ActiveSMART Watches Your Hard Disk for Trouble--So You Don't Have To

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Most users will be fine with a free program such as HD Tune, which simply retrieves your hard drive's S.M.A.R.T. data (self-monitoring information about your drive's health) when you run it. However, if your PC is always-on it might be worth your while to keep a program like the $30 ActiveSMART (or Active SMART as it's referred to in some areas of the program) running in the background to keep an eye on the status.

The ActiveSMART interface is easy on the eye, well-organized, and simple to understand and navigate.
Like Active@ Hard Disk Monitor, ActiveSMART installs, then runs as a service to keep tabs on your drive's health. The drive itself does the monitoring; these utilities simply query the drive and display the information the drive returns. ActiveSMART displays the information in a way that's easier for less experienced users to understand than Active @ Hard Disk Monitor and also offers a rather effective disk space analyzer that graphically portrays where and how of most data resides. One other feature I like is the history of the drive temperatures which can help you spot problems with your systems cooling.

ActiveSMART is easy to install as well as easy to use. I did have its monitor crash on me a few times initially, though after reinstalling the program never wavered. Also, it's a bit pricey for what it does--$30 at the time of this writing. If you've the need to monitor your hard drives on a constant basis, then it's worth downloading the 30-day trial of this program. Otherwise, stick with one of the free alternatives.

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