipment, a hard drive failure may lead to data loss if there are no backups or only partial backups.
Hard drive health monitoring software usually checks SMART data of hard drives that offers many different information including the minimum and maximum temperature, read errors, performance information, and for how many power cycles it has been in use.
HDD Expert is a free software for the Microsoft Windows operating system that comes as a setup and portable version.
If you have downloaded the portable version, you can start it right from the directory it was extracted to. The program displays all hard drives connected to the PC at the time of start under General.
Here you can switch between the hard drives to look at the S.M.A.R.T. values. Next to that are important information such as the current temperature reading of the hard drive -- usually 0 for Solid State Drives -- and the number of power cycles and operating hours.
Hard drives do need to support the functionality as no data will be displayed otherwise by the program; all modern hard drives to the best of my knowledge support these.
The message pane on the right highlights whether the drive's health status and temperature is ok or not, and also offers suggestions on how to improve the situation. It suggests to create a backup for example, and if temperature reaches critical levels, to consider adding fans to the hard drive or PC case.
Side note: The Fans and Spare buttons link to the Amazon website where hard drive fans or spare hard drives can be purchased. The Backup button to the website of the developer where a download software can be downloaded.
The SMART data is displayed under Errors / Damage. The title of the pane is not that appropriate, considering that the data does not necessarily display any errors or damages if the hard drive's health is good.
You can check the error rates here in detail, or simply trust the program's interpretation under Message.
The only other option that HDDExpert provides you with is to enable the automatic refresh feature so that data is refreshed automatically in intervals.
The portable program is great for a quick check-up of your hard drives, but lacks notification features so that you need to use it actively when you want to check the health or performance of the connected drives.
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.