From the day I owned my first computer, I’ve always wanted to check my disk drives’ health on a regular basis and a few decades ago that became possible thanks to S.M.A.R.T., a self-monitoring system built into all hard disks and SSDs that is supposed to enable an app like Disk Utility on a Mac to warn you when a drive is near-dead. That’s where DriveDx comes in.
Disk Utility’s limited use is a problem because it doesn’t enable you to check all SMART’s parameters in an easy to understand listing. Only that allows you to prepare yourself for imminent break-down of a disk. And with Fusion drives built into iMacs, that can be a problem.
A Fusion drive has a small SSD in addition to the hard disk. When the SSD fails, so does your Fusion drive in its entirety and recovering data may become a huge problem. Enter DriveDx, a small app that lets you actually view all the parameters and the progressive deterioration of your hard disk and SSDs.
For SSDs, DriveDx is just as essential a tool. In my case, I tested an OWC Mercury Extreme SSD that, as far as I knew, was relatively new, yet kept unmounting (I used it with an OWC drive dock) without any reason I could think of. I tested that SSD with DriveDx and it reported it as on its way to failure. Without hesitation, I copied all files on it to another SSD the app gave a clean bill of health and threw it in the bin.
Now, if DriveDx would only give you information on your internal drive, such as the firmware data, health and temperature indicators and a graphically and numerically presented failure percentage for a dazzling array of parameters, it would already be worth its money, but much to my surprise, it also covers external drives and that makes it exceptionally useful, because, normally, you can’t see any SMART data when your disk or SSD is in its own USB or Thunderbolt enclosure.
To be able to see how much life is left in external drives, you will need to install a system extension. That extension doesn’t seem to consume any system memory or system time, according to Activity Monitor, and it works without causing any sort of trouble on Catalina. It does allow you to check on external drives as if they were built-in. There’s no parameter left untouched. In short, DriveDx checks both internal and external drives, regardless of how you connect them to your Mac.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, makes DriveDx better than a life insurance for the data and information that’s residing on your local storage media. Because it allows you to prepare yourself for the inevitable. Without it, you’re flying blind.
A much recommended must-have utility, this app. And cheap too, at 19.99 USD for a single-user licence.