The job description of a hard drive is similar to that of a professional writer — read and write. Not unlike a writer, a hard drive can experience a productivity slowdown hamstringing its ability to perform its primary functions. To prevent your hard drive from experiencing a tech equivalent of writer’s block, it is imperative to regularly run health diagnostics. Not only it will help to maintain the overall integrity of the device, but it will also prevent the corruption and loss of important data. There are many ways of testing your hard drive and benchmarking its performance; however, prior to embarking upon their discussion, it is necessary to know the most common symptoms of a failing hard drive.
The Most Common Symptoms of Hard Drive Failure
It is important to recognize that the lifetime of a hard drive ranges from five to ten years. The number can be substantially lower for external drives that are subjected to the variations in temperature and humidity. More often than not, hard drives exhibit symptoms indicating that their life is ending instead of suddenly grinding to a halt. It is extremely important to notice and properly interpret such signs of the upcoming problem to preserve precious files stored on a drive.
The overall sluggishness of a Mac and frequent hangs are unspecific symptoms that may or may not be related to the approaching failure of a drive. However, if the problem is not ameliorated with software tweaks, it is almost certain that the failing hard drive is the culprit. Regardless of the source of the unsatisfactory performance of the system, it is absolutely important to back up your data. It can be done with the help of Time Machine, iCloud, or an external storage device.
How to Tell if Your Hard Drive is Failing?
If there’s anything a user can do to extend the lifespan of their drive, it’s to habitually check its health. By doing so, it is possible to foresee the upcoming failure before it is too late. Luckily, there are many avenues of action that Mac aficionados can choose when they are afraid that their drive might be failing. For starters, it is necessary to check its SMART status. It can be done with the help of the Disk Utility. To this end:
- Click on the Finder icon in the Dock;
- Click on the Applications tab in the sidebar;
- Locate and click on the Utilities folder;
- Launch the Disk Utility;
- Select your hard drive from the list;
- Click on the Info icon at the top of the window;
- In a window that opens, find the Smart Status heading and check whether it is Verified or Fail
- Close the Disk Utility.
The verified SMART status is a sign of normally functioning hard drive. However, it’s time to worry about the hard drive’s health if the self-monitoring utility of macOS suggests that the device is failing.
If after running a SMART check, Disk Utility shows formatting errors, it might be necessary to access the Recovery mode. To do so:
- Hold the Command+R key combination at the startup;
- In the boot menu, select the Recovery HD partition;
- Upon launch, open the Disk Utility;
- Select the drive that has formatting errors;
- Click on the First Aid tab;
- Click on the Repair Disk button;
- Close the utility;
- Boot the macOS.
If errors continue to crop up, it is a sign of a failing hard drive.
Why Is Testing SSD Drives for Errors Important?
The HDD market is being gradually reduced by the ever-expanding share of the SSD market. There is no surprise that newer MacBook models are shipped with SSDs, which are more reliable and efficient. Although SSDs offer faster read and write speeds, they lag behind their counterparts in terms of lifespan. To maintain SSDs in perfect health, one should recognize early warning signs, which can be difficult since they don’t have moving parts that produce noise. Additionally, it is not always possible to remove an SSD to test it on another Mac. For this reason, Mac owners should know how to check SSDs for errors.
SSD and HDD Checking Tool
There is a host of both free and commercial diagnostic and monitoring apps for SSDs and HDDs. To test the health status of your storage device, you can simply download a checking and monitoring utility either from Apple App Store or the Web. After installing and registering the app, you can run it to assess disk writes and reads speeds. In addition to benchmarking, the diagnostic utilities can be used to analyze the variations in health indicators of a drive as well as detect bad reallocated sectors, I/O errors, and bad offline sectors among others.
How to Choose Software to Check Hard Disk Health?
The software market offers numerous tools for checking the health of a hard drive. To choose the best available option, it is necessary to look for comprehensive benchmarking and monitoring solutions. In addition to compiling and displaying health-relevant statistics, which is the primary purpose of diagnostic utilities, there are also apps that can be used for optimizing drive performance. Therefore, it is recommended to opt for apps that are capable of performing three functions: benchmarking, monitoring, and optimizing.