The hard drive on a PC is a crucial component and it pays to keep an eye on its health. There are a variety of programs designed to check or monitor the status of hard drives. (For example, see this list.) One kind of test involves scanning disks for bad sectors and errors. A free program of this type is Macrorit Disk Scanner. It was recently updated to version 2.9.0 and I thought I would take a look at it.
Although Windows comes with a native tool called Check Disk (chkdsk.exe), some PC users prefer third-party utilities. This one is very easy to use and is said to do quicker scans than Check Disk. The developer’s site is here. There are three download links on the page. Two larger ones are from the well-known download sources CNET and MajorGeeks. Beware of the CNET link, which is a bundleware link. You can use the MajorGeeks link but I prefer the small third link just below the MajorGeeks link. This third link downloads a portable version from the developer. This is a 2.68 MB EXE file that can be run from any convenient location. All current versions of Windows, 32- and 64-bit, are said to be supported. There is no disk repair function in the program.
The interface to Macrorit Disk Scanner is straightforward and an example is shown in the graphic below. A scan will show healthy disk sectors in green and bad ones in red. A feature of the program is that it can scan a wide variety of storage devices. According to the developer, the following devices are supported - DE HDD, SATA HDD, SCSI HDD, FireWire HDD, SSD, USB HDD, External HDD, Hardware RAID, Floppy drive, USB flash drive, Compact flash card, Secure Digital card, Memory card/Memory stick, Micro card, Zip drive, IPod.
Although this utility is said to be faster than Windows Check Disk, a large drive of several terabytes is still going to take some hours for a complete scan. An unattended scan can be set to automatically shut down the computer when scanning is complete. Another feature of the program is the ability to only scan specified areas, saving some time. The program saves scan reports to a log file on the system for future reference.
If you need to keep track of the health of a lot of storage devices, this free utility could be something worth considering.
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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.
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