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SMART Diagnostics: Monitor the Status of Your Hard Drive

SMART, also known as Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology, is a capability implemented in all modern hard drives and as its main function provides the device with status monitoring. You can use this function to protect your hard drive from unexpected data loss. When used with additional software, this function can give the users the possibility of monitoring and foreseeing eminent hard disk failures.

If you wish to use this function, you do not need to buy software as you can use the BIOS (Basic Input/ Output System) from the motherboard, which usually has SMART monitoring system implemented in it. By using this, it interprets the information from the hard drives present in the system and will issue messages to the user to inform them of any possible problems.

In most cases, this function is disabled and does not load at start up. The main reason for this is that it will lead to a rising in the boot time needed by the system to load and it is not seen as a top priority.

What you need to keep in mind is that the SMART monitoring system is not highly advanced and it will give simple reports. The analysis performed is not in depth. The report will inform you of the hard disk status and if it is in working condition or not using the internal archive and the embedded SMART tools. For a more in depth analysis you should contact a hard disk recovery expert so you can have a more detailed report on your hard drive status.

But how does SMART work? It works by comparing the ideal parameters of a hard drive with those taken from certain areas of the disk in specific circumstances. For example, when writing data to a disk, the SMART monitor will record the time the drive takes to spin up to speed and for the head to begin writing. It will compare them with those present in the factory settings. If there are any discrepancies, then it is an indication that the hard disk is not working properly and that the most probable cause is a problem with the motor of the hard disk.

To turn it on and use it, you need to access your computer’s BIOS system page. To do so, you need to press DEL constantly when the computer powers on, so that you may enter the BIOS settings page. In some cases, instead of DEL, you need to press F2 or F6, or a specific key combination which will allow you to access BIOS. You can usually see it for a fraction of a second when the system loads in the POST screen. When you have accessed the BIOS system page, you should go into the advanced BIOS options section to locate SMART options.

SMART has the functionality to monitor a number of about 30 attributes, but the actual number may vary.  The reason for this is the way the manufacturers of the motherboard and those of the hard disk have worked in creating the system.  You should take in consideration the fact that SMART will not give a complete report containing the drive’s faults and that the variables by which it does its scan are not universal; they are provided by the manufacturer. So, if you want to monitor your computer’s hard disk, it is advisable that you monitor it by using the SMART option along with other options.