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Catch that hard drive before it croaks

It only takes one catastrophic hard drive failure to make a strong man weep and to induce well-adjusted people into thrashing their PCs with baseball bats. In hopes of preventing further violence, a company called BinarySense has released a version of its HDDLife utility for notebooks.

HDDLife monitors the health of a PC's hard drive. A free version is available only for desktop PCs, but HDDLife Pro and the new HDDLife for Notebooks allow users to see a graphical representation of how much time they have left before that term paper vanishes and their system grinds to a halt. The software suggests whether a drive is about to crash or is in need of closer attention, giving a user time to backup files and seek assistance. The software can also put the drive into a standby mode if it detects overheating.

The utility supports all major types of hard drives, including Serial ATA, IDE and SCSI drives. The notebook version can be downloaded for $49. That may seems expensive, but hard drive recovery services charge far more.