GSmartControl v1.1.1

A Full Review of GSmartControl, a Free Hard Drive Testing Tool

Screenshot of GSmartControl
GSmartControl.

GSmartControl is a hard drive testing program that can run self-tests on a hard drive as well as view its SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) attributes to monitor its overall health.

The program is easy to use, works with various operating systems, and can even operate directly from a flash drive or other portable device if on a Windows PC.

Important: You may need to replace the hard drive if it fails any of your tests.

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Note: This review is of GSmartControl version 1.1.1, which was released September 25, 2017. Please let me know if there's a newer version I need to review.

More About GSmartControl

GSmartControl is a program that provides a graphical user interface for running smartmontools' smartctl. Linux, Mac, and Windows users can install GSmartControl, and a portable version is available in ZIP form if you're running Windows.

The supported Windows versions include Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP. GSmartControl also works with Windows 10.

Once up and running, just double-click any of the listed hard drives to open that drive's Device Information window. PATA and SATA drives are supported as well as some USB to ATA bridges and some RAID connected drives. A separate tab holds different information and functions of the hard drive.

The Identity tab contains information like the drive's serial number, model number, firmware version, ATA version, smartctl version, total capacity, sector sizes, and an overall health self-assessment test score.

You'll find SMART attributes in the Attributes tab. SMART is a system designed to predict certain failures of a drive to warn you in advance so you can take preventative measures to avoid data loss. Some of the attributes are seek error rate, spin-up retry count, high fly writes, raw read error rate, free fall protection, and airflow temperature.

You can view whether any of them have failed, see the normal and worst threshold, and read the raw value of each.

The Capabilities tab lists all the drive's capabilities, such as offline data collection, SCT, error logging, and self-test capabilities. Each one explains the capability, such as the short self-test, extended self-test, and conveyance self-test routine's length of time.

The two log tabs hold the error logs and self-test logs while the Perform Tests tab is how you can run the self-tests that the drive has built-in to it. Just choose short self-test, extended self-test, or conveyance self-test and then click the Execute button to run the test. The result of a test will tell show below the progress bar to inform you if errors were found.

You can check the box next to Enable Auto Offline Data Collection on the main program screen to force GSmartControl to automatically run a short self-test every few hours.

From the Device menu, you can load files created with smartctl as a virtual device to simulate a connected hard drive.

GSmartControl Pros & Cons

There's plenty of things to like about GSmartControl:

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • View SMART attributes
  • Works with multiple operating systems
  • Information can be saved to a TXT file
  • Supports three self-tests
  • Portable version available

Cons:

  • Not all USB and RAID devices are supported

My Thoughts on GSmartControl

GSmartControl is really easy to use and doesn't require that you boot to a disc, which means you can get it up and running in little time. Each test you can run from the Perform Tests tab explains what that test is used for and how long it will take.

I like that you can export the results GSmartControl finds but it's too bad you can't export just the self-test results or just the SMART results, as the exported file contains everything.

Note: DiskCheckup is a program that's very similar to GSmartControl but can alert you by email if SMART attributes could indicate issues.

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