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8 Best Free and Open Source 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.

Here’s our verdict captured in a legendary LinuxLinks-style ratings chart. Only free and open source software is eligible for inclusion.

Ratings chart for the best free and open source hard disk utilities

Click the links in the table below to learn more about each utility.

Handy Hard Disk Utilities
NVMe-CLINVM-Express user space tooling
SmartmontoolsControl and monitor storage systems using S.M.A.R.T.
openSeaChestPerform various operations on SATA, SAS, NVMe, and USB storage devices
GSmartControlGraphical user interface for smartctl
hdparmTune hard disk parameters for high performance
sg3_utilsUtilities that send SCSI commands to devices
sdparmAccesses SCSI device parameters
Bonnie++Toolkit for testing hard drive and file system performance

This article has been revamped in line with our recent announcement.

Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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8 months ago

Thanks for the roundup.