Disk watcher

Keep a close eye on all your disk drives with this free utility.

Windows' built-in system tools are geared toward casual users and often lack the power or features needed to keep up with the latest hardware. Developers have stepped into the breach with tools such as Hard Disk Sentinel, a free utility for monitoring and analyzing the performance of terabyte-capacity hard-disk drives (HDDs) as well as the latest and fastest solid-state drives (SSDs). With a number of monitoring and reporting options, it can alert you to trouble with your critical storage components before failure becomes an option.

Hard Disk Sentinel's compact interface is a busy affair, packed tight with colorful status and temperature displays, but in fact it's quite efficiently configured, once the eyes sort it all out. One of the biggest complaints we've had about disk utilities is the way they tend to offer all-or-nothing display options; you can view data for each physical disk or each partition, but not both. Hard Disk Sentinel solves this problem with two displays in the left-hand navigation pane; one displays each actual, separate disk drive with its health status and temperature, and the other displays disk partitions, their capacities, and free space. Clicking on any entry in the navigation pane calls up more detailed data in the main display; for example, the tabbed disk display offers summaries, detailed temperature and SMART data, a trouble log, graphic disk performance displays, and testing features. It clearly differentiated our test machine's three HDDs, including a RAID 1 array, single external HDD, and seven partitions, with complete data on each.

If you have multiple HDDs, SSDs, or a combination of the two types; RAID arrays; external hard drives or disk enclosures; mobile-disk racks or portable HDDs; servers or other applications with high disk capacities; or quantities of high-value data, it just makes sense to keep close watch on it all. Hard Disk Sentinel is just the sort of program we recommend for the job.

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