Hard Disk Sentinel (HDSentinel) is an HDD/SSD health and performance monitoring and analysis tool. Its main purpose is to locate, diagnose, and resolve problems with hard disk/solid state drives and monitor performance instabilities and failures. The software aims to report the current state of available drives to the user as well as to provide tools to improve their performance.
There are three versions of the software: Hard Disk Sentinel Standard, Hard Disk Sentinel Professional and Hard Disk Sentinel Enterprise, starting from $19.50 (+VAT) for the Standard Edition. It's a one time fee for a permanent license. There is also a free Trial version as well as free versions for DOS and Linux. The download size of the installation file is approximately 25 MB. The installation is pretty simple and straightforward. After starting the tool for the first time, you are prompted to enter your registration key in order to access all features of the program.
The first impression of the software is not the best one due to the old design which sticks out on new versions of Windows. The interface is divided into several tabs including Overview, Temperature, S.M.A.R.T, Information, Log, Disk Performance, and Alerts. The Overview tab offers basic information regarding the health and performance of the selected hard drive.
The Temperature tab analyzes the current temperature and displays useful data regarding the history of its change. S.M.A.R.T (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) is a fault detection, monitoring, and maintenance technology introduced by IBM in 1992 and it's used by Hard Drive Sentinel to check for errors and report them to users. The S.M.A.R.T tab displays advanced options for various hard drive performance parameters. The Information tab displays basic information about the drive as well as supported features. Log and Alerts tabs keep track of various events regarding the drives whereas Disk Performance keeps track of info regarding the disk activity and read/write rates.
Useful options inside Hard Disk Sentinel include Advanced Power Management used to control the drive's power consumption. There are several useful tests to perform but some of them deletes all data on the selected hard drive and users should be careful. Hardware Self Tests are built into most hard disks and they can be fast (Short Test), detailed (Extended Test), and manufacturer-specific mechanical (Conveyance Test).
The Random Seek Test verifies the noise level and checks the temperature and track-to-track seek time which provides useful information under excessive disk usage. Finally, the Surface Test analyzes the surface of the drive and some versions of the test actually delete all data stored on the drive. Reports about the hard drive can be saved in formats including TXT and HTML and users can be notified by email if something is worthy of notice regarding their drives.
When compared to other similar tools, HDSentinel shows its strengths and weaknesses. One thing is that it throws too many information at users, especially if they are casual computer users. Some data is difficult to comprehend and some settings shouldn't even be touched without professional knowledge. On the other hand, CrystalDiskInfo and HD Tune Pro support USB drives and devices whereas HDSentinel supports also memory cards, docks, multi-drive enclosures, and pen drives (if they support status detection). Also, CrystalDiskInfo can't read SAS/SCSI drives, unlike HDSentinel.
When it comes to pricing, CrystalDiskInfo is not only free, but it's also open-source, and you can even download the source code. On the other hand, HD Tune Pro will set users back $34.95 which is comparable to HDSentinel's fee for the Professional Edition. HDSentinel definitely goes more in-depth than HD Tune Pro and CrystalDiskInfo, but it's also more invasive and its resource consumption affects the CPU usage noticeably.
• Plenty of options to tweak and tests to run
• Presents detailed information about all drives installed
• Monitors temperature, transfer rates, and many other parameters and analyzes them for inconsistencies
• Users can be notified about problems via email
• Advanced Power Management can be used to tweak the drive's power consumption
• Reports can be easily viewed, exported and sent
• It pretty much does its job when it comes to drive health/performance, and its complexness is what sets it apart from the competition
• The software has an old and bland design, much like its competition
• Too much information is being thrown at the user when compared to HD Tune Pro or CrystalDiskInfo
• Some settings are definitely not for casual users and they may even cause damage to the disk or data
• There are free tools such as CrystalDiskInfo which offer similar functionality