Just how reliable is SMART status?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by weckart, Jun 23, 2008.

  1. weckart macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004
    I upgraded my Macbook's HD to a WD2500BEVS last year. Yesterday, I noticed in Disk Utility that my HD was in red with a warning that my HD's SMART monitor was reporting an imminent failure. Up to then, I had had no inkling that anything was wrong. No read/seek errors or slowdowns, no clicks. Nada.

    I immediately backed up all my data and checked again. Still the same imminent failure report. Checked with Tech Tool Pro. Same thing. Drew a deep breath and rebooted. No problems or delays on restarting. Same warning.

    Checked on the internet. Seems to be lots of SMART failures with this particular disk. Time to send it back.

    My disk was within warranty, so I got an RMA from WD UK. I would have to send my disk back to them at my expense within 30 days of receipt of the replacement or I get stung for twice its market value ($198 - :eek:).

    Later today, I check again. The SMART status has changed to normal. Check again with TT4. Passes all disk tests with flying colours. Huh?

    Now I know it is best to err on the side of caution, so I am not looking for replies with "back your data up, dude and send it back" for that is what I have done.

    Does anyone have experience of this warning of disaster and dire combustion and yet find his/her disk working regardless? In other words, are WD's prone to giving false positives on the SMART warnings? I might end up having to send back my disk time after time if that is the case.
  2. gr8bob macrumors regular

    May 16, 2008
    I have no idea how reliable WD drives are these days. They seems to have a mind of their own. I own the WD3200BEVT 320GB Scorpio drive instead of the 250GB. Just before I sent it in to the Apple techs, the SMART status reported just fine.. today, I called them up to check on the status (it's been a friggin week and they've just started looking on my machine) and the guy told me that my drive's giving off a SMART failure status.

    I don't know what annoys me more considering that I've never moved the drive while it's spinning -or- the fact that the tech guy told me hard disk failure causes graphic/display glitches. :confused::confused:
  3. weckart thread starter macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004
    Errrgh. I did not want to hear that. I put in that very same drive into my Macbook Pro last week. Contrary to all the guides, opening that baby was anything but a piece of cake. I really do not want to have to open that again because WD cannot get its act together. Damn. Should have held out for the Samsung M6.:mad:
  4. 2112 macrumors member

    May 31, 2002

    More info on S.M.A.R.T. here.
  5. weckart thread starter macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004
    Your link contradicts your assertion that SMART is 'very' reliable, but thanks for googling.

    On the basis that real life empirical testing > Wikipedia, any day, I was really after specific examples, particularly with Scorpio drives.
  6. rhyx macrumors 6502

    Jan 15, 2008
    Return the drive. I've had SMART failures disappear and then come back before. Or more frequently I have a SMART warning and then the drive dies soon.
  7. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    In the one time I had a SMART notice, I backed up the drive and then it failed, so now I believe the notice.
  8. zorinlynx macrumors 603


    May 31, 2007
    Florida, USA
    A SMART failure means the disk is on its way out. Replace it immediately. And verify your backups, as you may need them. A SMART failing disk tends to fail completely DURING that last backup, in my experience, so don't overwrite your CURRENT backup with the failing disk.

    It doesn't work the other way around, though. In fact, most disk failures I've had showed no SMART anomaly before they occurred. The disk just died and I had to replace it. Out of about six total personal disk failuers in my life time, only *one* had a SMART warning before it failed. And it literally ended up failing within the next hour.

    So yes, send it back.
  9. wxboss macrumors member


    May 13, 2006
    Jax, FL
    WD drives have a pretty good track record these days. Your particular drive received good reviews on Newegg. Yet, if you are getting a SMART error, I would start damage control procedures immediately.
  10. lhotka macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2008
    It's not. Google's massive study on hard drive reliability essentially concludes that "SMART isn't".

    There was a great podcast from Steve Gibson (Spinrite) and Leo Laporte on this (available on iTunes at one point) that discusses this in detail.
  11. quagmire macrumors 603


    Apr 19, 2004
    It didn't indicate my 12" Powerbooks HD failing when it did back in January.
  12. 2112 macrumors member

    May 31, 2002
    Indeed, allow me to expand.
    From what I understand and from experience, the standard protocol problem is that SMART takes into account a great number of sensors and statistics and vendors haven't agreed on which ones to use, however, once SMART reports that a disk is about to fail, it will certainly do so (and this is what I meant with 'very').


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