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Checking the SMART details of a hard drive with an Ubuntu Boot CD

S.M.A.R.T. is a self monitoring and reporting tool built into every modern hard drive. Did you know that you can use an ubuntu linux boot cd to check that smart status and run SMART tests on your drive? This is the same boot cd that you can use to test out or install the ubuntu linux environment, but you can do the SMART testing without installing linux on your hard drive.

How?

To start out you need an ubuntu boot cd, then you’ll need to put the cd in the drive and reboot your machine. You may need to adjust boot options in bios (or if there is a message that says for other boot device press f12 you may need to press f12 to make the system boot from cd.) When the system boots open up a terminal window (Applications/Accessories/Terminal) Type in the following

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install smartmontools

(Smartmontools is the package for smart monitoring and reporting under linux.)

After that’s successfully done you should be able to use the same terminal window to type…

sudo smartctl -a /dev/sda (or /dev/hda) and get a detailed report of all SMART info on your first hard drive.

If you want to do a test you can do the following
sudo smartctl -t short /dev/sda
or
sudo smartctl -t long /dev/sda

the short test is usually a two minute test, the long test can take an hour or so.

After the test runs you can return to the command above:
sudo smartctl -a /dev/sda
to see the status of all the parameters that are tracked on your hard drive as well as the testing log.

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Posted by on January 12, 2009.

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