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Test hard drive: Scan and identify any errors in Windows

Your hard drive is not working correctly, or do you just want to know about its condition? In this guide, we will show you how do you easily test your hard drive or SSD for any errors and protect yourself from data loss.

test hard drive

Even on modern Windows computers, errors can occur on the hard drive. And these errors may manifest themselves in the unexplainable behavior of the computer. That’s why you should test your hard drive regularly.

Test hard drive error on Windows

  • Start Windows Explorer and open the This PC branch in the left navigation bar (in older Windows versions, the entry was called computer). Click on Start and then on the computer.
  • Right-click on the hard drive icon or drive C: and select Properties.
Right-click on the hard drive icon or drive C
  • This is followed by a click on the Tools tab.
  • Then click on the Check button or Check now in earlier Windows versions.
click on the Check button
  • If Windows hasn’t noticed a problem with the hard drive so far, it will let you know. To proceed anyway, press the Scan Now link.
press the Scan Now link
  • Now the scan will start, and a window will inform you about the progress.

If there are any problems, Windows will offer you a repair. How to perform the repair with Windows 7 can be found later in this post.

Test hard drive with the command prompt

“Chckdsk” can also be started from the command prompt. This has the advantage that the user can also commission the repair of any errors found at the same time.

  • Type “cmd” in the search bar to bring up the command prompt.
  • Hold down the Ctrl and Shift keys while clicking on the application, or click on Run as administrator. This will launch it with administrator privileges. This must first be confirmed with “Yes.”
Test hard drive with the command prompt
  • To check drive “C:” enter this command: “chkdsk C:” If another drive is to be examined, change the drive letter accordingly.
To check drive C: enter this command: chkdsk C

The two additional parameters “chkdsk C: /f /r” also initiate a repair. Bad sectors are detected, and readable data is recovered.

Before the scan, make sure that any process is not currently using the drive; otherwise, an error message will appear. This is because the disk being scanned is locked during analysis and repair until the process is complete.

Windows may offer to perform a scan automatically at the next reboot if the disk is still in use. This is confirmed with “Y” for “Yes” and the Enter key if necessary.

Otherwise, a hard disk scan started via a command prompt can be ended prematurely during operation with the key combination “Ctrl + C.” However, it is advisable to carry out a complete hard disk check at regular intervals.

Test hard disk with free program HDD Scan

An external hard drive, where a built-in adapter mediates between the connection of the hard disk and the USB interface, is not so well verifiable with the normal means of Windows.

However, thanks to the free tool HDD Scan, you can get an initial overview or perform a detailed test even with these data storage devices.

How to use HDDScan to test hard drive

The program does not need to be installed but consists only of a ZIP archive that you unpack somewhere on your hard drive. To start, run the included HDDScan.exe.

Select the desired hard disk in the list under Select Drive and click the round blue button. A window with several options will open. For a readability check, first select Surface Tests.

Another window appears for the details of the test

The Read Test tries to read all data blocks. If your disk has completed it successfully, all data is still in good shape.

Verify Test also performs a pure read test. However, the program only checks whether the data arrives in the read buffer of the hard disk without errors. A possible problem with the adapter interface or the cabling is not detected.

If you simply want to delete all existing data, select Erase.

Click on Add Test to start the test. A new line will then appear in the task window. To view details of a task, double click on the respective line.

To stop, right-click on the entry and select Stop Task.

Evaluate access times graphically

The “Butterfly Test” is interesting. The program reads all sectors but alternately reads data blocks on the inside and outside and then ends in the middle of the data area. You can visually display the access times measured in the process by double-clicking on the task list entry at the bottom.

There is no even distribution in the image below, but repeated outliers with particularly long access times indicate an incipient problem with the mechanics.

Read SMART data storage

Every modern hard disk keeps an internal list of values in which data about the usage, occurred errors, or the current temperature is stored.

After selecting the hard disk, HDD Scan reads out this data and displays it in a list if you click the S.M.A.R.T. button.

However, the program leaves the interpretation of the values to you. So you first have to figure out how to evaluate the data.

Use these free programs to test your hard drive

Is your hard drive working too slowly or with errors? Over the years, bad sectors or severe fragmentation, among other things, can cause your hard drive to stop working correctly. We have selected five free programs for you, with which you can always check the health of your SSD or HDD data carrier on your Windows, Linux, or Mac computer and get an indication of whether it is time for the last backup or a new hard disk. To help you do the former easily, we also offer you an ultimate guide to backing up your data in our separate article.

Suitable software to test hard drive for any errors:

  • CrystalDiskinfo
  • EaseUS Partition Master
  • SSDLife Pro
  • Smartmontools
  • TestDisk

In addition to our software recommendations, we offer you numerous tutorials to guide you step by step through the problem solutions. It’s also worth taking a look at our download archive, where you can always download new programs and updates for free.

Windows 7: Repair hard disk

Fortunately, repairing the hard drive is not as often necessary as it was in the days of the old FAT file system of the early Windows versions.

If there are ever problems with data, it may be worthwhile to start a repair run. Windows 7 has the necessary program on board.

To start the repair, click on the Start menu and then the computer. Then right-click on the drive whose data structure you want to check and repair.

Click on Properties – Tools.

Continue with Check now.

Activate the options Automatically correct file system errors and Search/recover bad sectors as required. If you only want to test the hard drive for errors, leave both boxes empty. However, it is usually recommended to at least correct errors automatically.

Then click Start. Depending on the size and the amount of data, the check may take several hours. During this time, the disk is not accessible. Otherwise, you can continue working on the computer.

Note: If you want to check the drive on which Windows 7 is installed, it is necessary to restart the system. This is when the check will take place. In this case, you will not be able to continue working on the computer. It is best to postpone such a check until the end of the day – then the computer will have enough time to do its work.

If all these tips fail, a backup and reformatting of the disk may help.

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