(Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology)

(Including SSD)

I cannot stress this enough.
Everyone (yes you too) MUST find a SMART tool they are happy to have running all the time.
Your drives will have been screaming at you for help, but if you do not have anything running that can notify you, then you only find out when the drive fails.
All motherboards and hard disks support SMART but no Operating Systems come with a tool that will notify you.
By the time your BIOS or OS finally start to complain about a drive, it is often in a very bad condition and liable to fail soon.

All drives will age, and Windows Scandisk is NOT your friend !
By the time you fix bad blocks with Scandisk it is often too late to move data, and it will just delete it.

You need to run the drives own internal SMART tests regularly.
Do a short test first, then an Extended test to fix or move errors it finds.

Internal SMART settings
There are 3 internal settings. Usually only the first feature is enabled.
Many drives support all 3 options, so try to enable them all.
1) Enable/disable SMART
2) Automatic self tests
3) Automatic saving of device and SMART info
Built-in SMART switches

vendor specific tools

Western Digital

Seagate and Maxtor

Toshiba (Laptop Utilities)

Generic tools

SMART Testing (very good, but requires .NET4) (Linux/Win/Mac)
(^ Those 2 are front-ends for ) (Speedfan includes advanced SMART diagnostics)

Monitoring/Viewing (includes SSD optimisation) (Mac)

You must find a SMART monitor you are happy to have sat in the background all the time.
The older your drives are, the more important this is.

Disk Fresh can “refresh” the tracks/blocks/cylinders. Using this several times a year will keep files from fading. to the alternatives)

Over time the spindle and bearings wear, so the head position drifts and it cannot read or write within the boundary of the blocks.
A complete full format will re-write the track markers where the heads now position.
Tools like “DiskFresh“,  “SpinRite”  and “HDD Regenerator” can shift the tracks without needing to empty and format the drive.

If your computer will not boot, you can find the tools for your drive on the “Ultimate Boot CD”
This ISO image also contains many other disk tools that work on all drives.

Other useful pages (includes more SMART tools)

Ageing techno-hippy armed with a radio show and not afraid to use it.

2 comments Write a comment

  1. Great article Doc,

    Over the years I have been very lucky with my own hard drives but other I know have not. For those that are so inclined I have been recommending ‘SpinRite’ for several years.
    However disk repair is not for faint of heart and if all you have is your laptop and its drive goes down, well you just may be behind the proverbial ‘Eight Ball’. (Though there are ways to Massé yourself out of the problem.)

    But you are quite right in recommending monitoring software. Most people that I’ve met over the years do not even realize such tools exist. Most unfortunate as they could save themselves both aggravation and expense by using some preventative diagnostic tool.


  2. Cheers to you 😀
    Unfortunately most people only learn about SMART too late to help.
    Some SMART tools (Seagate DOS tool) will stop fixing when they hit 100 errors, so at that point, you really need to give-up and do a low-level format.

    I intend to keep this page updated with all the [u]free[/u] tools I can find (though Mac owners as usual do not have much for free), and so it will be mostly just links rather than info.

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