FW Editor: We can easily conclude that Hard Disk Sentinel is a complete application from all points of view. Can you tell us a few things about each package individually? (Professional, Enterprise, DOS, etc)
Hard Disk Sentinel: Our goal was to provide feature-rich and useful solution to protect users against data loss. This includes different Hard Disk Sentinel versions (standard and Professional) for Windows users: these software are designed to protect data in 24/7 mode by continuously monitoring disk parameters
(including but not limited to health, performance and temperature), alert upon any problems and allow time to take actions (backup important data) before catastrophic failure occurs.
Hardware support is extremely important so our main target is to detect hard disk and SSD information even with special hardware environments. This includes support and compatibility with wide range of disk controllers (including Intel/Areca/3ware/AMCC/LSI/Dell/HighPoint/NVidia/Silicon Image RAID controllers). Hard Disk Sentinel is unique in its support of both internal IDE/SATA/SCSI/SAS and external USB (including USB 3.0) and e-Sata hard disks and hard disk enclosures (see http://www.hdsentinel.com/compatibility.php for details).
We also kept in mind that the detected information can help the daily work of local or network administrators: the Enterprise version displays disk status information (and general system details) reported by individual clients in a centralised management console.
We are thinking about other possible situations, for example if the system is not bootable at all or had general errors. The bootable floppy/CD/pendrive Hard Disk Sentinel DOS can be handy to have a look on the disk status and manage disk features if it is not possible under Windows.
The Linux command-line version is also available to report disk information under various Linux systems.
FW Editor: Which are the main differences between these packages?
Hard Disk Sentinel: Windows versions has a graphical user interface which allows the access of all functions, settings and disk information quickly. Hard Disk Sentinel (standard version) offers basic data protection with the alerts upon various events, logs and basic disk tests. Hard Disk Sentinel Professional adds even more features to prevent data loss, including scheduled and Panic (on-problem) backups (to help against data loss caused by not only disk failure but also accidental erase or malware), intensive disk testing to diagnose hard disk drives and SSDs, reveal and fix any possible problems.
These features are available in the Enterprise version with the ability of remote access and management: from the Enterprise console the administrator have access to disk status information, can remotely run projects, start disk tests and so.
The DOS and Linux versions allow quick use from command line. There are plans to add further features and add a graphical interface for both of them, especially for the Linux version.
More information and product comparison is available at: http://www.hdsentinel.com/products.php
FW Editor: One of the most important Hard Disk Sentinel feature is the S.M.A.R.T. analysis. Which S.M.A.R.T parameters are the most representative ones?
Hard Disk Sentinel: The most important attributes are:
5 Reallocated Sectors Count, 198 Uncorrectable Sector Count: these indicate the number of sectors no longer used by the hard disk, called as "bad sectors". All further disk read and writes are redirected to the spare area so these setors do not make further troubles, but increasing count of such sectors can lead to disk failures (clicking on the "?" button next to the text description give further information).
197 Current Pending Sector Count: sectors which were marked as "weak" because of a previous problem during write of the particular sectors. These may be fixed or they may be reallocated at a later time. The best way to diagnose and fix them is to use the Surface tests from the Disk menu in Hard Disk Sentinel Professional (see below).
10 Spin Retry Count: errors occured during spin up of the disk. Possible cause is weak power supply but in general the issue is related to stuck spindle or disk bearing which may lead that one day the disk can't spin up any longer. This is very serious, however hard to detect (without Hard Disk Sentinel) because there are no signs if the drive is actively working (no noises, no stops or slowdowns, etc.)
194 Disk Temperature: reports the disk operational temperature. In laptops, crowded cases, small external enclosures temperatures can rise quickly and this could be disastrous for the hard disk.
There are lots of other attributes with very serious meanings which are specific for a particular manufacturer, device model/family or even device type. Lots of special attributes are available for SSDs also which indicate the health levels (for example 231 SSD life left).
Hard Disk Sentinel of course monitors all S.M.A.R.T. attributes and report even small problem detected with any of them (not only the listed ones). The attributes and the detected problems affect the displayed health value and Hard Disk Sentinel explain the result in the text description.
FW Editor: It is possible to use Hard Disk Sentinel to detect HDD problems inside a local area network? This option can prove to be extremely useful for a network administrator.
Hard Disk Sentinel: Yes of course, it is possible: the Enterprise version is designed especially for this purpose. Soon an advanced and improved Enterprise package will be released on www.hdsentinel.com as the currently available demo package is a bit outdated.
For users who do not want to setup Enterprise system but want to quickly check their disk status remotely, Hard Disk Sentinel standard and Professional offers monitoring by the WebStatus function (Configuration -> Integration).
This allows checking of disk information from any remote web-browser, including netbook, mobile phone, PDA and so.
This feature is disabled by default and can be secured with password of course.
FW Editor: I will put myself in a Hard Disk Sentinel user position. When should I be worried about my HDD capabilities? For example, is 80% HDD health a good result?
Hard Disk Sentinel: Not all hard disks are perfect, there can be different problems with different seriousness.
Yes, 80% is the "good" category (but not the best, the "excellent" category of course). It means the disk had some minor problems as reported in the text description field.
In general, 50% (the yellow alert level) is where users should _really_ start to worry about the disk and stored information and 25% (the red alert level) is where disk replacement is really recommended.
Also it is important that because some problems could be fixed and some problems may not cause further headaches (like the already reallocated sectors), it is even important to diagnose the disk to make sure that the health level is constant (the drive status is stable) or decreasing as new and new problems appear. In the later case, backup is recommended every time upon (even minimal) decrease of the health.
More information about tests, health:
Especially important to diagnose the disk before first use.
Checking the health % value is just like doing a (very) quick scan by an antivirus software but the tests work as intensive scans to diagnose the disk.
FW Editor: Can Hard Disk Sentinel repair bad HDD sectors? Is there any way to fix some of the HDD problems using Hard Disk Sentinel?
Hard Disk Sentinel: Yes of course. In the Disk menu "Surface test" window there are special tests available to not only diagnose but also to fix the disk problems. The best method is the "Reinitialise disk surface" test which performs write testing with special overwrite patterns and then clears the disk surface.
This fixes both bad sectors (forced reallocation of them) and "weak" sectors (eliminate them or reallocate if neccessary).
This is a very time consuming but powerful test method. Usually, a less effective version of this test (incorrectly) called as low level format in disk management software.
In some cases the quicker WRITE test may be enough which simply clears the disk ("zero-fill").
Note that these write tests can be used to secure data elimination, completely preventing data recovery (may be useful for users and especially companies, organizations before disposing storage devices like HDDs, SSDs, pendrives or even memory cards). The software can be protected by password to prevent accidental use of such features.
Please refer to Help -> Hard disk tests for more information about these functions.
FW Editor: Your company has an affiliation program. Can you tell us more about this program?
Hard Disk Sentinel: We have business partnership with Share-it service. Share-it handles registration and payment steps and provide affiliate program: webmasters, companies, business owners as potential re-sellers can join the affiliate program and earn up to 50% commission on each Hard Disk Sentinel sale
initiated on their website or through their business.
We may offer registration codes or fully functional trial versions of different products for our potential business partners so they can try all features and examine all possibilities.
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