Monitor your Hard Drive’s Health with Acronis Drive Monitor

Are you worried that your computer’s hard drive could die without any warning?  Here’s how you can keep tabs on it and get the first warning signs of potential problems before you actually lose your critical data.

Hard drive failures are one of the most common ways people lose important data from their computers.  As more of our memories and important documents are stored digitally, a hard drive failure can mean the loss of years of work.  Acronis Drive Monitor helps you avert these disasters by warning you at the first signs your hard drive may be having trouble.  It monitors many indicators, including heat, read/write errors, total lifespan, and more. It then notifies you via a taskbar popup or email that problems have been detected.  This early warning lets you know ahead of time that you may need to purchase a new hard drive and migrate your data before it’s too late.

Getting Started

Head over to the Acronis site to download Drive Monitor (link below).  You’ll need to enter your name and email, and then you can download this free tool.

sshot-2010-06-11-[15-30-00]

Also, note that the download page may ask if you want to include a trial of their for-pay backup program.  If you wish to simply install the Drive Monitor utility, click Continue without adding.

sshot-2010-06-11-[15-30-46]

Run the installer when the download is finished.  Follow the prompts and install as normal.

sshot-2010-06-11-[16-57-00]

Once it’s installed, you can quickly get an overview of your hard drives’ health.  Note that it shows 3 categories: Disk problems, Acronis backup, and Critical Events.  On our computer, we had Seagate DiskWizard, an image backup utility based on Acronis Backup, installed, and Acronis detected it.

sshot-2010-06-11-[17-00-26]

Drive Monitor stays running in your tray even when the application window is closed.  It will keep monitoring your hard drives, and will alert you if there’s a problem.

sshot-2010-06-11-[19-53-19]

Find Detailed Information About Your Hard Drives

Acronis’ simple interface lets you quickly see an overview of how the drives on your computer are performing.  If you’d like more information, click the link under the description.  Here we see that one of our drives have overheated, so click Show disks to get more information.

image

Now you can select each of your drives and see more information about them.  From the Disk overview tab that opens by default, we see that our drive is being monitored, has been running for a total of 368 days, and that it’s health is good.  However, it is running at 113F, which is over the recommended max of 107F.

 image

The S.M.A.R.T. parameters tab gives us more detailed information about our drive.  Most users wouldn’t know what an accepted value would be, so it also shows the status.  If the value is within the accepted parameters, it will report OK; otherwise, it will show that has a problem in this area.

One very interesting piece of information we can see is the total number of Power-On Hours, Start/Stop Count, and Power Cycle Count.  These could be useful indicators to check if you’re considering purchasing a second hand computer.  Simply load this program, and you’ll get a better view of how long it’s been in use.

image

Finally, the Events tab shows each time the program gave a warning.  We can see that our drive, which had been acting flaky already, is routinely overheating even when our other hard drive was running in normal temperature ranges.

image

Monitor Acronis Backups And Critical Errors

In addition to monitoring critical stats of your hard drives, Acronis Drive Monitor also keeps up with the status of your backup software and critical events reported by Windows.  You can access these from the front page, or via the links on the left hand sidebar.  If you have any edition of any Acronis Backup product installed, it will show that it was detected.  Note that it can only monitor the backup status of the newest versions of Acronis Backup and True Image.

image

If no Acronis backup software was installed, it will show a warning that the drive may be unprotected and will give you a link to download Acronis backup software.

sshot-2010-06-14-[14-57-49] 

If you have another backup utility installed that you wish to monitor yourself, click Configure backup monitoring, and then disable monitoring on the drives you’re monitoring yourself.

image

Finally, you can view any detected Critical events from the Critical events tab on the left.

image

Get Emailed When There’s a Problem

One of Drive Monitor’s best features is the ability to send you an email whenever there’s a problem.  Since this program can run on any version of Windows, including the Server and Home Server editions, you can use this feature to stay on top of your hard drives’ health even when you’re not nearby.  To set this up, click Options in the top left corner.

image

Select Alerts on the left, and then click the Change settings link to setup your email account.

sshot-2010-06-11-[19-53-54]

Enter the email address which you wish to receive alerts, and a name for the program.  Then, enter the outgoing mail server settings for your email.  If you have a Gmail account, enter the following information:

Outgoing mail server (SMTP): smtp.gmail.com
Port: 587
Username and Password: Your gmail address and password

Check the Use encryption box, and then select TLS from the encryption options.

 sshot-2010-06-11-[19-57-14]

It will now send a test message to your email account, so check and make sure it sent ok.

sshot-2010-06-11-[19-58-07]

Now you can choose to have the program automatically email you when warnings and critical alerts appear, and also to have it send regular disk status reports.

image 

Conclusion

Whether you’ve got a brand new hard drive or one that’s seen better days, knowing the real health of your it is one of the best ways to be prepared before disaster strikes.  It’s no substitute for regular backups, but can help you avert problems.  Acronis Drive Monitor is a nice tool for this, and although we wish it wasn’t so centered around their backup offerings, we still found it a nice tool.

Link

Download Acronis Drive Monitor (registration required)

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!