Hi, Leo. Today, I ran a driver test from Dell support center and my laptop, six
months old, failed the SMART short self test. It passed all the other tests,
though. So what do I do now? Should I just ignore this or format my computer? I
also want to know what’s caused it, because I can neither play high-end games nor
download random software.
In this excerpt from
Answercast #12, I walk through the purpose and results of a SMART test and
suggest preventative measures to take if your computer has failed the test.
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Hard drive health
SMART stands for Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology.
It is software that runs on the hard disk controllers: actually, on the hard
disks themselves. This SMART technology monitors the health of your hard
If you’re facing a SMART failure, then the place to be looking is at your
Will reformatting help?
Just reformatting your computer isn’t going to solve that. It’s actually a
failure, or an impending failure, inside the hard disk itself.
What it really means is you want to actually replace the hard disk for
Yes, that’s going to involve reformatting the computer after you replace the
drive. But the point is that it’s not the reformat that’s fixing anything; it’s
replacing the hard disk that does so.
False positive readings
I will say that, particularly on older drives, the SMART Self Test has been
known to be somewhat unreliable.
In my case, however, if I face a SMART Self Test failure, I take the safest
path and assume that it’s accurate; that it’s telling me something that I need
In many cases, the absolute safest thing to do is to replace the hard drive
that’s failing that test.
2 comments on “What causes my computer to fail a Smart Short Self Test, and do I have to reformat?”
Just to comment on the original question which suggested that a SMART failure might have something to do with playing high end games – there is no reason to suspect that playing high end games would cause this.
I am just in the process of replacing a failing drive, after getting a SMART warning from the BIOS at boot.
I downloaded a program that displayed the SMART data and at that time some 1800 sectors had become unusable and had been relocated to other sectors. By the time I copied the data off the drive the number had increased by several hundred and by the time I removed the drive from my system (a few days later) the number of relocated sectors was over 3000.
The manufacturer had a downloadable test tool which verified that the drive needed to be replaced under warranty. Keying the test result code into their website generated an RMA, authorising the return for replacement of the 2 Tb drive.
I am waiting with bated breath for UPS to deliver its replacement.