“S.M.A.R.T” (=’Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology’) is a special kind of software test (s), a firmware utility, located on the BIOS chip of your IDE/S-ATA HDD that has the ability to monitor the hardware’s health and warns you before it’s too late.
Though “SMART” cannot detect all types of issues and won’t always work, but still, it’s a very handy feature that might give you just enough time to backup data on that particular HDD, before it “dies” completely.
“SMART” technology can send you messages all by itself (usually displays when BIOS is detecting your hardware and outputs info), but if you encounter any errors while using your operating system, then most of the time, you’ll need the help of a special software, otherwise, those warnings might not “reach” you.
However, in Windows, you might be able to see some of these errors (if any) under the HDD’s “Device status” section in Windows “Device Manager”. But, using a specially designed software for that purpose is recommended as they have the ability to pull out various “health” related issues of your HDD.
Ubuntu comes with a one of its own by default, but Windows does not (there isn’t any in Windows 7 at least). If you have an Intel chipset, then you might have a “SMART” data viewer that comes with their “Rapid Storage Technology” software package.
But if you don’t have any of those, and looking for a free utility, then try “SmartData”.
Main features …
*. As mentioned, “SMART” technology evaluates the health of your HDD by running various types of tests. Such as:
Read error rate, Spin-up time, Power on Hours (total amount of hours the HDD has run. This is usually used to evaluate the lifetime), Power Cycle count, Temperature, Power-off Retract count, Multi-zone error rate etc.
As you can see from the above screenshot, this tool will fetch these data from the HDD and display them back to you, so you can evaluate the health state of your HDD.
(displays the health condition as “bad”, “good”, tolerance values etc. So even if you HDD has an issue, if the tolerance-reading/threshold is below the standard limit, then the HDD might not be as bad as it looks. But, you should always take its warnings quite seriously, because with HDDs, you never know!).
*. Shows additional hard disk related information such as : The model (and manufacture), Serial number, Total capacity, remaining space, current temperature, Health in percentage, number of Sectors/Cylinders and Heads etc.
*. Supports monitoring multiple drives.
*. Shows temperature history in a graph.
*. Run on system start-up (disabled by default).
*. Add/Remove fields and adjust few of their settings under the “SMART Information” tab.
*. Change the “SMART” details update-interval … these are some of its features to mention.
If interested you can get it form this “SmartData” freeware page.
But please remember that, though this can be an extremely useful tool, still, it doesn’t let use manually run the “SMART” tests (as with Ubuntu).
Then again, I don’t think it’s good for your HDD to run these tests quite frequently, as they can put heavy stress on it. So for most users, I think it’s more than enough :). Good luck.