Ubuntu SMART disk analysis is slick!

26 12 2009

As soon as Ubuntu detects problems with a hard drive that reports S.M.A.R.T. diagnostics it pops up a warning and the depth of information is impressive. Speedfan has a nice enough analysis of hard drive health, but it is a little arcane. The Ubuntu utility really explains what is going on. It also shows historical ‘watermarks’ where a characteristic went over threshold in the past.

Here are some screen shots of what one can find about a hard drives health status.

Not surprisingly the failing hard drive was replaced and data backed up. Not one piece of user data was lost, as is often the case with failing hard drives, files affected are mostly system/program files. Recovery of data is typically very successful. In this case the user had only 700MB of data on a 500GB drive.

To look at the SMART characteristics of drives attached to an Ubuntu system start the Disk Utility which is located under
System -> Administration -> Disk Utility. This disk utility is a Gnome desktop tool, for those with other variants of linux or Ubuntu with different desktops it can be added to your distribution by installing the application gnome-disk-utility using synaptic package manager or the command line

sudo apt-get install gnome-disk-utility

Update 2010-11-14: Since the introduction of Ubuntu 10.4 the disk utility included in Ubuntu has changed. Screen shots of the new disk utility are included below. The utility provides more information, especially about how the disk partitions are organized. However I have found that once in a while the new utility reports that SMART disk statistics are unavailable for a disk, using Ubuntu 9.10 Live Disk reveals that the SMART statistics are available after all. This is an unfortunate problem with what is a great diagnostic tool, hopefully the drive compatibility will be improved back to its former glory.

Click to enlarge image

Click to enlarge image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To read more about Ubuntu visit





Laptop running slow? Check temperature with Speedfan!

19 12 2009

Computers typically run just fine when you first get them but then slowly degrade. Even after loading Windows 7 as a clean install I was still experiencing a slower laptop than I remembered when I purchased it 2 years ago. Windows startup/login time was just too slow.

Click on image to enlarge

Using Speedfan (download here) I noticed the laptop was running a little hot, about 140°F and the cooling fan was operating all of the time. Speedfan also measures the actual CPU speed and my dual core cpu’s were running at only 900Mhz. The Intel T2080 Dual-Core CPU installed in the laptop is rated at 1.73 Mhz, so I was losing almost 50% of the rated speed.  This additional CPU information is on the new ‘exotics’ tab of Speedfan (see graphic). I replaced the cooling fan with a brand new one I got off eBay for $20 and the laptop is running at full speed now!! (Speedfan CPU numbers are not dynamic like the temperature and other numbers, the speed reported is at the time Speedfan was started. To get a good sample exit and restart Speedfan several times).

Read the rest of this entry »