There are many free hard drive testing programs available to help you determine what, if anything, is wrong when you suspect there may be a problem with a hard drive.
Tools like Windows Error Checking and the chkdsk command are included in your Windows-based operating system already, but some others, like those below, are available from hard drive manufacturers and other developers.
Depending on the issue, you may need to replace your hard drive if it fails some part of one of these tests.
Many excellent commercial hard drive repair software programs are available as well. Be sure to first try the free options below before paying for any program!
Works from both inside and outside of Windows
SeaTools for DOS works on any operating system
SeaTools for Windows lets you test a hard drive from any manufacturer
SeaTools for DOS can be hard to use and install
SeaTools for Windows runs on Windows only
SeaTools for DOS can deal with only 100 errors before restarting
SeaTools for DOS might not work well with RAID controllers
Seagate SeaTools is free hard drive testing software that comes in two forms for home users:
SeaTools Bootable and SeaTools for DOS support Seagate or Maxtor drives and run independent of your operating system on their own USB drive or CD, respectively.
SeaTools for Windows installs on your Windows system. Use it to perform basic and advanced testing of any kind of drive—internal or external—from any manufacturer.
For those looking for SeaTools Desktop, SeaTools Online, or Maxtor's PowerMax software, please note that the two tools above have replaced all three. Seagate now owns the Maxtor brand.
Seagate's SeaTools programs are excellent programs. They are used to test hard drives by professional computer services, but are easy enough for anyone to use.
The Windows version of SeaTools should work with Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP.
Works with all hard drives
No installation need (portable)
Easy to use
Includes a SMART test
Runs on all modern versions of Windows
Runs on Windows operating systems only
Doesn't include help docs or tips for how to use the different options
Can't install the program to your computer (it runs as a portable program automatically)
HDDScan is a free hard drive testing program for all types of drives, no matter the manufacturer. It includes a SMART test and a surface test.
The program is easy to use, is completely portable, supports almost all drive interfaces, and seems to be regularly updated.
The official system requirements state that you need to be running at least Windows XP, so it should work with Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, and Vista, including Windows Server 2003.
Keeps track of SMART attributes to predict hard drive failure
Can be configured to email you when certain events take place
Well-organized and easy-to-use interface
Small download size
Doesn't scan SCSI or hardware RAIDs
Free for home/personal use only, not commercial/business
DiskCheckup is a free hard drive tester that should work with most hard drives.
SMART info like reading error rate, spin-up time, seek error rate, and temperature is displayed, as well as short and extended disk tests.
Details in the SMART section can be configured to send an email or display a notification when their attributes exceed the manufacturer's recommended threshold.
Hard drives that have a SCSI or hardware RAID connection are not supported and can not be detected by DiskCheckup.
DiskCheckup should work fine with Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP, plus Windows Server 2008 and 2003.
Choose from three different tests
Works on Windows, Linux, and macOS
Lets you view the drive's SMART attributes
A portable version is available
Doesn't support every USB and RAID device
When exporting information, it includes everything, not just a specific result you want to save
GSmartControl can run various hard drive tests with detailed results and give an overall health assessment of a drive.
View and save SMART attribute values like the power cycle count, multi-zone error rate, calibration retry count, and many others.
GSmartControl runs three self-tests to find drive faults: Short Self-test takes around 2 minutes to complete and is used to detect a completely damaged hard drive, Extended Self-test takes 70 minutes to finish and examines the entire surface of a hard drive to find faults, and Conveyance Self-test is a 5-minute test that's supposed to find damages that occurred during the transporting of a drive.
This program can be downloaded for Windows as a portable program or as a regular program with a normal installer. The latest version works with Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, and Vista, but there's an outdated edition you can get for older Windows versions. It's also available for Linux and Mac operating systems, as well as included in a couple of LiveCD/LiveUSB programs.
Very easy to use
There are two HDD testing functions
An option lets you perform a deep test for better results
Lets you test more than one drive consecutively
SMART attributes can be viewed
Also lets you erase a hard drive
Can't scan the primary hard drive where Windows is installed
No tutorials, instructions, or tips are included in the program
Unable to change where the LOG file is saved
Works on Windows operating systems only
Last updated in 2008
Windows Drive Fitness Test is free hard drive diagnostic software available for use on most drives available today.
The download link below installs the Windows Drive Fitness Test software to the Windows OS, but you can't use the program to scan the drive that has Windows installed. Only USB and other internal hard drives can be scanned with Windows Drive Fitness Test.
Install WinDFT to Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP.
Tests hard drives regardless of the OS that's installed
Not too difficult to use
Lets you erase data from the drive, too
Tests Samsung HDDs only
Isn't as easy to install as a desktop-based program
You have to have access to a working computer in order to set up the program
The interface is completely text (no buttons you can click)
Samsung HUTIL is a free hard drive diagnostic utility for Samsung hard drives. HUTIL is sometimes called ES-Tool.
Samsung's HUTIL tool is available as an ISO image for burning to a CD or USB drive. This feature makes HUTIL operating system independent and a better testing tool, in general, than those designed for use within Windows. It's also possible to run HUTIL from a bootable floppy disk.
Because Samsung HUTIL is a bootable program, you'll need a working hard drive and OS to burn it to a disc or USB device.
HUTIL will only test Samsung hard drives. HUTIL will load and find your non-Samsung drive but you will not be able to run any diagnostics on the drive.
Runs from within Windows
Lets you boot to the program if you don't have Windows (or have no OS installed)
The Windows version is easy to use
Also shows basic information about the drives
Scans Western Digital hard drives only
The DOS program isn't as easy to set up as the Windows version
Using the DOS program might be harder than its Windows counterpart
Western Digital Dashboard is free hard drive testing software for Windows, and Data Lifeguard Diagnostics is a bootable ISO file. These utilities let you run a number of hard drive tests.
The DOS version can run regardless of the OS that's installed, while the Windows edition installs on Windows 11 and Windows 10.
Runs a stress test by writing data to the drive
Tests all hard drives, internal and external, regardless of the OS or file system
Lets you tweak lots of settings
Really easy to use and understand
Runs in portable mode
No option to install it to your computer
Officially supports up to Windows XP only
No longer gets updated with improvements or new features
Bart's Stuff Test is a free, Windows-based hard drive stress test.
There aren't a lot of options in this program, and it's not as thorough as some other tests on this list. All things considered, though, it is a decent addition to your hard drive testing arsenal, especially if you're having problems testing with an ISO based tool above but want something besides the Windows default tool.
It's said to work only with Windows XP through Windows 95. However, we tested the latest version in Windows 10 and Windows 8 without any errors. The link below is to an archived version, since the developer's website no longer hosts the download.
One of the easiest hard drive testing apps to use
Provides two hard drive testing functions
Runs from within Windows, but there's also a floppy version if you don't have Windows
Tests Fujitsu hard drives only
The bootable program runs from a floppy disk only (not a disc or flash drive)
The floppy program isn't as easy to install and use as the Windows version
The desktop program runs on Windows only
Fujitsu Diagnostic Tool is a free hard drive testing tool designed for Fujitsu hard drives.
The Fujitsu Diagnostic Tool is available in both a Windows version and an operating system independent, bootable DOS version. However, the bootable version is designed for floppy disks—an image that works with a CD or USB drive is not available.
Two tests are available with Fujitsu Diagnostic Tool, a "Quick Test" (about three minutes) and a "Comprehensive Test" (time will vary based on hard drive size).
The Windows version is said to work with Windows 8, 7, Vista, and XP. It might also run just fine in Windows 11 and Windows 10.
Fujitsu Diagnostic Tool will perform hard drive tests on Fujitsu drives only. If you have any other make of hard drive, try one of the manufacturer independent tests listed toward the beginning of this list.
Tests several types of storage devices
Includes helpful tests
Information can be saved to a screenshot and copied to the clipboard
The program isn't confusing to use
Can't export results to a text file like most programs support
Officially works on up to Windows 7 only, not newer Windows OSs
Only home/personal use is allowed
No update since 2008
HD Tune is a Windows-based hard driver tester that works with any internal or external hard drive, SSD, or memory card.
You can run a benchmark read test with HD Tune, check the health status with Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology, and run an error scan.
Only Windows 7, Vista, XP, and 2000 are said to be the only supported operating systems, but we used HD Tune in Windows 10 and Windows 8 without any issues.
Scan results can be emailed to you automatically
Runs a surface scan to check for errors
Shows SMART attributes
Checks errors on both internal and external hard drives
Scan results show useful information
Hasn't been updated in a long time (the last official supported OS is Windows 7)
Works on Windows computers only
Doesn't include as many features as most other hard drive testers
Free EASIS Drive Check is a hard drive tester that incorporates two main testing utilities—a sector test and a SMART value reader.
The SMART test lists more than 40 values about a hard drive, while the sector test checks the surface of the media for reading errors.
The report of either test can be read straight from the program when complete, configured to be sent to you by email or printed off.
Free EASIS Drive Check is said to work with Windows 2000 through Windows 7, but we successfully tested it in Windows 10 and 8 as well.
No download necessary
Also tries to fix any hard drive errors
Runs on Windows only
Lacks features found in other free hard drive testing software
Error Checking, sometimes referred to as scandisk, is a hard drive testing tool that comes with Microsoft Windows that can scan your hard drive in search of a wide range of errors and correct many of them.
It's built into all modern versions of Windows.
Great visuals that are easy to understand
Doesn't have to be installed
Works on several Windows operating systems
Excludes features found only in the paid versions
Free only for personal/home use
Scans just one drive at a time
Includes external links you might accidentally click
Macrorit Disk Scanner is a simple program that checks for bad sectors on a hard drive. It's easy to use, and you can start using it in no time since it's fully portable and doesn't need to be installed.
The majority of this screen is used as a visual representation of the progress of the scan and clearly indicates if there's damage.
The official list of operating systems that run this program include Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista, XP.
Checks any hard drive for bad sectors
Shows which files are affected by errors
Portable (no installation necessary)
Very clean interface that's not distracting or confusing to use
Doesn't support HFS (only NTFS and FAT file systems)
Ariolic Disk Scanner is similar to Macrorit Disk Scanner in that it's just a read-only scan of a drive to check for bad sectors. It has a minimal interface with only one button, and is easy to understand if any parts of the drive contain bad sectors.
The program is portable and just over 1 MB in size.
One thing that's different from Macrorit Disk Scanner is that Ariolic Disk Scanner lists the files where read errors occurred.
We tested Ariolic Disk Scanner in Windows 10 and XP only, but it should also work with other versions of Windows.