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Using Seagate SeaTools Hard Drive Diagnostics Utility

written by: NormDickinson•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 9/20/2010

Hard drive testing is easy with the latest version of SeaTools for Windows from Seagate, a utility that allows advanced diagnostics to be run on internal and external hard drives from most manufacturers from a simple Windows interface. Also included in the free download is a bootable DOS CD image.

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    SeaTools for Windows

    SeaTools for Windows is a free download available from that offers a variety of diagnostic options for internal and external Seagate and Maxtor hard drives as well as drives from other manufacturers. A full range of tests are provided, most of which are easily accessible from the main menu. Bad sector repair is offered on external drives using the Windows version of the software, and an image file included in the installation allows a DOS boot disc to be created. SeaTools for DOS allows the repair of bad sectors on internal drives and is useful when problems prevent a computer from booting into Windows.

    This simple utility scans the system for internal and external hard drives and provides an intuitive list of available drives when it loads. To check the status of a listed drive, simply check the box to select it, and click on Basic Tests from the menu and choose one of the available tests. The drive information utility displays a surprising amount of data, including the model and serial number of the selected drive, the firmware version, and the number of hours the drive has been in operation.

    Tests can be run on multiple drives simultaneously, and different drives can be running different tests at the same time. Most tests are completely data safe with the exception of the bad sector repair option of the Long Generic test and similar bad sector repair settings in the DOS version of the software.

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    Seagate External Hard Drive

    Seagate FreeAgent 1.5 TB USB External Hard Drive
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    Seagate Hard Drive Diagnostics and Testing

    The S.M.A.R.T. check does a basic operational self-test of the drive, while the Short Drive Self-Test performs a more thorough diagnostic routine, sufficient for most needs. The Short Generic test performs an outer scan, an inner scan, and a random read scan of the drive and provides a good assessment of drive health in a short amount of time.

    The Long Drive Self-Test and Long Generic test both live up to their name, taking over three hours to run on large drives, while reading every sector on the drive. The Long Generic test has the option of repairing bad sectors on external USB hard drives, and will report a failed test if a sector is found bad and cannot be repaired. Be sure to back up any data on the drive prior to running the repair option.

    There is a System Tools menu to provide easy access to various Windows utilities that check the file system and other issues that may affect system performance but are not related to a hardware failure of the hard drive. Help is available for the software and a log viewer utility is also found under the help menu. Advanced test options are available for certain drive types such as SCSI and SAS interfaces. These advanced tests and options, including format and firmware download, are not recommended for desktop system users and should be left for the professionals to avoid potential data loss.