Storage media of all kinds is consumable. To put it simply, it will fail one day. To keep ahead of the game, there are plenty of ways to check your SSD health on the Mac. Here we show you how to check your SSD health on your Mac and also take a quick look at some third-party tools to help you.
What Is Disk Health?
Spinning HDD drives have a failure curve sometimes described as a “bathtub.” When you first get an HDD, there’s a high chance of failure thanks to so-called Dead On Arrival (DOA) units. If the drive spins up properly, it will likely last for years before suffering wear-based failure.
In other words, there’s a high chance of failure at the beginning and end of a drive’s service life (i.e. the walls of the bathtub). In contrast, there’s a relatively low rate of failure in the middle (i.e. the base of the bathtub).
On the other hand, SSDs show a different failure curve. They still have the same high rates of early failure. but the flash memory used in SSDs can only survive a certain number of write cycles. When it reaches the limit, it will suffer total failure and no data recovery is possible. As such, it pays to keep an eye on the health of a drive that might fail without warning.
You can predict and plan for both failure types in advance based on certain characteristic failure patterns. Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART) is an automated self-test system for SSDs and more traditional HDDs. This helps macOS keep track of the SMART status of all your drives by default, and there are several tools that read this status with varying levels of detail.
Check Your SSD Health Using SMART Status System Reports
The process to check your SSD health on your Mac is straightforward and takes about a minute.
1. Click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner (in the toolbar), then hold the Option key. You’ll see “About this Mac” change to “System Information.”
2. When the screen opens, find the Storage panel under the Hardware section in the left-hand tree directory:
3. Next, select the drive you want to examine from the list on the right side.
4. You’ll find the SMART status at the bottom of the right panel, often as the last item in the list.
“Verified” in this instance means the drive has no reported problems. “Failing” means the drive has an error that will soon become “Fatal”. SMART’s numerical error code system provides more information about the drive’s specific calamity, but the broad headline delivered by macOS is enough for guessing how soon a drive will fail.
Check Your SSD Health Using smartmontools
If you have Homebrew installed, you can install
smartmontools to check the SSD health on your Mac. This will display the SMART status through the Terminal.
1. Open your chosen Terminal and run the following command to install smartmontools with Homebrew:
brew install smartmontools
2. Next, run
diskutil list to find the drive identifier for the volume you want to test:
As an aside, you can also find the drive identifier in System Information by looking for the BSD Name.
3. run the following command to get the SMART status for the specified drive:
smartctl -a disk1s2
Note that you’ll want to replace the placeholder BSD name with your own. Regardless, this will produce a detailed SMART report in standard output.
If you want to save the SMART report to disk, you can send it to a text file using the
> control character:
smartctl -a disk1s2 > diskhealthreport.txt
This report will offer a detailed look at the drive’s health. The most relevant data is the verdict, which appears halfway down the report. At the bottom, the vendor-specific SMART status can provide a glimpse into the drive’s deeper condition.
Check Your SSD Health with DriveDx
If you’ d like a premium solution to check your SSD health on your Mac, DriveDx is a good option.
It’s a drive diagnostic tool that provides the most detailed picture of your SSD’s health. This app can scan all of your connected drives and provide a complete picture of your storage system’s health.
While the app is open, it continually monitors the SMART status for indication of failure or problems. It’s the easiest way to a detailed picture of your disk’s health without sifting through technical logs.
It’s a good idea to carry out a casual check of your SSD health for your Mac, but it shouldn’t be an obsession. The above methods allow you to quickly check your SSD health on your Mac.
If you’re still running an HDD and want to upgrade, we can show you how to do it.
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