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Old 01-28-2009, 12:59 PM   #1
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Default Hard drives: SMART analyzers

Given all the talk about Seagate drives recently, I downloaded SMART Utility 2.0 — $25 from Volitans Software (30-day free demo), Mac only.

It scans internal hardware diagnostics built into many modern hard drives on a user-defined schedule and reports on risk factors that may predict a failure. If the drive is shown as failing or failed, you have some time to back it up and replace it.

Sounds like a great idea, so I installed it on my Mac’s internal drive. But I was disappointed when neither of my two external drives appeared, neither the Seagate FreeAgent Pro 750 (FireWire) or the SimpleTech 250 (USB2) showed up on its list.

Turns out that many external drives, including both of mine, are not readable. According to the SMART Utility FAQ, this is due to:
… a limitation of the external drive enclosures, and possibly the drivers used. Put simply, there are special commands in the ATA specification (the protocol that the drives use to communicate with the motherboard, which includes IDE and SATA) that the drives understand to access the SMART data. Most external drive enclosures only support the bare minimum of the ATA specification over the external connection interface (USB, FireWire, or eSATA), and that does not include the commands to access the SMART data. There are a few enclosures that do support it, but they are few and far between.
That probably means that no other SMART analyzer will work on those drives either. What a pity. I wonder if it would work if I installed it on the Seagate and booted from it?

Anyway, worth mentioning. If the drive you are worrying about is an internal this utility (or a similar one for Windows) might be very useful.

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