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I've seen programs in the past that were able to check the SMART status of a hard disk drive but it wasn't easy for me to find. Also, I think I had to boot into the CD in order to check on it. What is your preferred method for getting this data to hopefully preempt any disk failures?

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8 Answers 8

up vote 21 down vote accepted

I think "S.M.A.R.T. Monitoring tools" is the one I've used before. They give you all the parameters.

If you are going to be fooling with SMART, I'd recommend looking at the Google paper on drive failures. They are one of the few groups on the planet that have enough drives to do any real analysis, so their comments on the usefulness of SMART are probably the best research you'll find on the subject.

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2  
I will second the above! The google whitepaper on drive failure is perhaps the most authoritative work on the topic of drive failure to date. Very interesting statistics concerning the threshold where the chances of drive failure begin to skyrocket. –  Axxmasterr Jul 29 '09 at 2:32
    
The link to the Google paper above is now a 404. I suspect that the new home for the research is: static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/… –  Richard J Foster Apr 9 '12 at 13:18
    
@RichardJFoster: Thanks. I've updated the link in the answer. –  Michael Kohne Apr 9 '12 at 13:32

I like the free version of HD Tune.

From the website:

HD Tune is a Hard Disk utility which has the following functions:

* Benchmark: measures the performance
* Info: shows detailed information
* Health: checks the health status by using SMART
* Error Scan: scans the surface for errors
* Temperature display

HD Tune may also work with other storage devices such as memory cards, USB sticks, iPods, etc.

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HD Tune is excellent. –  bobobobo Nov 5 '11 at 17:50

For Unix-like systems there is smartd.

smartd is a daemon that monitors the Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART) system built into many ATA-3 and later ATA, IDE and SCSI-3 hard drives. The purpose of SMART is to monitor the reliability of the hard drive and predict drive failures, and to carry out different types of drive self-tests. This version of smartd is compatible with ATA/ATAPI-7 and earlier standards.

smartd will attempt to enable SMART monitoring on ATA devices (equivalent to smartctl -s on) and polls these and SCSI devices every 30 minutes (configurable), logging SMART errors and changes of SMART Attributes via the SYSLOG interface.

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SeaTools for this and several other health tests. Other vendors have similar free testing utilities available.

SeaTools is a comprehensive, easy-to-use diagnostic tool that helps you quickly determine the condition of the disk drive in your external hard drive, desktop or laptop computer. It includes several tests that will examine the physical media on your Seagate or Maxtor disk drive and any other non-Seagate disk drive.

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I use SMARTReporter on my Mac to put an icon in the menu bar. As long as it's green I feel OK.

SMARTReporter is a free application for Mac OS X that can warn you of some hard disk drive failures before they actually happen! It does so by periodically polling the S.M.A.R.T. status of your hard disk drive. S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) is a technology built into most modern hard disk drives that acts as an "early warning system" for pending hard disk drive problems. SMARTReporter can notify you of impending hard disk drive failures by sending e-mails, displaying a warning dialog or executing an application. The current status of your hard disk drives is always displayed through the customizable menu item.

Because SMARTReporter relies on the S.M.A.R.T. implementation of Mac OS X, it only supports ATA, SATA or eSATA hard disk drives, if you want S.M.A.R.T. support for your SCSI or FireWire hard disk drive, send feedback to Apple. Please note that a S.M.A.R.T. alert doesn't mean that your HDD will completely fail for sure, nor can S.M.A.R.T. catch all possible HDD errors - it's just a very valuable indicator.

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I just got Disk CheckUp but I am still figuring out how to use it.

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If it's a Windows system, I recommend SpeedFan - it also lets you submit your SMART data to the SpeedFan website and gives you a nice little online analysis.

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CrystalDiskInfo is my preferred SMART info tool now, simply because it's less hassle than downloading and installing smartmontools and is available as a portable application (so you can easily stick it on a USB drive or Dropbox). You can also configure it to actively monitor your drives and report any issues in a popup notification, as well as show each drive's temperature in a separate taskbar icon.

Update: make sure you download the portable edition. The "Installer edition" has OpenCandy adware built-in and the "Shizuku edition" features anime art on the left side of CrystalDiskInfo's main window. The Shizuku edition's installer also tries to install the Amazon browser bar by default during setup, but you can opt not to install the browser bar.

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Avoid Crystal now - it was great but the latest version (5.6.2) contains a lot of malware :( –  Robert MacLean Jul 4 '13 at 16:26
    
@RobertMacLean it looks like the "Installer edition with OpenCandy" is the evil adware version. The "Shizuku edition" installer will install the Amazon browser bar by default but you can opt not to install it during setup. The Shizuku edition also seems to feature anime art by Suisho Shizuku on the left side of CrystalDiskInfo's main window. Have you tried the portable version? That one still appears to be clean. –  rob Jul 5 '13 at 18:22
    
yeah the portable one still seems clean. Maybe you should change the link to that one? –  Robert MacLean Jul 6 '13 at 7:57
    
Good idea; I left the link to the main page but added a direct link to the portable edition. –  rob Jul 8 '13 at 21:23

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