Vol. 20, #33 - August 17, 2015 - Issue #1043
Disk diagnostic tools
- Editor's Corner
- Disk diagnostic tools
- Manufacturers' diagnostic tools
- Other disk diagnostic tools
- Testing new drives
- Send us your feedback
- Recommended for Learning
- Microsoft Virtual Academy
- Registration is open for Exchange CON 2015
- WindowsNetworking.com Webinar: Windows 2003 End of Life Risks & Considerations
- Quote of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- This Week's Tips
- Diagnosing failed disks
- Key S.M.A.R.T. metrics for SSDs
- Diagnosing disk problems with PowerShell
- Events Calendar
- North America
- Webcast Calendar
- Register for Webcasts
- Tech Briefing
- Cloud computing
- Enterprise IT
- System Center
- Recommended TechGenix Articles
- Recommended articles from websites in TechGenix Network
- Windows Server News
- Eight obstacles on the road to private cloud success
- How micro-segmentation will make your job easier
- Whats the difference between DaaS and VDI management?
- The vSphere 6 content library reduces manual meddling
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- This Is My Lucky Day
- Amazing Driving Skills
- Cheerful Parrot Sings "Everything Is Awesome"
- Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- SQL Server 101: What is SQL Server and how does it work
- SAVE THIS NEWSLETTER so you can refer back to it later for helpful tips, tools and resources!
- SEND YOUR FEEDBACK to [email protected] if you have any comments or suggestions!
This week's newsletter is all about tools for diagnosing potential problems with HDD and SSD disks. Unless you're storing your data in the cloud, it's on a disk in your PC or on a file server or storage appliance in your server room or datacenter. Of course if your data is in the cloud then it's still stored on a disk somewhere, but in that case you have to trust your cloud provider to take care of your data.
Of course trust while not easily gained can be quickly lost when a vendor or service provider breaks faith with the customer. This raises an important question for the marketing department: How can we rebuild the trust of our customers? You can read the Pointy-haired Boss's answer in this Dilbert comic strip:
If I recall correctly Sherman McCoy's father, a man of great integrity and high ethical standards, suggested something similar in the film version of Bonfire of the Vanities...
Ask Our Readers: WServerNews has almost 100,000 subscribers worldwide. That's a lot of expertise to tap into. Do you need help with some issue or need advice on something IT-related? Got a question you'd like us to toss out to our readers to
Disk diagnostic tools
Every once in a while a hard disk drive makes a funny clicking noise; usually that means it's going to die soon. Solid state drives tend to just suddenly stop working once a sufficient level of wear has built up in their flash cells. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to know proactively ahead of time whether your HDDs or SSDs are still healthy so you can replace them before they bite the dust?
Disk diagnostic tools are intended to fill just that purpose, and there are lots of them around. Below are some of the utilities that have been recommended to me by my colleagues. Some of these I've used, others I haven't, so the tools below are presented to you "as is" with no guarantees. If you have any experience using these tools that you'd like to share with other readers, or if you'd like to recommend a tool that is not on our list below, feel free to email us at [email protected]
Many of my colleagues recommend CrystalDiskInfo for retrieving S.M.A.R.T. data from a disk drive in or attached to a computer:
S.M.A.R.T. data will tell you about the health of a disk and can sometimes indicate the possible imminent demise of your disk. CrystalDiskInfo comes in various editions and is released under a simplified BSD license. The author of this utility has added preliminary support for Windows 10 so the tool should still be useful on the latest systems. You can even get a Japanese version that has a cute image of Shizuku Chan, a female character in children's manga and anime:
CrystalDiskInfo is currently my "go to" utility for regularly checking on the health of disks in the PCs in our office.
Manufacturers' diagnostic tools
Sometimes it's best to go straight to the website of the vendor that manufactured your HDD or SDD to see whether they have a disk diagnostic program that's specific for the drives they manufacture. After hunting around a bit we managed to track down the following utilities you may find useful:
SeaTools for Windows from Seagate Technology
For a review of this program see this article on About.com:
Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows from Western Digital:
Windows Drive Fitness Test (WinDFT) from HGST a Western Digital company:
I'm told you can use the above for diagnosing problems with Hitachi hard drives.
If you have an old Samsung drive you want to diagnose, you can download the Sumsung HUTIL diagnostic utility in RAR form from HDDguru.com here:
Intel Solid-State Drive Toolbox for running diagnostic scans on Intel SSDs:
Look under Diagnostic Tools on the above page for the download.
OCZ SSD Guru for monitoring the health of your OCZ SSDs:
If you know of or have used any other manufacturer's disk diagnostic utility let us know at [email protected] so we can share it with our readers.
Other disk diagnostic tools
Some additional disk diagnostic programs that neither I nor my colleagues have tried using include:
DiskCheckup from PassMark Software
DiskSmartView from NirSoft:
Acronis Drive Monitor:
If any readers have experience using any of these products, feel free to share your feedback with us at [email protected]
Testing new drives
If you have a new HHD and you have some doubts about its reliability for some reason (maybe you dropped it on a concrete floor, or perhaps you accidentally left it sitting on the cabinet of your $10,000 speaker system and you're afraid the powerful magnet in the speaker may have damaged the drive) there's a time-tested free tool called Bart's Stuff Test you can use to perform a simple burn test on your drive:
See also This Week's Tips in this issue for more on diagnosing and resolving disk problems.
Send us your feedback
Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at [email protected]
Recommended for Learning
Here's an announcement from the Microsoft Press Blog:
Coming soon: Windows 10 books
Microsoft Virtual Academy
What's New in Windows Server 2016 Preview Jump Start (August 18 - 19)
Get a demo-packed look at Windows Server 2016 Preview, and see why it is the platform of choice for the integrated datacenter. Explore new automation features and enhanced virtualization functionality. Preview new features that reduce system downtime, take a look at new storage replication technology, and check out the zero-footprint, cloud-optimized Nano Server technology, along with scripting with the new PowerShell Desired State Configuration features:
Registration is open for Exchange Con 2015
Registration is open for this year’s MS Exchange CON event, the annual online gathering of IT Strategists, System Administrators, Solution Providers and, and Microsoft MVPs. This virtual live event is I hosted by MSExchange.org and TechGenix as a convenient and cost-effective opportunity for IT Professionals everywhere to catch-up on the latest technologies, solutions and strategies to manage MS Exchange in the Enterprise, Office 365 and Hybrid Environments.
This year’s event kicks off with a Keynote address by Michael Osterman, discussing the challenges and uncertainties facing organizations as they deal with the shifting landscape of on-premise Exchange and Office 365. A few of the wide range of topics and issues he’ll address includes:
- Important considerations when migrating to Office 365 from an Hybrid environment
- The newest trends in security and content archiving
- Need-to-knows about Microsoft’s built-in security and archiving capabilities
- The new features and functions Microsoft is likely to offer in future Exchange releases
The virtual live conference takes place on Thursday, September 24, 2015, starting at 10am ET / 9am CT / 7am PT / 3pm GMT.
Following the kick-off presentation, you will be able to choose from multiple breakout focus sessions featuring experts addressing topics of interest to the MS Exchange Community and the newest tools offered by leading solutions providers, including ENow, Barracuda Networks, Kemp Technologies, and Binary Tree.
Participation is limited to the first 1,000 registrants, so reserve your spot today!
WindowsNetworking.com Webinar: Windows 2003 End of Life Risks and Considerations
Windows Server 2003 support ended on July 14, 2015. Now more than ever, you need to be aware of the risk factors and other considerations as you migrate to Windows Server 2012. Join us for a live webinar to learn the important “need-to-knows” for existing Windows 2003 customers from Microsoft MVP Richard Hicks on Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 at 1PM EDT | 12N CDT | 10AM PDT.
Richard will be joined by Bhargav Shukla and Kurt Jung from Kemp Technologies who will also discuss how Kemp’s LoadMaster family of products make the new features in Windows Server 2012 highly available and easy to use.
Topics that will be covered during this live, interactive webinar include:
- Remote Access (DirectAccess and VPN)
- PKI and Security Risks with Windows 2003
- Load Balancing and more...
You’ll also have the opportunity to ask your top questions. Sign up now for this informative event!
Quote of the Week
"The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers." --Sydney J. Harris
Until next week,
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SharePoint CAML Query Helper lets you use the SharePoint Object Model or Web Services to build and test CAML Queries for SharePoint 2007, 2010 and 2013:
Disk Wipe erases the contents of a disk replacing it with random data or leaving the drive completely blank:
The Ergotron WorkFit-S 33-341-200 Dual Sit-Stand Workstation helps counteract the harmful effects of increasingly sedentary work styles:
GOT ADMIN TOOLS or other software/hardware you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]
Diagnosing failed disks
Here's a tip that's kind of obvious but often overlooked: if a HDD or SSD in your computer suddenly dies and Windows bluescreens, start by checking the cable connected to the disk as it's possible jarring the machine caused the cable to come loose a bit. Heat stress (e.g. a laptop left in the sun on your car seat) can also cause a cable or socket to experience poor or intermittent contact. So when in doubt, open the machine up and tighten or replace the cable before you throw out the drive.
Key S.M.A.R.T. metrics for SSDs
I was informed by one colleague that the key S.M.A.R.T. metrics to watch when it comes to monitoring the health of SSDs are those that relate to:
- soft errors
- non-recoverable errors
- % lifetime remaining
- % of reserve blocks consumed
There are various S.M.A.R.T. metrics that correspond to these different health categories, and a good summary of them is provided in the following Wikipedia article:
If an SSD is causing you problems or behaving strangely and nothing worrysome shows up when you query S.M.A.R.T. data from the drive, you should check with your vendor to see if they have an update for your drive or motherboard firmware that might solve the problem.
Diagnosing disk problems with PowerShell
Beginning with Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 you can now use Windows PowerShell to determine the health of your drives by retrieving S.M.A.R.T. data from them. This blog post from the Windows Storage Team provides a quick introduction to the Get-StorageReliabilityCounter cmdlet introduced on these platforms:
Full syntax and examples of using this cmdlet can be found on TechNet:
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]
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Installing and Configuring Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop 7.6 (Part 5) (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
Citrix IMA vs. FMA… XenDesktop components and terminology cheat sheet (Bas van Kaam)
Creating a Cloud Data Location and Jurisdiction Policy (Part 2) (CloudComputingAdmin.com)
Active Directory in the Cloud (Part 2) (WindowsSecurity.com)
Active Directory in the Cloud (Part 2) (WindowsSecurity.com)
Hyper-V|W2k12R2|8x1GB|2x10GB (Flo's Datacenter Report)
Simplify Enterprise Wi-Fi Security and 802.1X on Small Networks (WindowsNetworking.com)
VLAN Trunking with Mikrotik RouterOS (Scott's Weblog)
MPAuthor - Using a PowerShell script to collect performance data in a SCOM rule - 101 (Kevin Holman)
OpsMgr: Sample OS Summary Dashboard with “Blue Bar” Columns (Wei Out There)
Saying Goodbye to On-Premises Exchange (Part 5)
Doing your Database on AWS (Part 4)
Adding Physical Servers to Cisco ACI Fabric
Microsoft Ignites a new Focus on Security (Part 1)
Active Directory Insights (Part 3): Re-examining read-only domain controllers
Eight obstacles on the road to private cloud success
It seems that despite their many benefits, private cloud deployments are plagued with an insurmountable amount of potential risks. Learn how to tell if your private cloud project is doomed, and what you can do about it if it is, by examining these eight mistakes many enterprises make in their private cloud projects.
How micro-segmentation will make your job easier
Network micro-segmentation promises better security, but it also could very well be the key to growth for the server admin’s role in the new data center. Learn more about why micro-segmentation is good for today’s server admins.
Whats the difference between DaaS and VDI management?
DaaS offloads a lot of infrastructure maintenance from your IT team to the cloud service provider, which means it comes out on top when compared to VDI management. Though many DaaS and VDI management tasks are the same and have similar costs, learn how they differ and what you can expect from each provider.
The vSphere 6 content library reduces manual meddling
For many admins at most large-scale organizations, the content library that came with VMware's vSphere 6 release was long overdue. This new feature brings centralized management of templates and other items to businesses running multiple vCenter Servers, and it effectively keeps content under control. Discover more about the content library now.
This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]
This Is My Lucky Day
A compilation of some of the luckiest people on earth - featuring pedestrians, railway passengers, motorcyclists, car drivers, tenants, spectators, policemen and bank robbers:
Amazing Driving Skills
A performance of some amazing driving skills using regular Hyundai Elantra and Hyundai Tiburon cars:
Cheerful Parrot Sings "Everything Is Awesome"
A yellow-naped Amazon parrot called Princess Yellowfeather sings 'Everything Is Awesome' at Birds on Safari, a pet store in Stuart, Florida:
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
'Beautiful' is the only word that can possibly be used to describe this video filmed at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan:
WServerNews - Editors
Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7 Resource Kit and has been author or series editor for almost fifty books mostly published by Microsoft Press. Mitch is also a ten-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see www.mtit.com.
Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also manages research and marketing for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.