Smart diagnostics for an external HD

  UncleP 17:34 17 Jun 2006

I'm putting together a back-up system which involves storing disk images on a 80Gb hard disk taken from my old WindowsME computer and held in an external USB2 caddy. I would like to monitor the stability of this disk with a Smart utility. Unfortunately the one I downloaded from the WD website for the old computer doesn't work with WindowsXP2 on the new computer.

I've recently downloaded a couple of alternatives which didn't work either. A Google search came up with the opinion that the Smart parameters don't always make it through the USB interface.

Anyone out there with information on up-to-date Smart utilities or an alternative way of achieving the same ends?


  Trackrat 23:19 17 Jun 2006

Give this a try.

click here

  woodchip 23:22 17 Jun 2006

I think you will find that it only works when connected internaly in the Computer on the EIDE line

  woodchip 23:23 17 Jun 2006

This is a BIOS function

  UncleP 02:01 18 Jun 2006

It indicates in your reference that the utility functions with USB external disks, so I checked it out. It will indeed scan these sources, but if you click the Smart button you get a message saying 'Smart function not implemented' or something similar. Nevertheless, thanks for the suggestion.

woodchip: are you saying that in principle it is impossible to access Smart data from an external disk?

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 11:26 18 Jun 2006

SMART ( Self Monitoring Analysis & Reporting Technology ) is an interface between a computer's BIOS (basic input/output system) and the computer hard disk. It is a feature of the Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics (EIDE) technology that controls access to the hard drive. If S.M.A.R.T is enabled when a computer is set up, the BIOS can receive analytical information from the hard drive and determine whether to send the user a warning message about possible future failure of the hard drive.

System requirements

A hard drive and BIOS that supports SMART, plus compatible drivers. Most recent hard drives are OK but drives connected via SCSI or RAID will not work. But drives connected via SATA (serial ATA) are supported.

  woodchip 14:02 18 Jun 2006


  UncleP 00:02 19 Jun 2006

Thanks, chaps. The Smart utilities I tested require the hard disk to be connected directly to an EIDE cable. The basic problem seems to be that the chips converting the HD signals to USB2 do not and cannot read the Smart data output from the on-board electronics.

A real pain - I hesitate to store valuable data on an old disk whose stability I cannot estimate or monitor. Time for a re-think!

  UncleP 23:21 22 Jun 2006

Final comment: a scan of the 80Gb HD showed the presence of bad sectors. Although none of the files stored on it since re-formatting has been corrupted, there is no guarantee that problems will not occur in the foreseeable future. And if these cannot be detected before actual data loss occurs, the HD is effectively unusable for back-up and long-term data storage.

Seems to me that the inability to monitor the Smart data greatly reduces the value of the HD/external USB caddy combination.

  woodchip 23:32 22 Jun 2006

If you used the Windows Disc scanner and put a tick in the repair box. Windows marks out all bad sectores so it does not write to these bad blocks no more

  brundle 23:36 22 Jun 2006

If the data is very important and you use external media, replace the HD every 12 months - I wouldn't trust SMART info via a USB connection personally and the cost of a new 80gb drive is almost ridiculously low these days.

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