To check your hard drive’s health, try using S.M.A.R.T. drive diagnostics:
All modern drives have a monitoring technology called S.M.A.R.T. (Self Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) that continuously monitors a number of parameters on a hard drive. Many parameters can be monitored by S.M.A.R.T. including read and write error rates, seek error rates, spin up time, temperature and much more.
(Summary taken from techsupportalert.com)
Many programs support S.M.A.R.T., but I personally use the PartedMagic LiveCD’s built-in utility to do this. Because this is a Linux LiveCD, you might want to use a native Windows program. Good choices are:
Supports various S.M.A.R.T. settings and diagnostic tests as well as a “conveyance test” (travel damage) that might suit your needs.
Open source but supposedly does not have as many features as HDDScan. I’ve never used it so I can’t jusdge the veracity of this.
Though this is usually used for CPU and hard drive temperatures (and of course fan speeds), SpeedFan also has a little S.M.A.R.T. tab from which you can run diagnostics.
Check the manufacturer’s site. – Seagate offers SeaTools, WD offers WDDIAG etc.
On the one hand, you could apply the “Error-checking tool” of Windows like this:
Randomly right click a partition in “My Computer” to select “Properties”=> Open “Tools” tab and hit “Check Now”.
On the other hand, you could check it at the aid of special software, such as Seatool.
To check the status of good hard drive utility MHDD recommend http://hddguru.com/software/2005.10.02-MHDD/ program is a living directly from an external medium, eg. CD.
Building on Khalid’s answer:
The advantage of testing your HDD with vendor-specific utilities is that they include the manufacturer quality thresholds, and that they run independent from Windows (which may help if you’re experiencing intermittent lock-ups).
Ultimate Boot CD (https://www.ultimatebootcd.com/) includes most if not all of the vendor-specific tools to test hard drives. Despite the name you can boot it from a USB drive (or over the network), and select the tool you want from a menu (rather than figuring out how to boot each tool from a USB or DVD yourself).
I am not affiliated with UBCD in any way.