HDD Manager from Ashampoo

very good
key review info
application features
  • Constant monitoring of your hard drives
  • (7 more, see all...)

Ashampoo HDD Control is designed as an all-in-one utility for monitoring your hard disk) and keeping them in ship shape performance. It’ll keep an eye on the S.M.A.R.T. attributes or test the surface to check on its health; performance of the drives is improved through defragmentation and deleting of unnecessary files. Moreover, data recovery and destruction are also present in the feature list of the application.

The price of the bundle is $24.99, but with all those discounts Ashampoo is tempting the users you will be able to get it for less than that. Before spending this money you can take the suite for a ride and check if it is worth the dollars. There is an initial 10-day trial period, but if you register with Ashampoo time will be extended to 40 days.

For those accustomed with Ashampoo installer getting HDD Control on the system is nothing special. If you want nothing but the app you have to pay attention at the procedure and opt for a custom installation, which allows you to avoid MyAshampoo Toolbar, changing of the homepage and your own search choice.

The main application window (monitoring module) gives you the rundown on the current state of the selected hard drive, presenting information about health, performance and temperature. This way, if you notice an anomaly you can investigate it by appealing to the modules available in the suite.

Options in this screen include re-scanning the drives, writing a detailed report on the state of the selected drive, getting a reading of the S.M.A.R.T. attributes, viewing info on the disk’s abilities or testing its surface for faulty sectors.

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Reading S.M.A.R.T. data collected by HDD Control is not a difficult task, even if you are a beginner user, because the app also gives you the interpretation of the attributes, not just their values. Thus, for each attribute presented, you will have the status represented in an understandable form. The description of the attributes is present in the lower part of the screen, as you select them.

Tweaking up this module includes setting the refresh interval for retrieving S.M.A.R.T. details, the warning levels that should make the app trigger the alarm for both the attributes as well as the heating points.

“Defrag” is the second module in the suite. It comes with a simple menu and features multiple defragmentation methods, ranging from the normal job to fast defrag and the intelligent one. Our tests were conducted with normal defragmentation.

We began the evaluation with a 2GB partition with 10% of free space on it and a fragmentation level of 37%, as reported by HDD Control; similar apps we used for comparison informed of file fragmentation over 90%.

In order to reduce the fragments to 3% we had to go through multiple optimization sessions and to free up some space. With only 200MB free on the test partition HDD Control’s defrag engine managed to drop fragmentation level by 1 unit, to 36%.

With 300MB of free space things did not get any better. In fact they got worse, as the program indicated a fragmentation level of 38% and did not manage to reduce it, despite having more free space available (15%). Other apps we used showed a slight decrease in file fragmentation as less items were present on the drive.

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On its third attempt, having 28% of free space at its disposal (573MB), HDD Control’s defragmentation engine started to show some clear benefits. Starting from a reported state of 45% fragmentation it went to only 3% in three stages. Other defraggers we employed showed constant improvement of the drive’s performance thanks to HDD Control’s making of the files contiguous.

Running a fast defragmentation is not as thorough as a normal defrag, but it can have a positive impact on the hard drive’s performance. The difference between the two is that the quick job will not move the data to the faster tracks of the drive.

The third method is called “intelligent defragmentation” and, besides moving all the defragged items to the fastest part of the disk, it will also identify the often fragmented files and send them to the slower part of the hard disk. The developer advises you to use this method on drives with files you seldom modify.

Another option, is proactive defragmentation, which, once enabled, starts making the data contiguous only when the computer is idle. As soon as you start using it the process stops. This relieves you of running the defrag tasks manually.

Setting up the defragmentation module is an easy job, especially if you are used to hard disk optimization software. This area features not only the possibility to customize the free space level that triggers proactive defrag session but also to activate boot time defrag so that system files are also moved to better spots.

Benchmarking the speed of your HDD is also on the menu. It is ready to analyze the read and write speed of the storage device and compare it online with other devices. This way you will have an idea of the performance rank of your drive. The test will calculate the average speed, but you are also offered the highest and lowest values.

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The cleaning abilities of the suite include both tracks gathered while browsing the Internet as well as redundant files accumulated on the system under the form of temporary data. As far as the latter are concerned, you are given the option to select which folders you want to be verified for unnecessary items, create a list of exceptions, define the partitions that should be checked or set the file types the engine should look for.

Configuring how the Drive Cleaner works can be done from the app’s Settings menu. After the search is complete you can analyze each file individually and approve its deletion or save it. In the lower left corner of the screen you get all the details about the number of redundant files discovered and their weight in MB or GB.

If you tap into the configuration area of the module you’ll find the ways to create exceptions to the rule, enable the drives that should be scoured for redundant data. This is also the place to specify custom filters the app should take into account when looking for unnecessary files.

For web browsing tracks the suite shows support for almost all popular web browsers on the market, save Google Chrome. So those working with Internet Explorer, Opera and Mozilla Firefox should be able to use the browser cleaner.

During our tests we were able to clean cache, history and cookies from IE and Firefox. With Opera the cleaning session was not complete since cookies that should have been deleted were still detected in the browser.

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Getting your data back after accidental deletion is no hard game for HDD Control, provided that you keep to the basic rules of data recovery. This means that once you realize the loss you must at all costs avoid putting new files on the drive you want to recover from; a quick format of the area will also render the rescue attempt fruitless.

In other words, the recovery module does not excel in efficiency or thoroughness of the scan, but given that the items have not been overwritten it will be capable to retrieve them. Since surface scanning is used by the tool to uncover deleted elements, the entire procedure should not take too long to finish.

On the other hand, destroying sensitive information makes sure that recovery is either impossible or extremely tough to achieve. The deletion algorithms used include the famous Gutmann with 35 passes and the faster, but still extremely effective DoD 5220.22-M, which runs only 7 passes. There are also two lighter methods, but these come with a much lower rate of efficiency.

Another instrument included in HDD Control 2 bundle is the disk space analyzer. Its purpose is to run through the selected drive and retrieve details on the files and folders eating up the free space. Besides the raw data you will also get a chart showing the elements and the chunk of drive they gulped in.

Moreover, you can tweak statistics to show you only the space a specific file type takes. You can create your own group, besides the default ones in the suite and add to it the file types you desire.

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The Good

The suite can keep good tabs on the health state of the hard disks available on the PC. It constantly polls S.M.A.R.T. details and also provides their interpretation so that any type of user can figure out the stability of the storage device.

It sits quietly in the system tray and at mouse hover it pops up info on the selected drive: temperature, capacity and health state.

Among its modules there is the possibility to recover deleted data, destroy it beyond chance of retrieval or analyze the items chugging the free space on a selected partition. Also, you can compare the performance (read/write speed) of your hard disk with other users’ online.

The Bad

Our tests showed that the defragger needs more than 15% of free space available in order to get the job done (multiple passes are required, though). Another weak spot in the bundle is the data retrieval module, which has nothing to stand out with.

The Truth

Ashampoo HDD Control is still in an early stage of development and a suite encompassing this amount of instruments is only as good as each individual tool.

There are plenty of fixes and improvements to be done and at the current moment Ashampoo HDD Control manages to offer very good hard disk monitoring, great data destruction algorithms, HDD read/write speed tests, an average data recovery tool and a poor defragmenter and Internet cleaner.
user interface 4
features 4
ease of use 5
pricing / value 4


final rating 4
Editor's review
very good
 

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