If there’s one thing that strikes fear into my Mac heart, it’s a hard disk drive that’s about ready to go bad. Why the fear? Because my Mac has almost 500 gigabytes of files—movies, music, TV shows, photos, documents, files, PDFs, utilities, applications, games.
A bad hard drive is a sweaty headache. Is there a way to know when your Mac’s hard disk drive is about to kick the bucket, buy the farm, cross the river Styx, go belly up, dance the last dance, go into the fertilizer business? Yes. And no. It’s that easy.
When Moving Parts Stop Moving
Macs today don’t have many moving parts. Keyboard. Mouse. Um, hard disk drive. Fan. SuperDrive. Even fewer moving parts on the MacBook Air models.
Of all the inexpensive, easily replaced, prone to breakage parts, only the hard disk drive’s death makes brave men perspire.
That’s because your Mac’s disk drive is where all your stuff is. When it goes it goes one of two ways. Your Mac begins acting up, doing strange things, taking a long time to boot up, or a long time to open an app or file, and so on.
Or, nothing happens at all. You sit down, fire up your Mac and nothing happens. That’s not a fun time for any Mac user. Fortunately, hard disk drives are better designed, better constructed, last longer, cost less than ever, ever before.
The S.M.A.R.T. In Your Mac
Your Mac’s hard disk drive probably comes with a built-in warning system called S.M.A.R.T. (which means Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology). Basically, it monitors your Mac’s drive for various and sundry indicators that may spelling impending disaster.
SMARTReporter is a Mac utility which runs all the time, constantly monitoring the S.M.A.R.T status in your Mac’s hard disk drive. Installation puts a little colored disk icon in your Mac’s Menubar. Let the polling begin.
Simply select the Mac hard disk drive you want SMARTReporter to monitor. If it finds a failure or problem, you can be notified with an alert, run an application, or send you an email notice.
The Appearance preferences are straightforward, too. Display or not display in the Menubar, change the icon set.
Finally, set the Behavior to start SMARTReport on login, stop checking disks when the Mac notebook battery is on, and check for updates.
If all goes well, then SMARTReporter will let you know when it finds a problem. You can change the polling interval to seconds or minutes, as needed.
Is SMARTReporter Really THAT Smart?
Yes. And no. Hard disk drives fail in two basic ways. Predictable failures. Unpredictable failures. But even unpredictable failures may provide some S.M.A.R.T notification before failing, well, unpredictably.
The idea is to get some notification, some warning that a problem has occurred, because, sooner or later, without fail, your hard disk drive will fail.
SMARTReporter simply reads what S.M.A.R.T provides, and notifies you accordingly. If your disk drive reaches certain thresholds of performance, you get a notification, whether it be a slowdown, inability to read or write certain sectors, whatever.
It’s been my experience with many hundreds of hard disk drives over the past few years that SMARTReporter works about 65-percent of the time. Your mileage may vary. Some disk drives just plain die without any warning at all. It happens.
Since using SMARTReporter doesn’t require any additional effort, won’t do anything to your hard disk drive, and is free, that’s 65-percent additional protection than you had without it. It’s a little more protection for little additional effort and no additional cost.