How do I interpret SMART diagnostic utilities results?

Discussion of the results third-party SMART monitoring programs can give on Serial ATA drives and how they relate to SeaTools diagnostics.

Serial ATA (SATA) disk drives are constantly monitoring and analyzing their own performance, integrity and environment.  The current state of this technology is the result of more than 20 years of innovative Seagate engineering focused on self-testing.

With the backing of personal computer manufacturers, the disk drive industry adopted an analysis system in the 1990's called Self Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology, or SMART. The idea then and today is to predict a failure before it happens. Various attributes are being monitored and measured against certain threshold limits. If any one attribute exceeds a threshold then a general SMART Status test will change from Pass to Fail.  

Many computers automatically check SMART Status when they start up which is when most people become aware of the issue. If still under warranty, then SMART Status FAIL is a valid condition for warranty replacement.

When a SMART Status test has a FAIL it is extremely important that you back up all of your important data. SMART Status FAIL is a near-term prediction of drive failure and the drive usually functions like normal. Unfortunately, there is no way to specifically predict when the failure will occur, so your best response is to back up your data as soon as possible.

Seagate uses the SeaTools diagnostic software to test the SMART status of the drive. SeaTools does not analyze attributes or thresholds.  As a practical matter, the technology supporting SMART is constantly being improved.  Each new design incorporates improvements that increase the accuracy of the SMART prediction.  As a matter of policy, Seagate does not publish attributes and thresholds.  

Therefore, if you wish to test the drive for physical integrity, please use our SeaTools diagnostic software.

The SMART values that might be read out by third-party SMART software are not based on how the values may be used within the Seagate hard drives. Seagate does not provide support for software programs that claim to read individual SMART attributes and thresholds.  There may be some historical correctness on older drives, but new drives, no doubt, will have incorporated newer solutions, attributes and thresholds.  

Seagate uses the general SMART Status, pass or fail. The individual attributes and threshold values are proprietary and we do not offer a utility that will read out the values. If the values that you are seeing with a third party SMART utility are not displaying properly or seem to be false, please contact your software vendor for further explanation of the values.

Some third-party SMART software programs display a list of attributes that seem to announce or foreshadow a SATA hard drive failure. Some of the most common are:

  • Raw Read Error Rate
  • Raw_Read_Error_Rate
  • Reallocated Sector Count
  • Reallocated_Sector_Count
  • Reallocation Count
  • Reallocation_Count
  • Seek Error Rate
  • Seek_Error_Rate
  • Spin Retry Count
  • Spin_Retry_Count
  • Hardware ECC Recovered
  • Hardware_ECC_Recovered
  • Current Pending Sector
  • Current_Pending_Sector
  • Ultra DMA CRC Error Count
  • Ultra_DMA_CRC_Error_Count
  • Ultra ATA CRC Error Count
  • Ultra_ATA_CRC_Error_Count
  • Offline Uncorrectable Sector Count
  • Offline_Uncorrectable_Sector_Count
  • ECC hardware errors recovered
  • ECC_hardware_errors_recovered
  • Current_Pending_Sector
  • Offline_Uncorrectable
  • ECC Seek Error
  • Pre-Failure: Imminent loss of data is being predicted

Please remember that these third-party programs do not have proprietary access to Seagate hard disk information, and therefore often provide inconsistent and inaccurate results.  SeaTools is more consistent and more accurate and is the standard Seagate uses to determine hard drive failure.