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PCNet Software Pick - DriveSitter - Monitor and analysis of your hard drive

Let's talk about hard drives. They spin around the whole time your machine is powered up probably going 7,200 revolutions per minute (depending on your drive). It's not if it's going to fail, it's when.

Several years ago dish drive manufacturers' came up with a way to almost peek inside of a hard drive case with drive "Self Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology" or SMART. The purpose of SMART was to watch the hard drive and monitor certain hard drive activities. A decrease in certain conditions is probably predictive of a pending drive failure.

And it mostly works. It's likely that your motherboard has a feature that will read the SMART info at boot time and alert you if the drive is failing. I've found this to be a poor way to get information as by the time the motherboard picks up on the information the drive is most likely gone. Plus the BIOS SMART isn't dynamic; it can only check stuff at boot time and it doesn't read temperature at all.

Enter the resident programs that monitor SMART information and alerts you when a drive is starting to fail. Further the programs can also monitor temperature which can be a critical element in the life of a disk drive.

I've looked at a bunch of SMART monitoring programs and by far the top of the heap is DriveSitter.

It loads at startup and sits in the system tray reporting the temperature of the drives. Should a condition become critical it will pop up a message telling you so. Furthermore you can have it send an email or even shut down, suspect or hibernate if a critical condition is reached. During my test I had it set to alarm if the temperature reached a very low level (a level I know one of my hotter drive normally reaches). Sure enough DriveSitter shut down the computer as instructed and emailed me.

It's possible to call the program up from the system tray at any time resulting in a window that gives you a ton of information:

All of this is good info but the gold is the "fitness" level in the top line of data. When you start to see that go down it's time to keep a very careful eye on any data on the drive.

In addition there's a "TEC Date". TEC stands for "Threshold Exceeded Condition" which basically says that "if the trend for this metric continues your hard drive will fail on mm/dd/yy". It's not infallible and no program can really see into the future but based on a trend it's often very good at predicting when a drive will totally fail. Like a good statistical analysis program DriveSitter can draw on past experiences and computer inference statistics to estimate the probably TEC date with an extremely low rate of false alarms.

There are also a load of other goodies including a very through hard drive test that will really "exercise" the drive and report any problems the SMART technology detects. You can even pull up drive information that includes the serial number of the drive as well as other things.

What makes DriveSitter stand out is it's accuracy. While SMART is a standard various vendors have played somewhat fast and loose with it; for instance vendor A may assign a value of 100 to the Raw Read Error Rate as being the best. Another vendor will assign a value of 200. If the vendor uses 100 as representing the best condition yet the monitoring program uses 200 the software will report that condition as being close to failing.

DriveSitter was the only program I tested that consistently "knew" what the correct value was and correctly reported the true state of the drive.

There are several unique licensing options but the basic license will run you $24.95. But don't take my word for it, check out the 2.65Mb trail version (30 days, fully functional) download and see for yourself, think you'll appreciate software that can predict the future.



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