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View Full Version : Could be a fake SMART error?




Iulian81
Feb 28, 2013, 06:34 AM
Hi! I had a Macbook Air A1237 with Leopard Mac OS installed on it. After about 3 years the login times started to increase considerably and gradually. Until a few months ago the MAC refused to start at all. :) I let him like tens of minutes to do boot sequence but it refused to start. Usually the Mac froze after the Apple image with a rotating circle disappeared and then 2 screens, 1 blue and other with lighter blue image appeared. The HDD seemed to struggle to do something as those 2 blue screens alternatively appeared one after other without end. I read some online hints, I started the Mac in safe mode, it did something... then those blue screen stopped to appear at all, the Mac just shut down. I installed a new operating system, the Snow leopard and everything seemed to be fine until I run the Disk utility program that says the SMART status for the drive is failing and the hardware has a problem that can't be repaired. I also used other HDD utility programs and the majority of them said the Hdd has a lot of bad sectors and the SMART is also failing for the Raw read error rate only. But the Mac works fine. The HDD also works like it has no problems.
Now I wonder if that SMART error is really true or is a misinterpretation of the fact that the Leopard OS did not started properly dozens of times in that period prior to install the Snow Leopard??



Brian Y
Feb 28, 2013, 06:41 AM
Hi! I had a Macbook Air A1237 with Leopard Mac OS installed on it. After about 3 years the login times started to increase considerably and gradually. Until a few months ago the MAC refused to start at all. :) I let him like tens of minutes to do boot sequence but it refused to start. Usually the Mac froze after the Apple image with a rotating circle disappeared and then 2 screens, 1 blue and other with lighter blue image appeared. The HDD seemed to struggle to do something as those 2 blue screens alternatively appeared one after other without end. I read some online hints, I started the Mac in safe mode, it did something... then those blue screen stopped to appear at all, the Mac just shut down. I installed a new operating system, the Snow leopard and everything seemed to be fine until I run the Disk utility program that says the SMART status for the drive is failing and the hardware has a problem that can't be repaired. I also used other HDD utility programs and the majority of them said the Hdd has a lot of bad sectors and the SMART is also failing for the Raw read error rate only. But the Mac works fine. The HDD also works like it has no problems.
Now I wonder if that SMART error is really true or is a misinterpretation of the fact that the Leopard OS did not started properly dozens of times in that period prior to install the Snow Leopard??

No, it's a sign you should replace the HDD ASAP. You'll need a 1.8" ZIF drive.

robbieduncan
Feb 28, 2013, 06:48 AM
I think you have cause and effect the wrong way round. SMART status is calculate by the HDD hardware/firmware. It is completely unrelated to the OS. If a drive is failing it could cause the OS to not boot correctly. Not the other way around.

Ploki
Feb 28, 2013, 06:50 AM
Probably bad sectors broke your installation, reinstalled it meaning you avoided them.

I'd replace the drive either way.

Iulian81
Feb 28, 2013, 10:13 AM
No, it's a sign you should replace the HDD ASAP. You'll need a 1.8" ZIF drive.

Do u think I will burn 200 $ for just someone from Internet says my hdd is broken...? And if it is really broken... why it still works perfectly??? :p I think is rather a SMART issue than a real HDD problem...

robbieduncan
Feb 28, 2013, 10:28 AM
Do u think I will burn 200 $ for just someone from Internet says my hdd is broken...? And if it is really broken... why it still works perfectly??? :p I think is rather a SMART issue than a real HDD problem...

Do you understand what SMART is/does? It is an early warning system for HDD failure: it is designed to give you enough warning to backup your data and replace the drive before it fails. You seem sure that your opinion/idea is correct and are unwilling to re-consider it in the face of evidence to the contrary. I'd advise re-considering what can cause SMART errors (the only documented cause is the HDD detects it's failing) and what this means.

Brian Y
Feb 28, 2013, 10:38 AM
Do u think I will burn 200 $ for just someone from Internet says my hdd is broken...? And if it is really broken... why it still works perfectly??? :p I think is rather a SMART issue than a real HDD problem...

You ask our opinion and then shoot us down when we give it?

Fine. Your hard drive is working fine, and there are no problems. Feel free to carry on using it without backing up.

If, however, you want to listen to reason:

- 1: It's not $200. Apple charge a fortune, but you can get the drives much cheaper. Probably less than $50.

- 2: SMART stands for Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology. I.e. the hard drive monitors itself, analyses it's condition, and reports any inconsistencies. Also, it's suffering from bad sectors. There's no such thing as a software bad sector. A bad sector is essentially a part of the surface of the disk that can no longer be used/no longer holds a magnetic charge. Sometimes this is recoverable, and the OS/FileSystem can move stuff around to avoid it. Sometimes, if it's failed badly, then you can't remove stuff from the sector, and you end up in your situation (losing data).

If at any point the number of bad sectors is increasing, it shows a failing drive. That coupled with it failing for Raw read error rate (read that again - read error rate) which means it's experiencing more read errors than normal, show it's time to get a new drive.

TheRealDamager
Feb 28, 2013, 10:43 AM
Do u think I will burn 200 $ for just someone from Internet says my hdd is broken...? And if it is really broken... why it still works perfectly??? :p I think is rather a SMART issue than a real HDD problem...

Listen to these two thread responders - they are right and you are very, very wrong. If you don't replace that drive right away, at least make sure you have a backup, because that drive is on it's way out.

stiligFox
Feb 28, 2013, 10:50 AM
I can't add anything to what these guys are saying, but I'll confirm it. I once thought I could just let the machine handle writing around the bad sectors, but once they start going, they start going faster and faster.

Get a new drive, you won't regret it.

Iulian81
Feb 28, 2013, 11:25 AM
Why it should got broken?? I never dropped or hit the Air somehow, I never harsh treated it, and now the Hdd which is supposed to be the most safe part of the computer have problems?? I know a Hdd must be able to support tens of G's, very powerful impacts. The only "unusual" thing I did to it is maybe I put the keypad vertically on my chest and used it as support to read the screen when I was in bed :) . The Hdd should not work when placed in vertical position or something??? :confused:

robbieduncan
Feb 28, 2013, 11:32 AM
Over time the survival rate of all HDDs falls to zero. Most consumer HDDs have MTF measured in single digits years. So some will fail in significantly less than that (otherwise the mean would not be that low). This is expected behavior from any component spinning at thousands of RPM with amazingly tight design and manufacturing tolerances.

Read this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_disk_drive_failure).

No one is suggesting you caused the failure but you need to accept that almost certainly your drive is failing. Drives are, essentially, consumable parts, a bit like wheel bearings on a car...

TheRealDamager
Feb 28, 2013, 12:28 PM
This thread is starting to smell funny to me - just like the one about "using up" your processor.

BeeJee
Feb 28, 2013, 10:06 PM
OP, you deserve to lose your data if you don't take the advice that has been given. Not only did 3 people agree that the drive is failing, you were given a more then adequate explanation on why it's acting the way it is. Also, don't ask for advise if you're going to act like the advise that has been given can't be trusted. Both our forum members and your computer are telling you it's dying. Accept reality. I hope you come to your senses.

Iulian81
Mar 1, 2013, 06:06 AM
OP, you deserve to lose your data if you don't take the advice that has been given. Not only did 3 people agree that the drive is failing, you were given a more then adequate explanation on why it's acting the way it is. Also, don't ask for advise if you're going to act like the advise that has been given can't be trusted. Both our forum members and your computer are telling you it's dying. Accept reality. I hope you come to your senses.

Nope the drive will not fail and all of you are just some alarmed kittens. :D

SandboxGeneral
Mar 1, 2013, 06:13 AM
Hi! I had a Macbook Air A1237 with Leopard Mac OS installed on it. After about 3 years the login times started to increase considerably and gradually. Until a few months ago the MAC refused to start at all. :) I let him like tens of minutes to do boot sequence but it refused to start. Usually the Mac froze after the Apple image with a rotating circle disappeared and then 2 screens, 1 blue and other with lighter blue image appeared. The HDD seemed to struggle to do something as those 2 blue screens alternatively appeared one after other without end. I read some online hints, I started the Mac in safe mode, it did something... then those blue screen stopped to appear at all, the Mac just shut down. I installed a new operating system, the Snow leopard and everything seemed to be fine until I run the Disk utility program that says the SMART status for the drive is failing and the hardware has a problem that can't be repaired. I also used other HDD utility programs and the majority of them said the Hdd has a lot of bad sectors and the SMART is also failing for the Raw read error rate only. But the Mac works fine. The HDD also works like it has no problems.
Now I wonder if that SMART error is really true or is a misinterpretation of the fact that the Leopard OS did not started properly dozens of times in that period prior to install the Snow Leopard??

SMART isn't exactly very smart as evidenced by the quoted text below. However, if you are getting a reading from SMART, then your HDD is likely in need of serious attention.

SMART is Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology, SMART. And it's when we got the IDE drives that manufacturers like Compaq that were big users, consumers of these drives, they said we need some way of knowing what's going on in there. Now that you've moved the controller in there, you've got this integrated drive electronics, this IDE. It's a black box. How do we know how good it is, how solid it is, how long it's going to last? We'd like to know, before it dies, that it's getting kind of flaky in there. But thanks to having moved the electronics in there, we can't see into that anymore. We need some visibility into the drive. That's what the Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology gives us, theoretically, is an API, a means of asking the drive about things going on inside. It's a classic case of politics. The manufacturers did not want to provide this information.

So the problem with SMART is that - and I learned this when I added that technology - SpinRite (http://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm) 6 is the first version of SpinRite (http://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm) to dynamically monitor the drive's SMART system while it's running. And what I learned was that the SMART system is only useful when the drive is under load, that is, when it's doing work. And that's the beauty of SpinRite (http://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm)'s use of the SMART system. There's a SMART analysis page in the SpinRite (http://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm) UI which shows you in real-time, for example, the amount of error correction the drive is doing per megabyte of data read. And it shows you the high point, the low point, and the average over time. So you're able to judge, literally in an analog fashion, judge the quality of the current quality of the drive when it's doing work.

The SMART system means nothing when you're not asking the drive to read things because it's only in reading that it has a potential problem. So it's one thing, it's sort of nice to have the SMART system around in the background. But unless you actually are watching it while you do a scan across the drive, it's not going to tell you that much. And of course the manufacturers know that. They're like, they're not wanting to actually demonstrate that, like create a means for judging drives, because then manufacturers would reject some of them.

Above text from Steve Gibson of the podcast Security Now (http://www.grc.com/securitynow.htm), episode 385 (transcript (http://www.grc.com/sn/sn-385.htm))

I use a PC DOS-based program called Spinrite (http://www.grc.com/spinrite.htm) as a maintenance utility and data recovery utility on all my HDD's. You have to have an IBM-PC in order to use it though. You take the HDD out of the Mac and connect it to the IBM-PC and run the program. Below is my old MBP HDD in a Dell PC with Spinrite (http://www.grc.com/spinrite.htm) working on it.

Independent review of Spinrite (http://www.troyandjessica.com/geekspeak/reviews/spinrite) (not me)

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/49002863/MacRumors/SpinriteImages/IMG_2003.JPG

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/49002863/MacRumors/SpinriteImages/IMG_2004.JPG

4x_KlRlcqNI

The SMART Utility (http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/24875/smart-utility), for OS X, was indicating a bad sector on my iMac HDD and last week I took it out and installed an SSD. I put the HDD in a Dell on Monday morning and ran Spinrite on it, correcting the bad sector.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/49002863/MacRumors/SpinriteImages/Screen%20Shot%202013-02-22%20at%205.51.03%20PM.png

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/49002863/MacRumors/SpinriteImages/Screen%20Shot%202013-02-22%20at%205.51.17%20PM.png

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/49002863/MacRumors/SpinriteImages/2013-02-28-16-24-42.jpg

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/49002863/MacRumors/SpinriteImages/2013-02-28-16-24-21.jpg

Iulian81
Mar 2, 2013, 11:38 AM
SMART isn't exactly very smart as evidenced by the quoted text below. However, if you are getting a reading from SMART, then your HDD is likely in need of serious attention.



Above text from Steve Gibson of the podcast Security Now (http://www.grc.com/securitynow.htm), episode 385 (transcript (http://www.grc.com/sn/sn-385.htm))

I use a PC DOS-based program called Spinrite (http://www.grc.com/spinrite.htm) as a maintenance utility and data recovery utility on all my HDD's. You have to have an IBM-PC in order to use it though. You take the HDD out of the Mac and connect it to the IBM-PC and run the program. Below is my old MBP HDD in a Dell PC with Spinrite (http://www.grc.com/spinrite.htm) working on it.

Independent review of Spinrite (http://www.troyandjessica.com/geekspeak/reviews/spinrite) (not me)

Image (https://dl.dropbox.com/u/49002863/MacRumors/SpinriteImages/IMG_2003.JPG)

Image (https://dl.dropbox.com/u/49002863/MacRumors/SpinriteImages/IMG_2004.JPG)

YouTube: video (http://youtube.com/watch?v=4x_KlRlcqNI)

The SMART Utility (http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/24875/smart-utility), for OS X, was indicating a bad sector on my iMac HDD and last week I took it out and installed an SSD. I put the HDD in a Dell on Monday morning and ran Spinrite on it, correcting the bad sector.

Image (https://dl.dropbox.com/u/49002863/MacRumors/SpinriteImages/Screen%20Shot%202013-02-22%20at%205.51.03%20PM.png)

Image (https://dl.dropbox.com/u/49002863/MacRumors/SpinriteImages/Screen%20Shot%202013-02-22%20at%205.51.17%20PM.png)

Image (https://dl.dropbox.com/u/49002863/MacRumors/SpinriteImages/2013-02-28-16-24-42.jpg)

Image (https://dl.dropbox.com/u/49002863/MacRumors/SpinriteImages/2013-02-28-16-24-21.jpg)

Isn't easier to install Windows and then run a Checkdisk with Repairing error option... ?? I don't know what is now in Win 7 or 8 but older versions did have these kind of stuff...

SandboxGeneral
Mar 2, 2013, 11:42 AM
Isn't easier to install Windows and then run a Checkdisk with Repairing error option... ?? I don't know what is now in Win 7 or 8 but older versions did have these kind of stuff...

Chkdsk does do a very similar function, but isn't nearly as thorough and robust as Spinrite.

TheRealDamager
Mar 2, 2013, 11:46 AM
This is great info, but wouldn't it be WAY simpler and easier to just buy a replacement $50 drive?

Senseotech
Mar 2, 2013, 12:54 PM
Chkdsk does do a very similar function, but isn't nearly as thorough and robust as Spinrite.

It also likely wouldn't do squat to the partition with OS X on it. Seriously OP, I've seen enough drive failures to know, as soon as you have a single inkling of suspicion, replace it rather than come on here and ask for help then tell us we're all wrong.

Iulian81
Mar 2, 2013, 02:41 PM
This is great info, but wouldn't it be WAY simpler and easier to just buy a replacement $50 drive?

Where did u find a 50$ hdd for this kind of mac?? Alibaba.com ??

TheRealDamager
Mar 2, 2013, 02:47 PM
You'll have to do your own research - I was quoting Brian Y from above. Just from a very quick search I see 60GB at $40-50 and 120GB at $70-80.

It almost doesn't matter what the cost is - YOU ARE GOING TO LOSE YOUR DATA. We've all tried to help and warn you - now you need to decide whether to take the advice or conclude that you know better.

Jessica Lares
Mar 2, 2013, 03:03 PM
Get a SSD. I wouldn't trust a 1.8" HDD drive, especially since most of the ones you'll find online would have been sitting around for a very long time now because it's not a standard drive that any computer that has been made in the last few years has shipped with. It'll be a little more money, but it's going to be worth it.

I have a tablet PC with the same drive, and it too ended up with SMART errors. You're having so many issues with freezing that it's definitely the hard drive that needs to be replaced. SMART errors are okay to ignore when they come up and there's no symptoms of imminent failure, but in your case there is, and you NEED to replace it.