S.M.A.R.T. reliability.

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May 28, 2021
How good and or accurate is SMART on drives these days? I've read some years ago that is wasn't very good/reliable. Would like to know how well it really works.

Any links to articles that has decent insight would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
What do you mean by reliability? S.M.A.R.T. is not standardized, and all it does it provide counters for values the drive firmware decides to expose. As far as I know, this works for every consumer drive out there. You need software to do anything useful with the counters, and that is the rub, I don't think much of that software is really very valuable. There is some free tool I think some people swear by: https://www.smartmontools.org/
I want to know how accurate the data the drive is reporting.
"You need software to do anything useful with the counters, and that is the rub, I don't think much of that software is really very valuable."
And why is that?
don't think much of that software is really very valuable.

And why is that?

Because there are no standards on how the data should be interpreted. Since there is no clear interpretation, there can be no clear course of "reaction". It would require someone with access to practically every revision of every drive to know if their software was behaving correctly. Otherwise they need to rely on reports from their users and crowd source that correct behaviour.
The Crucial MX500 is a good example of it using a value differently than other drives. Thanks to Spinrite, we just assume that the bad sector count will never be zero (at least with spinning rust). With the MX500, the pending bad sector count can appear to never be non-zero during write operations. You can tell when something wrote to the drive because this value was tripped. It does hit zero, but it's a BAD value to tell if this drive is dying or not, but great on drives that update this value correctly. I think the MX500 just uses it to let you know if there's data in its cache and not in the NAND storage yet.
I treat SMART as such:

- If SMART gives the okay then there's no reason to assume all is well. For a drive to detect for example a bad sector, in needs to access this sector. If sector happens to contain some static data that is hardly ever accessed, it may take a while for the drive to detect an issue and log it.
- If SMART warns you of impending doom, act accordingly. For example I distrust drives with any bad sectors, but for SMART threshold to be reached you often need quite a few. So once SMART starts yelling, the situation is likely pretty dire.

Whatever standardization we had now seems abandoned completely with introduction of SSD drives. I somewhat rely on / trust HD Sentinel to interpret the data correctly for me. It's developer is very actively monitoring various drives and SMART variations.
Looks like guied up version of smartctl on linux.