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Best programs to read SMART attributes on a HDD
Written by: Ilia
Data recovery specialist, guest author, journalist.
What is SMART
SMART is a tool for assessing hard drive current state, i.e. HDD self-testing. This hardware-software set predicts the time of HDD wearing and records several other important characteristics regarding storage device performance and hard disk errors.
What does SMART indicate
SMART monitors the performance of a hard drive in real time. Analysis of collected data and evaluation of each characteristic in two groups takes place inside the system every second:
- signs of storage device normal wearing (the number of cycles, heads movements, spindle hub rotations)
- device current status (the number of errors and the time of searching for a track, the elevation of heads above the drive, the total number of active sectors)
Performance assessments typically are in the range from 0 to 100. The higher is the number, the better is the performance of a data storage device in this particular characteristic. A low number indicates a high probability of future failure.
Utilities for reading SMART data on Windows
There are several useful utilities for receiving SMART data and reading it in an understandable for an ordinary user way, which differ only in interface and some features. For example, programs can check the speed of recording/reading, show how much free space is left, display which clusters are broken and etc. The most popular and user-friendly among HDD SMART tools are:
Hitachi Drive Fitness Test - HDD SMART monitoring tool for AHCI/IDE/USB
The difference between Hitachi Drive Fitness Test and others is that it reads SMART data and tests a hard drive without affecting user data. During the first run the system detects on a computer all available hard drives supporting WinDFT technology. To view detailed SMART information on found data storage devices, double-click on any of them in program main window.
Download Hitachi Drive Fitness Test
HDD Health - SMART check software for Windows
HDD Health is WinDFT counterpart with an extended interface. All computer hard drives are displayed on the main screen. For analysis choose any of them from the list and read tabs displayed at the bottom of the screen. "Health" indicator is displayed in percents: the lower it is, the worse is the quality of hdd performance. To get detailed SMART information you should do the following: Open menu DRIVE - SMART attributes — needed hard drive. "Threshold" is the column with the list of essential indicators and "Worst" shows the lowest point of a data storage device characteristic for the whole time of its performance.
HD Tune has more detailed data output than its competitors. In this program, information on different hard drive systems is divided into separate tabs and the main ones are: "Health", "Info" and "Disk monitoring". "Info" contains information on disk status, "Disk monitoring" shows its current activity, "Health" shows detailed assessment according to SMART sensor. The most important one is "Status" column with a conclusion on how dangerous the numbers of indicators are. If the status is "ok", there is no reason for concern, if it's "Warning", then your hard drive is likely to need a repair soon.
The smart monitoring tool seemingly doesn't differ from its counterparts. This utility interface also has tabs, placed under the list with hdd available for diagnostics. There are two tabs with smart data which is quite interesting: Smart info and Smart history. The former contains assessment of current state and data from hard drive sensors. The latter shows the minimum (the worst) coefficient of state for the whole time of this data storage device performance.
It's the only utility from this list, which has versions for all popular versions of Linux, Windows and Mac OS. Another significant advantage is the capability of enabling and disabling SMART, when other apps can only take readings of integrated hdd smart self-monitoring system. The rest is easy: run the app, click on a hard drive icon, read detailed status, errors and history of indicators for all data storage device characteristics in the tabs.
Of course, you don't have to check SMART disk info, but status assessments monitoring is the only way to know in advance about possible future hard drive failure. You can copy information in advance or buy a backup medium, altogether prepare for the worst. And therefore it's important to install any of the listed above utilities on your computer and monitor from time to time whether everything is good with your HDD SMART data.
Hitachi Drive Fitness Test or HDD Health quite simple tools are enough for basic monitoring without any details, advanced users will appreciate PassMark DiskCheckup and GSmartControl advanced logs.
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