Not much has changed since then, even though hard disk drives come with a Self-Monitoring Analysis And Reporting Technology built in that is supposed to use an early warning system so you’ll know about pending problems before they become problems after the fact. Here’s what you need to know.
S.M.A.R.T? Or, Not So SMART?
The S.M.A.R.T. reporting system built into most disk drives these days is what the inexpensive SMARTReporter app uses to let you know of a pending issue and alert you post haste.
I use SMARTReporter on my Macs, and I’ve used it on many, many hard disk drives connected to my Macs for years, and my results are probably average. 50-50.
Sometimes it works. Sometimes it does not. Still, better safe than sorry, right?
SMARTReporter checks the hard disk drive but does much more to make it worth the few dollars you’ll spend. For example, it checks your Mac’s system kernel log-file for I/O errors. Those are not good.
If your Mac runs a RAID array, then SMARTReporter can monitor and check for degrading or simply an offline status. It also checks disk space, which, when low, can also cause a Mac to act a bit wonky, as if there’s something amiss with the hard disk drive.
Configurations are plenty so it’ll take you a few minutes to setup SMARTReporter so it’s ready to monitor your Mac’s storage devices (internal or connected).
SMARTReporter may not be smart enough to detect every impending hard drive failure, but it could be the next best thing. The feature I appreciate the most is the list of alerts and notifications. Setup SMARTReporter to handle different notifications for each of the four disk checks– icon, email, alert, Notification Center. There’s even an option to run an app or script, for the Mac with more geek red.
Caveats? A few, but not enough to stop me from forking over a few dollars for an extra layer of protection and notification. SMARTReporter only works with ATA, SATA, and eSATA drives, and may or may not always work with externally connected USB or FireWire disks. It does work with internal solid state drives (SSDs) in most Macs, but only if the SSD itself supports S.M.A.R.T status, so your mileage may vary.
Does checking S.M.A.R.T. status with SMARTReporter work? Yes, but not always. BackBlaze is an online backup service which tracks hard disk drive failure statistics across tens of thousands of drives. Their Hard Drive SMART Stats article is a good read.