If you don’t perform regular backups, then it’s a good idea to run a hard drive monitor to warn of impending failure. Hard drive monitors check the read/write speed, temperature and other technical data of your hard drive in real-time to look for activity that’s out of the ordinary. This can save your bacon if you’ve got large amounts of important data saved on your hard drive with no backups.
HW Monitor is a simple but comprehensive hard drive monitoring tool that also includes data such as temperature, speed and power consumption of your major components including hard drive. Even better, it can deliver warnings to your desktop when it detects strange or abnormal readings for your CPU and hard drive. Performance Monitor is much more rudimentary but displays your most important stats in real-time in a simple to read graphical display on your desktop although it doesn’t warn you if anything unusual is found.
One thing worth investigating if you’re intending on using a hard drive monitor is whether it supports S.M.A.R.T. This is basically a hard drive standard which makes monitoring of your hard drive easier and more accessible. It’s common on most new hard drives but yours is already a few years old, this feature my not be supported. If it is then you’ve got a much wider range of applications to choose from such as Hard Drive Inspector and ASTRA32 which comprehensively monitors a whole realm of components and features such as chipset, BIOS, USB and ISA/PnP devices, monitor, video card, network cards etc. If you’ve got a S.M.A.R.T drive and are concerned only with its health, then DiskCheckup is dedicated solely to hard drive monitoring checking the ‘Spin Up Time’, the number of start/stops, the number of hours powered-on and the hard disk temperature.