Seagate creates two free hard drive testing software programs—SeaTools Bootable and SeaTools for Windows. While both testing tools are excellent, they are different.
The bootable version of SeaTools is more powerful but is a bit more difficult to use. SeaTools for Windows isn’t as full-featured but it’s much easier to install.
Both programs are completely free and are highly recommended. If you suspect that your hard drive might be failing, one or both of these tools from Seagate will help you determine what’s wrong.
More About Seagate SeaTools
Seagate SeaTools is available in both a Windows version and a stand-alone, bootable version for maximum flexibility, called SeaTools for Windows and SeaTools Bootable, respectively.
Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP are all supported operating systems in the Windows version while the bootable SeaTools can be used no matter what operating system is installed on the hard drive, including none at all.
We also used Seagate SeaTools in Windows 10, and though it’s not officially supported, it seemed to work as advertised.
SEATOOLS FOR WINDOWS
As we mentioned above, SeaTools for Windows installs to your computer like a normal program. It can perform several basic tests that can help determine the health of your hard drive, and all types of internal drives can be tested, like SCSI, PATA, and SATA drives.
External drives are also supported like those that work via USB or FireWire.
To get started, visit the SeaTools download page and choose the link called SeaTools for Windows under the Downloads section. The download is an EXE file called SeaToolsforWindowsSetup.exe.
Setup isn’t confusing at all and installs the program quickly.
The bootable SeaTools program that can be installed on a flash drive or other USB device, can be downloaded here—select SeaTools Bootable. The file is called USBbootSetup-SeaToolsBootable.zip, meaning you’ll need to extract the program files from the archive in order to use it.
Once you’ve done that, open SeaToolsBootable_RC_2.1.2.usbBootMaker.exe, the built-in bootable USB creator. Follow the steps in the wizard to put SeaTools on the device, and then boot from the USB device to run the program.
Another version, SeaTools for DOS, is similar, but don’t let the for DOS part scare you away. SeaTools for DOS works with any kind of PC, no matter what operating system is installed.
Visit the SeaTools download page to find the SeaTools for DOS download link. It will download as an ISO file called SeaToolsDOS223ALL.ISO.
Seagate SeaTools Pros & Cons
There’s little not to like about this excellent set of hard drive testing tools:
- Two versions are available depending on needs
- Both versions are easy to use once installed, and are completely free
- SeaTools for Windows tests hard drives no matter the manufacturer
- SeaTools for Windows includes lots of information on the drive, like its serial number, capacity, cache size, firmware revision, and rotation rate
- SeaTools for DOS contains a highly useful “acoustic test” for noise troubleshooting
- SeaTools for DOS is OS independent, so it’s automatically compatible with all operating systems
- SeaTools for DOS requires ISO image burner software that novice users might have difficulty using
- SeaTools for DOS handles a maximum of only 100 errors, at which point testing has to begin again
- SeaTools for DOS doesn’t seem to work well with most RAID controllers
Thoughts on Seagate SeaTools
Seagate’s SeaTools hard drive testing programs are some of the easiest to use of any we’ve ever worked with. The tests are basic, easy to run, and generally pretty fast in our experience.
Your available hard drives and tests are easy to see when the program opens and can be started with just a few clicks of the mouse.
SeaTools for DOS can perform the several basic tests that SeaTools for Windows can run but it can also run a very useful Acoustic Test (on Seagate and Maxtor drives only). This test can really save you a lot of time if you think your hard drive is making noise. It will spin the drive down until it’s completely idle, making the drive nearly silent. If you no longer hear the strange noise, the hard drive was the culprit!
So if you’re comfortable burning ISO images and you want a slightly more powerful set of tools, use SeaTools for DOS. If you’re more of a novice or you just want a quick and basic hard drive test, give SeaTools for Windows a try.