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SMART Utility helps monitor hard drives

updated 10:50 am EDT, Mon June 18, 2007

SMART Utility ships

Volitans has released SMART Utility, an application to scan the internal hardware diagnostics system of hard drives. SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) is a system built into hard drives by manufacturers to report on various attributes of a hard drive's operation. SMART Utility is different from other drive utilities, such as Disk Utility, which only read the overall SMART Status. SMART Utility not only displays the individual attributes to see their status and information, but it also uses an internal algorithm based on those attributes to detect drives failing before SMART indicates it has failed. This allows time to backup, and then replace the drive. It runs on Mac OS X 10.4 or later, with a Intel- or PPC-processor. It is available for $20.

by MacNN Staff





  1. gskibum3

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Ain't so SMART

    For me SMART has many times failed to discover a drive was failing until long after I figured out that was the issue. By the time SMART reported the drives were failing it would have been too late. In fact, I've yet to see SMART kick in until it was already too late.

  1. cvbcvb

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Considering this software is supposed to be smarter then SMART, Id love to hear if it actually worked for someone...


  1. ajhoughton

    Joined: Dec 1969


    SMART & pricing

    Well I *have* seen SMART detect a drive failure before it actually happened (though not on a Mac, it must be said).

    That said, it's pretty easy to write a SMART utility on Mac OS X. Is it *really* worth US$20? I'm not sure. It'd have to be pretty darned clever to justify that price IMO, since most of what this app does consists of calling Apple-supplied APIs in IOKit. In fact, reading the web page, it seems that some or all of it may be lifted from (or just call into) smartmontools, which makes this even less work as the guys who wrote smartmontools have already done the hard part (figuring out which attributes on which drives mean which things).

    Also, I dislike the wording on the product's web page, particularly the part about justifying the $20 price tag. It sounds a bit too "hard sell" for my (admittedly British) ears.

    Maybe I'm just being overly negative. There's certainly an opportunity for someone to write a reasonable SMART tool for OS X. I'm not sure there's really any money in it though.

  1. Brian D Marsh

    Joined: Dec 1969


    there is another

    SMARTreporter has been out for over a year, and is freeware (donationware)

  1. apple4ever

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Developer Responds

    Hi I'm the developer of SMART Utility. I'd like to address some of these concerns.

    First, yes, SMART isn't the be-all end-all of HD failure prediction. But it is a pretty good indicator. One of the problems though is that it takes a lot for SMART to consider a drive failed. And unlike SMARTreporter or Disk Utility, SMART Utility not only looks at the overall SMART status, it looks at each individual attribute and decides whether the drive might be failure.

    For example, a drive may have 35 bad sectors. That's not enough for SMART to say the drive failed. But in my experience in diagnosing bad HDs, that's enough of an indicator for me. So SMART Utility considers that FAILING. This way, you can determine a drive is failing before SMART says it is. Its actually save my butt on more than one occasion- not to mention my customers in my day job.

    And yes, it is based on smartmontools. My app is just a GUI. You can use smartmontools to see the same thing it displays. But just like OSX Server, it puts a pretty face on the console, makes it easier to read, and can give a better indication of what is failing and why. It actually was a lot of work to get this up and running. I've broken even now, but I am using money to improve SMART Utility, including testing support, printing and email support, dock and menu displays, and much more. I think its worth the $20. And it may sound harsh, but it is true. How much is your data worth. You may take the chance, but I won't. I use this everyday to ensure my HD is good.

    But thank you for your comments. Its always good to bring these points out, but I'm sure other have them as well. It gives me a chance to discuss why I think SMART Utility is worth it.

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