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SMART Disk Diagnosis

SMART is a monitoring system, included in most modern hard disks, that attempts to diagnose disk health and predict impending drive failure. The smartctl/smartd utility of smartmontools is the standard for Linux/Unix and versions of it are available for Windows as well. DiskCheckup also seems to be a good utility for Windows. Many modern controller and RAID cards will refuse to acknowledge a disk if it reports SMART Failed status.

Remember that the RAW value reported by most SMART utilities is distinct from the normalized value reported by some tools. In general a high RAW value and a low normalized value indicate a problem.

The SATA page has some additional info. NTFS.com has a list of SMART attributes and their definitions.

Fast SMART Disk Checkup

The fastest synopsis of a disk's status is probably smartctl -Hc /dev/sd?:

$ smartctl -Hc /dev/sda
smartctl 6.2 2013-07-26 r3841 [x86_64-linux-3.13.0-24-generic] (local build)
Copyright (C) 2002-13, Bruce Allen, Christian Franke, www.smartmontools.org

=== START OF READ SMART DATA SECTION ===
SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED

General SMART Values:
Offline data collection status:  (0x00) Offline data collection activity
                                        was never started.
                                        Auto Offline Data Collection: Disabled.
Self-test execution status:      (   0) The previous self-test routine completed
                                        without error or no self-test has ever
                                        been run.
Total time to complete Offline
data collection:                (    0) seconds.
Offline data collection
capabilities:                    (0x7f) SMART execute Offline immediate.
                                        Auto Offline data collection on/off support.
                                        Abort Offline collection upon new
                                        command.
                                        Offline surface scan supported.
                                        Self-test supported.
                                        Conveyance Self-test supported.
                                        Selective Self-test supported.
SMART capabilities:            (0x0003) Saves SMART data before entering
                                        power-saving mode.
                                        Supports SMART auto save timer.
Error logging capability:        (0x01) Error logging supported.
                                        General Purpose Logging supported.
Short self-test routine
recommended polling time:        (   1) minutes.
Extended self-test routine
recommended polling time:        (  48) minutes.
Conveyance self-test routine
recommended polling time:        (   2) minutes.
SCT capabilities:              (0x0021) SCT Status supported.
                                        SCT Data Table supported.

If you want a one-line disk diagnosis, you can add grep:

$ smartctl -Hc /dev/sda | grep "^SMART overall"
SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED

Keep a mind that once your SMART disk diagnosis reports FAILED status here, the smartctl command itself may well fail also.

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