What Is the Laptop DST Short Test?

By Tammy Clevenger

The laptop DST short test is a test of the physical integrity of a hard drive. The acronym “DST” stands for Drive Self-Test. Many laptop manufacturers, such as Dell, are shipped with hard drives that are shipped with the utility software that runs a DST short test on the drive each time the computer boots up. The test ensures that the hard drive is in working order.

How Does the DST Short Test Work?

The DST Short Test is automatically run by a utility installed on the hard drive by the hardware manufacturer just after the Power On Self Test (POST) is run during the boot-up process. If the DST Short Test passes, the computer boots into the operating system. If the DST Short Test fails, an error message is displayed.

DST Short Test Passed

If you see a message in a log file or on your screen that indicates the DST Short Test has been passed, this simply means that the DST testing tool has determined that your hard drive or drives are in good working order.

DST Short Test Failed

If a DST Short Test fails on your computer, and you receive an error message or log entry that reflects the failure, this is likely caused by a failing hard drive. However, certain software will also cause the DST Short Test to fail. McAfee and other anti-virus programs may cause the DST Short Test Failure error to generate. Other corrupted applications may also throw the error. Re-install the anti-virus program, or return your computer to an earlier point in time with System Restore.

DST Short Test Alternatives

Though all hard drives includes some DST testing tool, Seagate has expanded the standard DST tool included in the firmware for Seagate hard drives. Seagate SeaTools tests SATA, USB, 1394, ATA (PATA/IDE) and SCSI hard drives. It is available as a free download from the Seagate website for Windows XP to Windows 8 operating systems.