How do I know if my hard drive is failing?4 min read

Required Software


smartctl controls the Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART) system built into many ATA-3 and later ATA, IDE and SCSI-3 hard drives. The purpose of SMART is to monitor the reliability of the hard drive and predict drive failures, and to carry out different types of drive self-tests. smartctl is a command line utility designed to perform SMART tasks such as printing the SMART self-test and error logs, enabling and disabling SMART automatic testing, and initiating device self-tests. Make sure S.M.A.R.T. support is enabled in the BIOS. The next step is to make sure that smart is enabled on your disks.

If it’s disabled, you can enable it like this.


Test Disk Health


You can get more information like this.


Extended Test

You need to begin an extended self-test of drive /dev/sdb. You can issue this command on a running system. The results can be seen in the self-test log visible with the ´-l selftest´ option after it has completed.

Now, to get this setup properly. First, you need to config the /etc/smartd.conf file for this to work properly.

This is an example file.

This will run an Offline, Extended, and Conveyance tests in series on each of my hard drives Thursday mornings. If any errors occur, it will email me. Next you need to edit /etc/default/smartmontools.

And uncomment this line.

Finally, restart Smartmontools

If you get any error messages, check the logs



I love learning new things and trying out the latest technology.

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1 Response

  1. kiwijunglist says:

    Q1 – Sorry potentially quite a dumb question, but can you explain how to issue this command?
    “The results can be seen in the self-test log visible with the ´-l selftest´ option after it has completed.”

    Q2 – Can you adjust the below so it does a shorter test every night and all tests every Thursday from 00:00 to 4:00, in succession
    /dev/sda -H -s (O/../../4/00|L/../../4/02|C/../../4/04) -d sat -m

    Is this worthwhile to do?

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