Mac hard drive test software - creating the definitive list

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by ZVH, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. ZVH, Feb 17, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2014

    ZVH macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2012
    I'm putting together a list of drive testing and repair tools for reference. This list is not complete because I'm only listing products that I'm either familiar with and/or generally have a good reputation. This doesn't mean there aren't other tools out there, and I'm hoping that we can put together a list of drive tools, and maybe in a different thread, a list of hardware testing tools. There are some similar lists on the web and even in different threads on this site, but they seem dated, and a lot of the tools in those reviews have been updated and enhanced. Please feel free to chime in with other tools and/or features for any of the tools I've listed that I might have missed.

    The purpose of this thread is **not** to review them, because everyone will have a different idea about what's good and bad. Additionally, almost all of the tools are different from one another, although some may have overlapping functionality. The purpose is to generally describe what the tools do.


    Disk Tools Pro ($79.99)
    Added 4/11/14

    Disk Utility, diskutil (FREE, comes with OS)
    Comes with OS X

    Disk Warrior ($99.00)

    Drive Genius($99.00)

    TechTool Pro ($99.99)

    Scannerz with Phoenix and FSE-Lite, Scannerz Lite ($39.95, $21.95 respectively)
    This was updated on 6/27/13 because they added a product called "Phoenix" to the package, with a second update on 8/15/13 because they added another product called "Performance Probe" to it.

    smartmontools(FREE, open source)

    SmartReporter ($4.95, but FREE version exists)


    Disk Utility, diskutil (FREE, comes with OS)
    Smartmon Tools (FREE, Open Source)
    SMARTReporter ($4.95 for commercial version, but an older version is FREE)
    Scannerz Lite ($21.95)
    Scannerz with Phoenix and FSE-Lite ($39.95)
    Disk Tools Pro ($79.99)
    Disk Warrior ($99.00)
    Drive Genius ($99.00)
    TechTool Pro ($99.99)

    Tools can be broken down into two classes:

    • General or Multi-purpose Tools
    • Specific Tools

    My observation has been that the General or Multi-Purpose Tools do a (hopefully!) decent job of doing many different things, whereas those categorized as Specific Tools focus on doing a limited number of tasks, but do it above and beyond what the general purpose tools have to offer.

    The tools in the list above can be broken down as follows:

    General/Multi-Purpose Tools

    Dist Tools Pro
    Disk Utility, diskutil
    Drive Genius
    TechTool Pro

    Specific Tools

    Disk Warrior
    Scannerz with Phoenix and FSE-Lite, Scannerz Lite
    Smartmon Tools

    Product Descriptions (alphabetical order)
    Disk Tools Pro - This is a multifunctional tool that is advertised as doing the following:
    • Mac defrag to defragment your files
    • Create bootable Mac backups
    • Find and fix bad disk sectors on your Mac
    • Repair volumes
    • Receive S.M.A.R.T. alerts
    • Utility to test disk integrity
    • Benchmark your volumes
    • Analyze drive capacity
    • Repair damaged preference files
    • Monitor your CPU
    • Find and repair broken aliases

    I'm not familiar with this tool, but if you follow the thread down to the post dated Feb. 7, 2014 by giffut he has a more detailed write up.

    Disk Utility, diskutil - Disk Utility is the tool provided with OS X to configure drives and volumes, and do limited repair work on drives. It has a command line version named "diskutil" that many people are not aware of. Both tools can do the following:

    • Partition, format, or repartition a drive
    • Mount and unmount drives and volumes
    • Create and manage disk images
    • Create an Apple RAID
    • Enable/disable journalling
    • Correct and/or verify indexing
    • Restore a drive
    • Zero out a drive or unused portions of a drive
    • Verify and/or correct permissions settings on a drive

    The command line version (diskutil) is more capable than the GUI version (Disk Utility.) Currently, configuring CoreStorage must be done using diskutil, but I assume this will change in the future. Neither tools perform surface scans on a drive, and when one uses the "Repair Disk" option, it's working on the index files, not actual drive problems. I would strongly recommend that anyone interested open up a session and type "man diskutil" to see its full functionality.

    Disk Warrior - Disk Warrior has one purpose and one purpose only: To fix indexing problems on a hard drive that Disk Utility and diskutil cannot and in the process, recover what may be lost files.

    If you've ever had problems booting your system, run Disk Utility on it, and it said that the drive could not be repaired and you should back up what you can, reformat, and then re-install the data, it's likely your index files which locate the data on the drive have become corrupt. This is one of the major types of problems that Disk Warrior can fix, assuming the drive itself isn't damaged. This software attempts to create a new set of index files based on what's already on the drive and install it in place of the original index. The only caveat is that if you're mixing Windows (or other non-Mac formats) with it, it likely won't be able to help you. As another poster has pointed out, this product still uses a 32 bit format and may have problems with some very large drives. (See post by TVALLEAU on April 14, 2014)

    Drive Genius - Drive Genius is a multi-purpose tool that is advertised as doing the following:

    • SMART Monitoring
    • Defragmentation
    • Disk services such as formatting, repartitioning, and zeroing a drive
    • Data recovery
    • Directory rebuild (64 bit)
    • Basic surface scanning
    • Index and permissions repair
    • Find duplicate files on the hard drive
    • Do performance testing on a drive
    • Drive cloning
    • Directory reconstruction

    Some of the tasks Drive Genius performs are obviously available using Disk Utility or its command line counterpart, diskutil, however, others, such as defragmentation, finding duplicate files on a drive, surface scanning, performance testing, and drive cloning are not. I would view this tool as a superset replacement, for the most part, for Disk Utility.

    TechTool Pro - TechTool Pro is a multi-purpose tool that is advertised as doing the following:

    • SMART Monitoring
    • Basic surface scanning
    • System optimization
    • Memory tests
    • Video tests
    • Drive cloning
    • Index repair and file system/directory recovery (64 bit)
    • Defragmentation
    • Network monitoring

    This tool has similarities and differences with the other multi-purpose tools, Drive Genius, Disk Utility, and diskutil. Whereas Drive Genius tends to focus more on the drive and what's on it, this tool tends to be more system hardware oriented because it can perform hardware tests on RAM, the video subsystem, as well as the drive, and can do some LAN monitoring

    Scannerz with Phoenix and FSE-Lite, Scannerz Lite - Scannerz with Phoenix, Performance Probe, and FSE or FSE-Lite is a hard drive and system diagnostic package that is used to find hard drive problems that are either emerging or already exist, and can isolate other problems that act like hard drive problems or cause system bottlenecks. These guys keep adding stuff to the package as free updates and this is the third time I've needed to update what they have.

    Scannerz is the drive scanning tool and can identify both drive problems and other problems with the system like bad cables. FSE-Lite is a basic file system events monitor and can be upgraded to the enhanced version named FSE. Both tools can be used to track file system activity. Phoenix is a tool this company added in late June of 2013. Phoenix allows a user to extract the operating system from a working OS X bootable volume and clone it to what's called a Phoenix Boot volume, perform basic cloning, and re-install the OS from a Phoenix Boot Volume if needed. Performance Probe was added in August of 2013 and is a load monitor that can help see when a system is being loaded for some reason…it's sort of like a "performance meter" for your system.

    Scannerz Lite is a reduced version of Scannerz and does not include any other tools. You cannot troubleshoot anything with this as their is no cursory mode testing. It's advertised as being a tool for people that want to just find out whether or not their drive has problems. It is, however, inexpensive.

    The following list of advertised features will focus on Scannerz with Phoenix, Performance Probe, and FSE-Lite and any interested parties should visit the web site for details regarding the differences between Scannerz with Phoenix, Performance Probe, and FSE-Lite/FSE and Scannerz Lite.
    Scannerz with Phoenix and FSE-Lite is advertised as being capable of doing the following:

    • Identification of bad sectors on a drive
    • Identification of weak sectors on a drive
    • Triggering SMART status updates on fault detection (drive dependent)
    • Report SMART status failures during test (but only reports failures, not details)
    • Identification of applications utilizing excessive file resources (via FSE-LIte/FSE)
    • Detection of problems with cables, logic board problems or other faults
    • Detection of performance degradation due to system problems
    • Volume cloning via Phoenix
    • Essentially a system restore via Phoenix
    • OS extraction to a so called Phoenix Boot Volume
    • Performance monitoring with Performance Probe.

    smartmontools - This is a set of cross platform, open source, SMART monitoring tools. These are command line tools and must be run from a session. The two primary tools in the package are "smartctl" which can report on SMART status of a drive instantaneously, and "smartd" which is a daemon process that can be set up to monitor the SMART status of drives periodically. The standard download is in source code and needs to be built by the user, but there are pre-built binaries on the web. The SMART reporting is extremely thorough. The product uses a database of drives that's updated periodically and may need the

    There are several GUI interfaces available for this, but most of them appear to be Unix/Linux oriented and likely rely on the presence of X-Windows and it's development libraries on the system.

    SmartReporter - There are commercial and free versions of this tool available, although the free version may be outdated. This product interacts with the OS X operating system's own SMART monitoring capabilities and then reports the output to the user. The interface is completely graphical and the tool can be set up to operate in a daemon mode to warn a user if a drive has suffered a serious SMART failure, whereas Disk Utility and diskutil will only do it when the application is actually used.

    A word about SMART testing:
    SMART testing typically isn't available on USB or FireWire drives, but it may be available on some Thunderbolt external drives and drives directly or indirectly using SATA or eSata interfaces.
  2. MacRobert10 macrumors 6502

    Nov 24, 2012
    Might be the wrong place to ask this, but what the H*ll is "MacKeeper?"

    I'm sure you've all seen it. It has 2 types of ads. One is a robot peering out from behind a computer image that looks suspiciously like TTP, and then of course the other one is one with a large spinning beach ball saying something like "speed up your Mac" or "Mac slowing down?" After seeing all these ads, here's what I've concluded:


    I'm suspicious of this product for the following reasons:
    1. It's using targeted internet searches that are "hunting me down"
    2. The product description isn't particularly clear
    3. They're pushing a free download while obviously spending lots of money on ads
    4. I've never really seen a review of it anywhere. And I mean ANYWHERE. Not even in posts on the numerous sites I visit.

    When I see something like this my immediate impression is that it's some type of marketing scheme that's going to install adware, salesware, or some type of tracking info on my system.

    Might just be me being paranoid. Any one actuallly know what this stuff does and if its safe to use?
  3. simsaladimbamba, Feb 17, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013


    Nov 28, 2010
    It promises to clean your Mac and provide maintenance for it, the intrusive ads are just a sign of how bad they are, since word of mouth does not seem to work for them. Stay away from it.

    Articles explaining why Mac OS X does not need maintenance software like CCleaner, MacKeeper or CleanMyMac:

    MacKeeper threads from 2011, 2012 and 2013:

    And kudos to ZVH, that is one hell of a guide. I make sure to link to it in my dreaded replies about that battery virus.
  4. spork183 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2006
    Whoa, not sure if I'm more amazed at the time you put into compiling it, or the time I put into reading it... ;)
  5. Les Kern macrumors 68040

    Les Kern

    Apr 26, 2002

    I'll tell you what it does... it destroys Macs. Took me awhile to discover just what it was doing and why it was the absolute worst product of its kind for the Mac since version 4 of Norton Utilities. Read what simsaladimbamba posted and stay the hell away.

    DiskWarrior has consistently been my savior.
  6. TheBSDGuy macrumors 6502

    Jan 24, 2012
    High Praise Indeed, for the makers of MacKeeper! :)

    After reading their obnoxious pop-up ads, you have no idea what the product does!

    I myself use Scannerz with FSE (the full version), Disk Warrior, and smartmontools. I typically only bother with SMART checking if I think there's a problem. If you go to the link for SMARTReporter, even they acknowledge SMART has its weaknesses. I really don't have much use for the add-ons offered by TTP or DW, especially at those prices.
  7. TheBSDGuy macrumors 6502

    Jan 24, 2012
    Forgive my being relatively new to this site, but what's a "battery virus?"
  8. ZVH thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2012
    I was sort of hoping people could add other products or clarify the list I have.

    I have and use Scannerz with FSE too, which is why it's explanation might be a bit more detailed. I have an old (and I mean OLD) copy of TTP for PPC systems that's too outdated to use a a reference so I used their web site. Are the lists for other products up to date and clear? Namely TTP, Disk Warrior, and Drive Genius?

    Please don't turn this into a food fight over MacKeeper. There's tons of bad reports on it all over the place. The fact it was left off the list was not accidental.
  9. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    It's an inside joke. :)
  10. TheBSDGuy macrumors 6502

    Jan 24, 2012

    I thought maybe there was some claim in "Mac Keeper" that they could fix the dreaded battery virus!:eek::eek::eek::eek:


    The tools in your list are all good tools. It's a good list with a lot of variety, and I'd like to add you seem to have managed to eliminate some of the "crap" that's out there.
  11. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    I wouldn't be surprised. They "claim" a lot of things in their pervasive attempts to sell their UselessWare.
  12. ZVH thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2012
    Anyone know anything about a utility called SMART Reporter?
  13. SandboxGeneral Moderator emeritus


    Sep 8, 2010
    Yes. What would you like to know?

    Here is a quick analysis on why S.M.A.R.T. isn't exactly so smart.

    Above text from Steve Gibson of the podcast Security Now, episode 385 (transcript)
  14. TheBSDGuy, Mar 7, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013

    TheBSDGuy macrumors 6502

    Jan 24, 2012

    Not to name names, but some applications are, if I recall correctly, nothing more than an interface for smartmontools monitoring output, smartctl. You would need to check that out by right clicking on the application and drilling down to Contents->MacOS and see if smartctl resides there. It may be renamed, but run it under a terminal window and, if this is the application I think it is, it will behave exactly like smartctl.

    If this is the application I think it is, when it's trial period expires and it wants payment, if you click on the "buy it now" button, or whatever, and then back out, some type of adware kicks in and locks up your machine until you pay them (a software ransom demand???? :eek::eek::eek:). The other options are to turn the system off via a forced power down or do a remote login and try to find the process pulling the stunt. It also disguises the adware, which is really a compressed binary with an "official" sounding name, as in "don't delete this precious file" and when the trial period ends, it uncompresses and untars it and activates it.

    It's a great theory - tick off potential customers by locking up their systems!:mad:

    ZVH, since you're a Scannerz user (I assume NOT Scannerz Lite) you've got FSE or FSE-Lite. If your feeling in a daredevil mode with this or any other obscure program you're testing, do the following:

    1. Start FSE or FSE-Lite in full logging mode with a log file active - you might want to drag ALL your drives to the Spotlight excluded area in system preferences to stop Spotlight from kicking in on them in the event it simply decides to kick in. Spotlight can generate a ton of file system events and it will be harder to tell those generated by the suspect. Also completely close all other applications. FSE/FSE-Lite will then likely be able to report only on file system events associated with the install.
    2. Start logging on FSE/FSE-Lite to a file. You can choose the name with FSE, I don't think you can with FSE-Lite.
    3. Unpack/install the test application.
    4. Stop FSE/FSE-Lite logging and terminate the app.
    5. Open up the FSE/FSE-Lite log file and review it, particularly the file writes.
    6. You'll see some files installed that have names that look very official, like "" or something like that (I don't remember).
    7. Using a terminal session, navigate to that file and type "file <name of file>" where <name of file> is the real name without the <> characters.
    8. 50 bucks says you'll find either zipped or gzipped tar files, and if you untar them, guess what? They're applications. Not ANY applications, adware applications.

    You might want to try this on an external test drive with all other drives unmounted in case the adware tries to install itself EVERYWHERE.

    Regarding professionalism, consider this:

    1. Do the guys that make Scannerz do this? NOPE!
    2. Do the guys that make TechTool Pro do this? NOPE!
    3. Do the guys that make Disk Warrior do this? NOPE!
    4. Do the guys that make Drive Genius do this? NOPE!
    5. Do the guys that make smartmontools (open source) do this? NOPE!
    6. Do the guys that make SMARTReporter do this? NOPE!

    What does that tell you?????

    Regarding Sandbox General's comments:

    SMART is a reporting technology, not a testing technology that goes out and finds problems. SMART is implemented inconsistently from not only manufacturer to manufacturer, but also from product line to product line within a manufacturers various lines. To properly understand SMART requires a fairly high degree of skill regarding both it's limitations and what it's actually reporting.

    For example, I have a system that had a moderate head crash, the drive was re-formatted and zeroed which forced the bad sectors to be re-mapped, and the drive has been working successfully now for over 3 years. SMART tests, using products that display failures with graphs, consistently report the drive as being in a state of near failure - and they've been doing that ever since the head crash - but the unit is and has been working fine.

    Is SMART useless? No, I don't think so, but I think those using it really need to understand it's strengths and limitations. Even SMART Reporter has dialogs on its web site talking about this.
  15. SandboxGeneral Moderator emeritus


    Sep 8, 2010
    That's precisely what I was saying with my quoted text. I know what SMART is and what it does. I wasn't saying it was useless, but rather that it's not what it could be and can still be used as a means of a potential warning for drive failure. I don't trust SMART to warn me about my drives which is why I take a proactive approach to them.

    More often than not, drives fail without SMART ever reporting a problem. That is why I say SMART isn't exactly smart. But in the event SMART does report something, I'd be very cautious and ensure my stuff is backed and then take measures to correct the drive failure, if possible.

    Again, SMART really can only give a more accurate reading when the drive is under a read/write load across the whole disk. Most users don't write to the whole disk at once while also watching a SMART monitor. So SMART technology has been flawed since it's inception.
  16. TheBSDGuy macrumors 6502

    Jan 24, 2012
    To change the subject a little, I visited a "patch" web site and was immediately hit with yet another Mac Keeper ad (for those of you outside the US, "Patch" is a network of essentially local web based online newspapers). On viewing this the following occurred to me:

    1. Threats sell
    2. Mac Keeper must be spending a fortune on advertising.
    3. There are a lot of gullible people out there.

    These guys are either funded by the dumbest group of venture capitalists in the world, or they're actually successfully pushing the product. I suspect it's the latter. How much does internet advertising like this cost? I would think it would be a fortune. Mac Keeper, whether you think it's crap or not is EVERYWHERE!!

    The focus of their ads always seems to be that there's some sort of "threat" out there that people need to be aware of. Is there? It's news to me! There are probably anywhere from tens of thousands to possibly hundreds of thousands of problems with Windows, but the confirmed problems on Mac's are what...2 or 3?

    This is remarkable. Threats sell.
  17. MacRobert10 macrumors 6502

    Nov 24, 2012
    Mac Keeper ads are everywhere. The various sites being visited can report the OS and that must trigger a Mac Keeper ad. I find it interesting that a lot of commercial sites that run ads won't say anything bad about it but users will.

    I don't know anything about internet advertising but it must be costing a fortune.
  18. MacRobert10 macrumors 6502

    Nov 24, 2012
    Here's a new one for you guys, since MacKeeper seems to be a secondary topic. I was checking out what appeared to be demo-ware today, so I did a Google and found a site that said they had it. I click on the link to download, up comes an ad saying I need to fill out a form with personal information before I can proceed. I close the window figuring maybe this was a scam site.

    Guess what happens? The site launches an automatic download of MacKeeper and then informs me I must install it now.

    I moved it to the trash and did a secure delete.
  19. TheBSDGuy macrumors 6502

    Jan 24, 2012
    I visited the AppStore today and noticed that none, and I mean none of these tools are sold there. Apparently the reason is because anything that needs admin privileges is not allowed there. I surely hope the "wave of the future" from Apple isn't to disallow stuff like this. If they do I'll surely move back to FreeBSD or Linux.
  20. grahamperrin macrumors 601


    Jun 8, 2007
  21. ZVH thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2012
    I don't consider installing KEXT drivers into the kernel to be a "normal" operation, but it is worth pointing out. A lot of ML users are running into problems with various KEXT files. On some external drives, the drives crash or do strange things, like fall asleep in the middle of a write operation. Others might cause the system to slow to a crawl. Before going the KEXT route someone should clarify this works properly on ML. Mountain Lion, unfortunately, seems to have a myriad of bugs all by itself and doesn't need help creating more problems from outside sources!:rolleyes: (that was my idea of a joke:D)
  22. MacRobert10, Apr 20, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2013

    MacRobert10 macrumors 6502

    Nov 24, 2012

    I took a quick look at your link and all I could tell was that this more or less extended SMART for stuff like Disk Utility. Scannerz, Disk Utility, and, I believe, SMARTReporter all use what I'd call threshold SMART reporting, meaning they don't report details (SMARTReporter shows a little more detail than Disk Utility or Scannerz, but not a complete list of details) thus I assume all three would be compatible with this, whereas smartmontools can report a lot more.

    Do you have any idea if this driver is compatible with smartmontools? For drive testing I use Scannerz. Scannerz does extremely thorough surface scans and can clearly catch other problems other products miss, but their lack of SMART reporting isn't an asset (Scannerz could win 2 awards: #1: Most thorough drive scanning for Mac's, #2 Most boring product on the market...if your drive has no problems, it will literally cure insomnia LOL.) Now I know there are lots of articles out there that more or less claim SMART reporting is somewhat useless or misleading, but I'd like to think I'm SMART :D enough to use smartmontools to interpret detailed SMART the number of sectors re-mapped to spare blocks. Granted, it isn't necessarily an indication of immanent failure, but it would sort of be nice to know, IMHO.
  23. ZVH thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2012
    Out of curiosity, in your work bench at home, is the hammer wearing a bow tie? Are there stockings on each handle for a set of pilers? My point is a tool is a tool. The version of TechTool Pro that I had would do a little sweeping radar like image, and it would look cool ....... for about 3 minutes, then even that's boring.

    A drive test takes a long time. I'm not going to sit in front of my computer and actually waste my time watching one occur. What I do is set the error limit on Scannerz at 1, start or restart the test as needed, and leave. If it hits an error it will stop right where the error occurred. If its taking too long, I'll just stop it and continue it later. I usually do this sort of thing over lunch.

    Regardless of the product, why would anyone want to actually sit in front of a computer and watch a test app droll out data for maybe hours on end?
  24. MacRobert10 macrumors 6502

    Nov 24, 2012
    YES!!! As a matter of fact, I go out shopping every weekend to find stylish outfits for all the tools I have...neckties for the hammer, hot looking leg warmers for that oh so sexy pair of pliers, and my plumbing wrenches...only the finest in lingerie from Frederick's of Hollywood! :D

    All kidding aside, TechTool Pro has a better looking interface. Don't you think Scannerz would probably sell better if it looked better? I hate to say it, and sure, the TTP interface will wear off once someone knows what's going on, but from a marketing standpoint, don't you think Scannerz would attract more buyers if it looked better?

    And what about smartmontools? A command line interface in a GUI age? Even Linux has GUIs. I know the tool is open source so I assume no one is making money off of it, but wouldn't people be more aware of it and use it if it at least had some type of user friendly interface???? Maybe there's one out there for it for the Mac, but I don't know of any.
  25. ZVH thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2012
    Guys on web sites kill me. They come to a site like this and offer up what I guess are "suggestions" to the manufacturer, when the manufacturer is likely oblivious to what they're saying. If you have suggestions to improve a product, contact the vendor. What good does it do posting this stuff here. Likewise smartmontools is open source. Perhaps YOU could do the GUI for them???:cool:

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