Top Windows 7 Disk Management Tools

February 17, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Keeping on top of your hard disk drive maintenance can be tricky. With temporary data files, the potential for disks or sections of disks to become corrupt, the requirement to regularly defragment your hard disk drive and general tasks such as resizing hard disk partitions, there is a lot to think about.

On the whole there are tools that can provide these functions – but while resizing a partition isn’t exactly a common task, others are.

Over the last few months we’ve looked at several hard disk related utilities. It’s worth recalling some of these to present a selection of the best tools you might need for looking after a hard disk drive.

Top Windows 7 Disk Management Tools

Disk Checking Tools

To begin with you simply cannot get by without a tool for checking your Windows hard disk drives. These might be corrupt, for instance, thanks to an unexpected power outage or a virus.

If you have suffered from either of these things recently a disk check is recommended. While Windows will run a disk check automatically during start up following a sudden shut down, other drives might also be affected, and these can be checked either using third party disk checking tools or with the assistance of the built-in Windows Disk Error Checking.

Note that this utility can also be used on floppy disks and some removable devices.

Monitor Hard Disk Space Usage

One particularly useful utility that we have covered is WinDirStat,a method for gauging disk use.

While My Computer might indicate to a Windows user how much disk space he or she has remaining on their PC or laptop, it doesn’t provide the full story. For instance an MP3 file you have been listening to might in fact be in WAV format, and as such be taking up 300MB instead of 3MB.

WinDirStat will illustrate this by means of a graphical chart, with larger files displayed as larger blocks.

Using Defrag and Disk Management

Another vital disk management task is to defragment your hard disk drive. This is elementary stuff, yet many users ignore it. In fairness, Windows has become better over the years of auto-managing this sort of thing, which occurs when information is written to a hard disk drive without the drive wasting time moving to the most efficient empty location on the disk. This results in data being scattered (fragmented) across the device, with the only way around this to defragment the drive, which sees the data collected together.

Conversely, various advanced disk management tasks are available in Windows 7, such as the ability to extend and shrink a partition. While not the most regularly needed utility, this can be easily performed in Windows Disk Management, and if you have enough space on your drives you can create a new partition by resizing two others!

GSmartControl

Finally being aware of what is going on within your PC hard disk drive is vital, at least as a means of detecting when the device is likely to spin its last. SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) controls can provide this information, and GSmartControl can provide access to this.

Note that use of this software comes with some caveats – it isn’t perfectly safe and will require firmware updates for drives from certain manufacturers.

For full details on safe use and to find a copy of GSmartControl for your Windows, Mac OS X or Linux computer, visit gsmartcontrol.berlios.de/home/index.php/en/Downloads

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