Wednesday, November 28, 2012

HOWTO: Check Hard Drive Health with Linux

I've been experiencing full system lockups on my netbook off and on for the last few weeks now. Up until recently though they had been few and far between so I'd just been ignoring the issue. A few days ago however they got bad enough to the point where I had to restart my system three times in the same hour.

Needless to say shortly after that I started running system checks. A quick boot into memtest showed that my RAM was A-OK (which is good considering one stick of RAM is stuck to the netbook's mother board). The next piece of hardware I checked was my netbook's SSD. Almost all modern hard drives have "SMART" controls today to allow you to check their current health status.

I booted my netbook from a Bodhi live USB drive and did a quick:

sudo apt-get install gsmartcontrol

GSmartControl is a GUI front end for smartmontools - a library that lets you interface with your drive's SMART controls and run various health checks on the drive. The interface is fairly straight forward and right clicking on one of the displayed drives gives you the ability to begin checking it.

There are options for a short test (which takes a minute or two) or a longer test (which can take up to several hours on larger drives to complete - depends on the size of your drive).

After my netbook finished the longer test I was greeted with some bad news - my SSD was failing in one area and getting close to failing in others:

At any rate GSmartControl is a fantastic tool for checking the health of your drive that is fairly easy to use. Hopefully the results of your drive check will be better than my own!

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. A very interesting post mr. Hoogland, you should try and do posts like these more often, specially for tools such as these.
    Pd: Keep up the great work with bodhy linux.

  2. Uh Jeff, That last picture... what makes you think your SSD was 'failing in one area and getting close to failing in others' ?

    Your drive never failed any of those categories.

    1. When clicking over a number of the values presented there I was told the values indicate drive issues in a pre-failure and/or failure rate.

      Replacing the SSD caused the system to no longer randomly lock up - so I am assuming it was in fact bad.