Modern hard disks have a built-in system called SMART for monitoring themselves. SMART makes information on the health of the drive available to the OS. It’s far from perfect, SMART errors don’t always means your drive will die, and not all drive deaths are predicted by SMART but it’s still a good indicator all the same. Now, it’s great having all this SMART data there but it’s no good if no one reads it! OS X CAN read it but it doesn’t do so on an on-going basis. In fact, the only time a default OS X install will read the SMART data is when the Disk Utility app is opened. That’s where SMARTReporter comes in. It polls your SMART data at a given interval (default is once an hour) and lets you know if there’ any problems. It can do this in three ways: it can change the color of an icon in your menu bar, it can pop up a message, and it can send an email. You can choose to have it do all, none, or some of these things. The menu bar icon is perhaps over-kill but some people may find it re-assuring to see a nice health green hard disk icon indicating that SMARTReporter is running and that it has found no errors on any of your drives. As soon as it finds a problem this icon will turn an ominous red color. I’d suggest everyone run this app on their macs but just turn off the menu bar icon. That way it runs totally in the background and totally out-of-sight until there is a problem, which will hopefully never happen! I should also mention that because of limitations with the USB to ATA bridge this will not work with USB hard drives. It will also not work with FireWire drives because Apple’s drivers for FireWire don’t pass on the SMART data. This limits this app to internal ATA(IDE) and SATA drives, i.e. regular internal hard drives. Finally, this app is both free and open source being released under the MIT license.

[tags]Apple, OS X, Hard Disks[/tags]