I'm going to be picking up a few new hard drives soon and would like to know of any good ways to put them through the ringer before trusting them with my data. In the past I would usually do things like fill new drives up with data, copy directories filled with large files to new directories on the same drive, do regular formats (not the quick ones), etc. But, seeing as how I'm going to be dealing with 2 terabyte drives now it would be nice to have a more automated way to test my new drives out. Any suggestions on freeware proggies out there that I can mess around with?
If you're putting the drive into an RAID array on a hardware controller then during the step 'initialization' all drives in the array will be zero-filled and checked for bad sector.
If not then use the bootable utility provided by your HDD manufacturer to scan for bad sectors and provide SMART read out. That's the best you can do.
The above tests for quality. Reliability is a different issue tho and can not be tested. HDD reliability from any manufacturer is a matter of luck. A small percentage (<5%) may fail within the first few months while the rest should survive beyond their warranty period.
windows comes with a surface scan utility, though i've never used it on a new drive
What exactly are you accomplishing by copying files to your drive or formatting it.
Basically, I'm forcing the head to move around a lot. Based on experience, if a hard drive can survive it's first month in one of my systems, it'll last for a very long time. I just hate waiting around for that one month of uncertainty, so it would be nice to be able to stress the drive out over the course of a few days to speed things along...
Then do periodic backups/imaging to another drive would be the best option. While RAID /w redundancy prevents downtime due to mechanical failure, a good backup is still needed if data is that important to you.