My knowledge of storage Hard Drives and SSD is getting out of date and I would like to know what tools are available to read more extensive SMART and other data from modern drives than just "SMART Verified".

My knowledge is about summed up from reading Louis Gerbarg's article on from write() down to the flash chips and occasional summaries of the state of the art SSD from http://www.anandtech.com

As drive controllers get smarter, it seems the old "wisdom" about zeroing a drive or what happens when a block is "bad" are less applicable. I'd love any links to great technical write ups (newer than 1 ) on modern storage technology as well as programs that can access engineering data on the SATA bus and other ways to tap into the storage subsystem short of hardware dissassembly.

Bonus points for tools and information on failure modes and engineering that allows these devices to work while degraded and ensure data is marked as corrupt when detected. There are commercial products that parse this data for HDD like Drive Genius but I'm unaware of any tools that expose data from SSD like wear leveling or predict flash failure due to over use based on current or historic write rates.

  • Please assume basic terminal knowledge and that debuggers or specialized software logging may need to be set up to gather this information. – bmike Apr 26 '11 at 19:08
  • It's kinda difficult to understand what it is exactly you're wanting. Do you want to know what to look for in a HDD and SSD? Or are you looking for tools to diagnose failures? – James Mertz May 4 '11 at 5:01
  • Good point @KronoS - I was looking for mac specific tools that helped probe specific drives to suss which SSD Apple is sourcing and how they work. It got migrated here. Basically tools showing data on the level of this article by Louis Gerbarg - devwhy.com/blog/2009/8/4/… – bmike May 10 '11 at 20:40

There are very many disk tools for ordinary hard disks. See this thread for a long list :
Best Free Hard Drive Health Monitoring & Diagnostic Programs.
Some of them may also do SSD, but the results are not too sure to be valid.

Below are some such products for SSD :

In all cases, it is always safer to use the tools created by the manufacturer of the SSD.


Disk Utility is the place to look on a Mac. Clicking on the HDD in question and then doing ⌘+i will show you the SMART status of the HDD.

In a terminal you can do:

$ diskutil info disk0

disk0 is where OS X is installed. To get the same information if you have a multi-disk Mac then you will need to change the numeral accordingly.

Anandtech tends to focus quite a bit on SSD technology these days. Have a browse around in the SSD/HDD Section to read up on SSDs. You'll get some articles that are more benchmarking focused and some which deal with the underlying technology - how it works - to a greater degree.

  • Thanks for the answer - I'll keep looking for more detailed information to break down the stream of SMART data - Perhaps I'll look into Drive Genius or other commercial tools to see if they expose lower level details of the workings of the controllers and devices. – bmike Apr 27 '11 at 16:24

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