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Handy Hard Disk Utilities for System Tweakers

The consequences of losing data can be disastrous for any individual or organisation. The loss of a single hard disk may have huge repercussions; the loss of data with sentimental or financial value. Making file backups is an essential activity for all users, yet many users do not take adequate steps to protect their data. Whether a computer is being used in a corporate environment, or for private use, the machine’s hard disk may fail.

Not to be used as an alternative to making regular backups, S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) is a monitoring system for computer hard disk drives to detect and report on indicators of reliability, keeping data on how the hard disk is performing with the hope of being able to detect failures. All hard disks will eventually fail, probably without any obvious signs of impending failure. You may therefore be interested in keeping a watchful eye on your hard disk by viewing the data generated by SMART, in the hope of anticipating failures.

This article identifies the finest open source tools to diagnose the health of a hard disk. We also look at software that can help improve the performance of a hard disk. We have written extensively in the past of ways to improve the performance of a system. These articles included ways to boot a system faster, and removing the detritus from a system. Tweaking settings of a hard disk is another way of improving system performance.

Now, let’s explore the 6 hard disk tools at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, together with links to relevant resources and reviews.

Handy Hard Disk Utilities
GSmartControlGraphical user interface for smartctl
GNOME DisksManage and configure disk drives and media
SmartmontoolsControl and monitor storage systems using S.M.A.R.T.
GPartedGNOME partition editor
Bonnie++Toolkit for testing hard drive and file system performance
hdparmTune hard disk parameters for high performance
Return to our complete collection of recommended free and open source software including our latest additions.
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