Western Digital Data LifeGuard Diagnostic

Review of Western Digital's free hard drive testing tools: DLGDIAG and Dashboard

Western Digital Data LifeGuard Diagnostic (DLGDIAG) is a hard drive testing program that can be put on a flash drive for booting before the computer starts up. Western Digital Dashboard is the Windows equivalent that runs as a standard program.

Both of these programs–DLGDIAG for DOS and Western Digital Dashboard—are operating system independent, meaning they work no matter what's installed on the hard drive, but testing is only available on Western Digital hard drives.

Western Digital Dashboard for Windows

More About Western Digital Data LifeGuard Diagnostic

The supported operating systems for Western Digital Dashboard are 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 11 and Windows 10.

You can still use Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows, but it's no longer supported since Western Digital Dashboard has taken its place. The last version that was released is still accessible through that link; it tests WD internal and external drives, and runs on Windows 10 through Windows XP.

Getting started with the Western Digital Dashboard utility is simple: download the installation file and then run it to install it. Just like you would with any Windows program.

The bootable program, Western Digital Data LifeGuard Diagnostic for DOS, is a text-only program, which means you can't use your mouse to navigate around it. Don't worry that it says DOS—you don't need DOS or need to know anything about it to use the tool.

The bootable version requires a bit more work, but is great when you don't use Windows or can't get in for some reason. Download the installation file in the ZIP format, and extract it. Once that's done, see these instructions for getting the files onto a flash drive—just copying them there won't work.

Western Digital Dashboard is easier to use than the DOS version, but they can both perform the exact same functions, with the exception of the Windows version being able to view Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology (SMART) information.

The Short Test option in Dashboard performs a relatively fast self-scan, while an Extended Test checks the whole hard drive for bad sectors.

Both versions can also be used to wipe a hard drive by overwriting the drive using the Write Zero method of data sanitization.

You might need to replace the hard drive if it fails any of your tests.

Western Digital Data LifeGuard Diagnostic Pros & Cons

Because there's also a bootable version of Western Digital's diagnostic utility, there are some drawbacks:

What We Like
  • Dashboard for Windows is easy to use

  • Uncluttered interface

  • Displays basic hard drive information

  • Both versions also function as a simple data destruction tool

What We Don't Like
  • The DOS version might be more confusing to use than the Windows version

  • Requires a WD hard drive to be installed

Our Thoughts on Western Digital Dashboard & Data LifeGuard Diagnostic

The version for Windows is extremely easy to use and understand, clearly showing a pass or fail marker for the SMART status.

To start a scan, simply go to the Tools > S.M.A.R.T screen, and choose the short or extended test. We also like that you can read the model number and serial number of each device; those details are listed in the DEVICE DETAILS area of the Tools tab.

When selecting a hard drive to work with using Western Digital Data LifeGuard Diagnostic for DOS, you can view the serial number only. It's after you blindly select one of the drives and you return to the main menu that it displays the hard drive capacity, which is helpful in determining which drive you want to work with.

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