In my previous article on the DriveDx Health & Monitoring Tool I covered an overview of the software along with what it calls Health Indicators. Today I want to finish by looking at the Self-test feature, third party software for accessing external drives and a possible failing hard drive.
DriveDx has a Self-test area. It runs Self-tests on your drives every 30 minutes as long as the app is running. It puts an icon in your Menubar while it is running. If you click on Self-test in the sidebar of the main window it displays testing results:
You can manually run a short test or a more thorough full self-test. I ran a couple of manual tests just for drill. You can set the time interval for DriveDx to check on drive health in the General Preferences of the app:
There are a few other Preferences you can change as you can see.
SAT SMART Driver
The Binary Fruit people provide the third party kernel driver called SAT SMART Driver. This is on open source driver that enables DriveDx to work with externally connected USB hard drives. Apple does not provide this capability in the macOS. Here is the information page on this driver on the Binary Fruit website. I strongly recommend reading through this page before you install this kernel extension.
If you click on one of your external drives in the left sidebar of DriveDx you get a window like this:
When you click on the “Install Driver” button you get a typical install window:
When the install is completed you must Restart your computer. You should then see your external drives listed in the sidebar:
Of course the externals show with the USB orange icon. Take a look at the Photos drive in the above image. It has a warning symbol. Here is what SAT SMART Driver is saying about that drive:
Whoa! It says my external Photos drive is failing. This is a Crucial MX 300 512GB drive in a USB enclosure. This drive is only about 3 months old. I was pretty worried about this so I put in a ticket with Crucial tech support explaining what DriveDx was showing. They emailed back and said they did not think it was seeing the drive accurately and suggested that I download and use the Crucial Storage Executive software from their website to test their drive. The only problem with that is it only works on Windows OS. However, I happen to have Windows 10 running in Parallels on my Mac.
I booted into Windows 10 and installed the Storage Executive software. Then I made sure the drive in question was mounted in Windows 10. Here is what the Crucial software showed:
It showed the drive was in good health! I was very happy to see that. If you look closely at that window you will see there is a firmware update for this drive. I tried installing it using this software, but it did not work, probably because Windows was not installed on a true PC computer. While I was in the Crucial app I did click on the “Smart” button which showed a list of the tests it runs:
I just want to give you an FYI here. The SAT SMART Drive kernel extension does not work with all external drives. Also, if you install it and wish to remove it, there is a Terminal command on the DriveDx website to do just that.
I really like DriveDx. It is super thorough in its drive monitoring. I leave it running all the time, but I keep the Dock Icon off. I just access it with the Menubar Icon. If you run a lot of hard drives or just want to monitor your one Mac hard drive with all your important stuff on it, I say get DriveDx. A little extra protection for your very important documents and photos cannot hurt.
PS — Wanted add a quick addendum here. After a day or so of use my External USB drives stopped being recognized. The app gave a message that said the HD enclosures were not supported by the driver. This does not change my recommendation to get this software, your externals may work just fine.