Your Mac doesn’t have too many moving parts to wear out. For most MacBook models, there’s the screen hinge. The fan. The keyboard’s keys. The hard disk drive.
The latter is where your Mac stores all your files, photos, movies, and music. Is there a way to know if you hard disk drive is having trouble and perhaps about to fail? Is there an early warning system for disk drives?
When Fast Moving Stops Moving
Most Mac hard disk drives spin at a whopping 5,400 to 7,200 revolutions per minute. Moving parts wear out. Is there an easy way to know when your Mac’s disk drive is about to die?
Enter SMART. Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology.
SMART is built-in to most disk drives these days.
It’s a series of tests to detect and report on various disk drive problems. The idea is for SMART to let us know about potential disk drive failures before they happen.
For Mac users, the app that does the SMART checking and reporting is SMARTReporter. It resides in your Menubar and checks the hard disk drives status every so often.
When it finds a problem you get an alert, either a pop up warning or an email message.
SMARTReporter can monitor most ATA, SATA, or eSATA hard disk drives on your Mac, but not those connected via SCSI or FireWire.
SMARTReporter monitors your Mac’s disk drive in the background. It just works.
Rather, what works is the monitoring and the alerts. Whether SMARTReporter actually finds a problem and gives you an alert before the disk drive fails is a different issue.
It’s been my experience (and that of other experienced Mac users) that SMARTReporter works sometimes but not all the time. Why?
Disk drives fail for many reasons.
Sometimes the impending failure comes with a warning, which SMARTReporter may relay to you in the alert. And, sometimes the disk drive simply dies without a warning.
Since SMARTReporter doesn’t cost anything, and simply monitors your hard disk drive, it’s easy to say it’s worth having around, even if it only works about half the time. Half is less than the ideal, but much better than nothing.