Testing HDs with smartmontools

smartmontools is great for diagnosing HDs and SSDs, especially from live Linux distros like GParted. You can run:

Linux:  smartctl -t long /dev/sda
Windows:  “\Program Files\smartmontools\bin\smartctl.exe” -d ata /dev/sda -t long

from the command line to start the test. Replace /dev/sda with the relevant drive. Use the –scan switch (two dashes) to display available drives.

Linux:  smartctl -l selftest /dev/sda
Windows:  “\Program Files\smartmontools\bin\smartctl.exe” -d ata /dev/sda -l selftest

to display progress. Windows users must use an Administrative command prompt. Results can be displayed with

Linux:  smartctl -a /dev/sda
“\Program Files\smartmontools\bin\smartctl.exe” -d ata /dev/sda -a

In particular, look for reallocated sectors, ID #5 in the list. If the RAW_VALUE is not zero I’d replace the drive. I’m more forgiving for SSDs. HDs are far less reliable in general and reallocating sectors can wreck their performance.

GSmartControl is a GUI for smartmontools. The Windows version is especially useful. Most live Linux distros don’t include it. I’m just scratching the surface of what smartmontools can do. Be sure to read the documentation, etc.

Under Windows, using -d sat instead of -d ata allows the use of my USB SATA dock. YMMV.

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