When you get a brand new hard drive or you suspect something is wrong with your current one, you should: check for errors† The best way to detect various internal errors is to use free hard drive testing software. Don’t worry about paying for premium diagnostic tools as all hard drive manufacturers have their own.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the best free hard drive testing tools. However, before using any third-party software, it’s a good idea to check Microsoft’s chkdsk tool† It is reliable enough for most hard drive problems and is installed by default on every Windows system.
Western Digital Dashboard has replaced the outdated Data Lifeguard Diagnostic tool. It has a much more modern look and is very user-friendly. Please note that it is only available for Windows systems.
The WD Dashboard automatically detects your Western Digital drives. If your PC has multiple drives, you can select them all from a drop-down menu. The program displays general information about the drive, such as model number, drive status, temperature, capacity, and life remaining. You can also track real-time performance. Check the read and write speeds of your hard drive.
WD’s free hard drive testing software also comes with drive tests, firmware update capabilities, and an option to erase your drive.
Seagate, another popular disk manufacturer, developed SeaTools for Windows, Linux and DOS. The DOS version will run faster and can fix bad sectors, but it is quite difficult to use. That said, the Windows and Linux versions offer all the features you need test your hard drive† SeaTools also supports hard drives from other manufacturers.
The user interface is somewhat outdated, but it’s intuitive and you don’t need any technical knowledge to test your drives. You can check for driver corruption, system file corruption and much more. Just select your driver and test it.
Despite the name, this free hard drive testing software also supports SSD drives, Flash USB drives, and RAID array servers.
HDDScan can detect bad blocks and bad sectors, it can monitor various disk parameters such as temperature, and it provides various types of tests. You can easily run general health and read/write tests and see if your hard drive is degrading or malfunctioning. HDDScan also works with almost all drive models.
DiskCheckup is a free hard drive diagnostic utility that works with almost any drive. You can monitor SMART attributes and predict when a hard drive is likely to become unreliable. You can check your hard drive boot time (if you have an HDD), monitor temperatures in real time, and run short or extended tests.
DiskCheckup can also detect the Host Protected Area and Device Configuration Overlay, which are hidden areas on your hard drive. You can delete them to see data not normally accessible to users.
Please note DiskCheckup is free for personal use only. For commercial use you must purchase a license.
Samsung Magician is a Windows SSD management program. It allows the user to easily update the firmware of an SSD, monitor the health and performance parameters of the drive, and it can also perform diagnostic scans. The downside is that it only supports Samsung SSDs.
The user interface is probably the best we’ve seen in any free hard drive diagnostic software, so testing your SSD is an easy-to-use process that doesn’t require any technical expertise. If you have a Samsung SSD, Samsung Magician is one of the best options.
GSmartControl is a free disk inspection tool that works for any brand of HDD or SSD. You can download it for Windows, macOS and Linux.
The user interface is easy to navigate for beginners. You can quickly inspect SMART data to get an idea of the health of your drive. GSmartControl tells you everything you need to know about drive identity, hardware specifications and also gives you performance statistics.
The great thing about GSmartControl is that you can run it in the background to perform a quick disk analysis every few hours without impacting your PC’s performance.
These free hard drive testing software tools are best for running regular diagnostics and monitoring your drives in real time. There are other free tools that were once popular, but we can’t recommend them anymore because many of them only support the older Windows versions up to Windows 7. The ones on our list also work with Windows 10 and 11.
If you’ve discovered a great free hard drive testing program, let us know in the comments!