Testing Functionality of Old Hard Drives

I have gone through my shelved laptops and PCs to recycle any of them that are not worth keeping, and have removed the HDDs, RAM, LCD panels, ect… Curious as to the most effective way to check HDD functionality. I am aware of the tools in Windows, but wondering if there are more reliable methods available. Thanks in advance.

SMART is platform agnostic. Run a long test and check the results.

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I’m kinda mean to hardware. What I like to do is if I have to test a hard drive I zero it out completely on a mac (because disk util has some cool stuff built in), then, I’ll hook it up to a linux box and DD one of the /dev partitions to it thats just ones… I forget what its called… Or maybe I stuff it with iso’s and write /dev/null to it? Either way I put a timer on it and do this process a couple times to see if the time to write, write over in 0’s, and rewrite the data is any different in 2 or 3 attempts.

I don’t do this often, and mostly do it on Velociraptors and other SAS / real SCSI drives that I am never going to have money to buy.

And yes its time consuming, but I am more scientific in my processes.

You could also just check SMART scans.

Edit: By the way, this sorta test is purely for the laser. If the drive spins and reads, more than likely the controller is fine. 90% of the time the controller is fine. What I always have problems with is the laser burning out. So if this sorta stress test can show that within a margin of error, 5-25 seconds if the machine is going to have a hiccup (5-10 on average), that it can write, overwrite, and write again, then do the whole process over, and all the times are correct, then a drive that is going to be used in a critical role for me has proven itself good and I don’t have to depend on a diagnostic test that, before, has failed me. I have drives from 1992 still in operation, as a frame of reference.

Learn to trust toolkits kids don’t end up like me.

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interestingly enough, SMART data can be falsified, I’ve bought several discount refurbs with fake lifetime data.

SMART data can be reset with certain drives via the debug/controller chipset flashing connector, I remember reading about it.

Most drive makers have their own Tools for running tests & formatting–3rd party tools such as HDDScan is useful to find out if the drive has degraded sectors based on seek times. CrystalDisk & Speccy are the most useful if you want to check the Power-On-Hours and compare it to LBA read/written as heavy usage drives(scratch disks) tend to wear out at 5yrs due to the amount of sustained usage–longest I’ve ever ran a drive continuously was 12yrs. Desktop drives generally have long lives as long as there isn’t any vibration from the case mounting, notebook/portable drives tend to face movement/vibration and are more prone to fail based on the usage environment.

In my experience SMART isn’t always smart/useful, I had a PATA Toshiba drive(12" PowerBook G4) drop dead after four years without any SMART warnings until it failed(was running a 3rd party program SMARTMonitor) and the drive was formatted with zeros twice. With an SATA drive(WD 500GB AAKS) the drive slowly got noisy in terms of clicking before SMART status indicated a warning–thankfully I was within the warranty period.

run a SMART check and see what comes up with the self reporting, then surface check them.
If to many errors, or warnings in either, just scrap them. For storage you really dont want some which is “somewhat working”.
DD really is mostly to check the read/write speed, and is pretty much un-useable in your usecase.

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