Tuesday, July 27, 2010

HD Tune Pro helps keep laptop alive

I have always recommended HD Tune for use in monitoring the temperature of a laptop hard drive, but never thought I'd use it as a maintenance tool. It was only recently, after Penny's HP Pavilion DV6204EU laptop started doing wierd things, that I decided to try out the new HD Tune Pro to see if it could tell me anything about her hard drive.
I have always been frustrated with her laptop, since the laptop blocks or hides the SMART information on the drive, and SpinRite won't run. So the normal preventive maintenance gets really tricky, and I have never had the courage to remove the drive and plug it in to a different machine to run SpinRite. After installing the trial version of HD Tune Pro I ran the "Error Scan" and discovered to my horror that there were multiple bad sectors on the drive. This could easily explain why the laptop was freezing from time to time. Next, I ran "chkdsk /R" to get Windows to move any data from those regions, and mark them as bad.
The screen shot above shows the result: the bad sectors are in red, and the rest of the drive seems to be OK. It also shows the "Speed Map" of the drive, with the faster regions near the outside. I'll be monitoring it for further bad sectors, and plan on replacing the whole thing as soon as funds permit. Had HP not blocked access to the SMART information, these problems could have been avoided a long time ago. I won't be replacing it with another HP laptop either; Acer never had this problem.
I have published a more detailed review of HD Tune and SpinRite on my new reviews site. Benchmarks are still under way.


Unknown said...

donn, it's not that the HP hides the smart info, it is just a case of the BIOS not handling the hook with the OS API which results in the lack of SMART info when inside the OS - if you were to boot from an image (e.g. UBCD for Win) the SMART data will in fact be displayed...furthermore, testing your drive from a boot image (rather than an OS in motion) will always provide you with more accurate native information

Donn Edwards said...

HP makes the BIOS, so it amounts to the same thing. There is no option in the BIOS to turn on SMART data, and SpinRite uses its own OS and boots from a CD or memory stick.

I would love to try UBCD4Win but the CD drive is very flaky. I'll give it a try, since nothing else has worked.