Hard Drive Testing (free tools)

Think your hard drive might be going bad?

There are many reasons you might think your Thinkpad’s hard drive is going bad. You may be experiencing bluescreens, the hard drive may be noisy, or the operating system will no longer boot. Whatever the reason, let’s go through some tests you can run on the hard drive to help determine if it is a hardware issue.

If you are unable to even boot to the hard drive we should make sure the Thinkpad sees it in the BIOS.
– Turn on the computer and press F1 to enter the BIOS
– Select ‘Startup’ from the menu and then ‘Boot’
The list should show the installed drive. If not, the computer is not recognizing the drive and you will not be able to run tests. Reseat the drive and check again to see if it has been recognized in the BIOS. If it still is not seen then this is a good indication the drive is dead. You should look at the connector pins on the drive to make sure they are all straight and not bent or otherwise damaged.

Tests to run on a drive that is recognized in the BIOS.
– PC Doctor – You can download this application and boot from cd. Allows you to test the whole Thinkpad not just the hard drive.
http://support.lenovo.com/en_BD/downloads/detail.page?LegacyDocID=MIGR-69537

-PC Doctor is no longer available. The replacement is Lenovo Diagnostic Solutions which can be found here.

– Lenovo Hard Drive Quick Test – Runs from Windows

http://support.lenovo.com/en_BD/downloads/detail.page?&LegacyDocID=MIGR-70578

-Dive Fitness Test – For Hitachi/IBM hard drives
https://www1.hgst.com/hdd/support/download.htm

I should note that the T60 and above Thinkpad have a built in drive diagnostic program in the BIOS. You access this program by pressing the blue ThinkVantage button right after you turn on your computer. Then select the startup utility and finally select HDD diagnostic program.

TIP:
Freeze It..
If your having difficulty accessing the hard drive you can try freezing it.. This sometimes works for drives that are on their way out and are intermittent. Wrap the drive in an anti-static bag then place it in the freezer for a few hours. Then reinstall the drive in the machine and quickly try to recover and backup any data you need. I’ve done this several times leaving the drive in the freezer for as little as 45 minutes and was able to recover data. It does not always work however, sometimes a hard drive is just too far gone, but it’s worth a try if you’re out of options.

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