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 SSD health on your Mac and also take a quick look at some third-party tools to help you.
Tip: having trouble deciding how much storage you need on your Mac? Take a glance at our guide to ensure you make the correct decision.
What Is Disk Health?
Spinning Hard Disk Drives, or HDDs, 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 properly, it will likely last for years before suffering wear-based failure or require a repair.
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, Solid State Drives, or SSDs, show a different failure curve, as they do not have any moving parts, and are thus, more reliable, thanks to flash memory. To clarify, SSDs 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 could fail without warning.
Good to know: if you are having trouble reading and writing files on your Mac, try exploring some ways to fix Mac error code 50.
Disk Health Monitoring With S.M.A.R.T.
You can predict and plan for both failure types in advance, based on certain characteristic failure patterns. Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T.) is an automated self-test system for SSDs and more traditional HDDs. This helps macOS keep track of the S.M.A.R.T. status of all your drives by default, and several tools read this status with varying levels of detail.
How to Check SSD Health Using S.M.A.R.T. Status System Reports
The process to check your SSD health on your Mac is straightforward and takes about a minute:
- Click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the Menu Bar, then hold the option key. You’ll see “About this Mac” change to “System Information.”
- When the screen opens, find the “Storage” panel under the Hardware section in the tree directory on the left.
- Select the drive you want to examine from the list on the right side.
- You’ll find the “SMART Status” at the bottom of the right panel, often as the last item in the list.
“Verified” means the drive has no reported problems. “Failing” means that the drive has an error that will soon become “Fatal.” S.M.A.R.T.’s numerical error code system provides more information about the drive’s specific calamity, but the broad headline delivered by macOS is adequate for guessing how soon a drive will fail.
Tip: install a new SSD in your Mac? To maximize performance, it’s important to understand how to enable TRIM for third-party SSDs on Mac.
How to 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 S.M.A.R.T. status through the Terminal.
- Open Terminal and run the following command to install “smartmontools” with Homebrew:
brew install smartmontools
diskutil listto 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 locating “BSD Name.”
- Run the following command to get the S.M.A.R.T. status for the specified drive:
Note: you need to replace the placeholder BSD name with your own. Regardless, this will produce a detailed S.M.A.R.T. report in standard output.
- If you want to save the S.M.A.R.T. report to disk, send it to a text file using the
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 S.M.A.R.T. status can provide a glimpse into the drive’s deeper condition.
Good to know: looking to do more with your Mac? Be sure to check out how to use the macOS Terminal.
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 S.M.A.R.T. status for indications of failure or problems. It’s the easiest way to get a detailed picture of your disk’s health without sifting through technical logs.
Tip: if your Mac has become unresponsive or slow, you may want to consider clearing the data on your Mac’s SSD by factory resetting your Mac.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the typical lifespan of an SSD?
The ability of solid-state drives to store data indefinitely is one of the most frequently misunderstood myths concerning Solid State Drives. All storage drives eventually fail, and SSDs are no exception. SLC (single-level cell) SSDs are the most durable type of SSD and can last for up to 10 years. MLC (multi-level cell) SSDs are less durable than SLC SSDs but can still last for five to seven years. TLC (triple-level cell) SSDs are the least durable type of SSD and can only last between three and five years.
Can I test the speed of an SSD?
SSD write speed describes how quickly data is recorded onto the storage drive, whereas SSD read speed determines how quickly data on the drive is read. Depending on the interface used and the type of production, your SSDs may vary in speed. To measure and certify disk performance concerning high-quality video recording, Blackmagic Disk Speed Test from the App Store is a useful tool that can provide quick help.
When should I replace my SSD?
When your SSD is in danger of failure, or if you’ve owned one for more than five years, it would be best to buy a replacement. Installing software to check your drive and silently monitoring it for problems is the most efficient, reliable way of determining whether a drive is running smoothly.
Image credit: Pexels. All screenshots by Farhad Pashaei.
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