The Datalife Disk Analyzer

(Reprinted From The Australian Apple Review June 1987)

Verbatim are well-known for their disks, especially for Datalife, but not many people know they produce good software as well.

The Disk Drive Analyzer is a very high quality program written to check the performance of your disk drive. It runs on all Apple 11 series and Apple /// disk drives, and all Apple compatible drives. (It requires 48K RAM, but nowadays, who's interested in how many "K"s it requires?)

All you have to do is boot the disk up and all is ready to go. The disk has to be left in the drive all the time, otherwise, a message will show up requesting this. One good thing about this program is that if you leave the drive door open, the drive won't give you that heart-breaking noise; it quietly stops the motor and asks you to put in the Disk Drive Analyzer disk.

Upon booting up, a title comes up with "Datalife" moving from right to left and after a while the menu page appears. It gives you six options.

Option O: this is just an introduction explaining what each option does.

Option 1: Radial Alignment Test. For those of you who don't know what this is, it simply means that the head of the drive has to be centred over the correct track location to read and write your data accurately. The screen will show a side view of the drive, and you can see the head and disk. When the test starts, the head is positioned around track 17, moves inwards to track 34, back to track 17, then moves outwards to track 0. The result is then displayed on the screen, giving a rating of good, fair or poor.

Option 2: Disk Speed Test. This is the most common test seen on other programs like Locksmith, Nibbles Away. But the one on the Disk Drive Analyzer is different from all the others because it doesn't show you what your drive speed is, it just shows an Apple drive with a disk spinning in it. That's it. When the test is finished, it also tells you whether the speed is good, fair or poor.

Option 3: Disk Clamping Test. The clamps are the two cups you see when you look into your disk drive. This test checks if the mechanism clamps the centre hole properly. On the screen you see the top of the "clamp" slowly moving down then the disk spins and after a few seconds the drive stops the clamp moves up, and the result is displayed. Again, it tells you if it's good, fair or poor.

Option 4: Read/Write Test. This is the fastest read/write test I have ever seen. It must be 200% faster than the read/write test of Applecillin. The screen shows a line being passed from the drive head to thedisk, and after a while, the line (information) is transferred back to the drive head. All this taking less than one minute. Your drive will either pass or fail this test.

Option 5: Autotest. This option performs all the above mentioned tests automatically in less than two minutes. Unlike the other test, this one doesn't have hi-res display. The program is very user-friendly, giving you on screen help and prompting. The hi-res animation is excellent, giving you some ideas on what your drive is doing.

Professional technicians may not find the Datalife Disk Drive Analyzer useful, but for people like me who are always worrying that their drive is "going south", this is a very good utility program. Once you see this program, you'll want to buy it.

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