HD Tune Pro 4.5
HD Tune is a hard disk utility that can be used to measure the drive's performance, scan for errors, check the health status (S.M.A.R.T.), monitor the hard drive temperature, and other useful functions.
HD Tune Pro is a hard disk utility with several main functions:
Basically, if you want to know the health of your hard drive, this is the tool to use. By monitoring the temperature of the drive, particularly on a laptop, you can prevent the drive from overheating, which can be fatal to your data.
HD Tune Product Overview
Several years ago I bought an outrageously expensive but powerful IBM ThinkPad, with a P4 processor that generated tons of heat. What I didn't know at the time was that there was a fault on the motherboard that caused the cooling fan to work much less than it should have. The result: within 7 days of using the machine, the hard drive overheated and died, along with all the data. Fortunately I still had backups. Even purchasing Spinrite didn't help, because sections of the drive had already lost their magnetic signal. IBM dutifully replaced the drive, but didn't recognise the heat problem until the replacement drive started playing up 18 months later. By that time it was too expensive to fix, so I retired the laptop to life as a test server after only 18 months of use. What a lemon!
Had I known about HD Tune at the time, all this drama could have been avoided, because it would have told me that the drive was running too hot the moment it happened. I have subsequently installed it on all my laptops, and not had any problems with overheated drives. Except one: my wife's HP laptop where the temperature and S.M.A.R.T. information is blocked from access. HD Tune (and other similar programs) can't see the temperature data, and SpinRite won't work on the drive either. So we use an extra cooling fan, which has helped, but not entirely.
Error Scan and Speed Map
The "Error Scan" is available in the free version, but the "Speed Map" is new to version 4.5, and is really useful. I find I can use both to do a test on the health of the hard drive while I'm using the drive so it doesn't waste time. While it is not as thorough as SpinRite's "Maintenance Mode" it may still help to avoid data loss when sectors go bad by alerting the drive controller to potential problems simply by reading the data.
Hard Drive Benchmark and other Information
Benchmarks can tell you a lot about your hardware even if you aren't comparing the results with other benchmarks from other users. Similarly the "Info" and "Health" tabs provide a lot of HDD data, not all of which I understand, but it's interesting to look at anyway.
The real value of these benchmarks and figures is when you are comparing machines and trying to figure out why one machine is sluggish and the other is fast. If the hard drive performance is radically different, you have an explanation. If they are similar, then you can look elsewhere for the source of the problem, such as a motherboard issue or installed software.
I have ignored some of the other tests and the ability to wipe out the data on the entire hard drive because these are mostly useful to PC technicians. I can, however, recommend this product from a software quality point of view. The program works. It doesn't use up lots of resources, and I just set it to load as a minimised icon in my task tray, ready to warn me if the drive gets too hot.
If you own a laptop you absolutely must install this program, and if your laptop is blocking access to the temperature information, be sure to run the Error Scan every month to look for hard drive issues before they become problems. I have a reminder set to run the error scan every quarter on my own laptop.
Other reviews of this product:
See the Spinrite review page for information on hard drive data recovery.