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Data Lifeguard Diagnostics reports ambiguous SMART status


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[i'm surprised I didn't find this posted here already; I cannot be the first.]


I am building a RAID using WD Red NAS 2TB 3.5" drives. Before configuring the RAID, I thought it prudent to test each individual drive. Lacking a better utility, I installed version 1.25 of Western Digital's Data LifeGuard Diagnostics for Windows (WinDlg.exe). I then ran the utility with the drive in an external enclosure connected to the desktop over USB 2.

  • The drive passed the Quick Test.
  • The drive also passed the Extended Test.

Oddly, the SMART status of the drive is reported as either Pass or Fail, depending on which menu options I choose. Because I can make the status change from Pass to Fail and back again, I feel I cannot trust the SMART status reported for the drive. This seems to be a bug, and I've gone ahead and asked for assistance from Western Digital.


To reproduce the error:

  1. Insert drive into external enclosure.
  2. Connect enclosure to desktop over USB and power it on.
  3. Run WinDlg.exe from Windows Explorer.
    1. Drive is found by utility and its type and label and status are shown.
    2. SMART = Pass
  4. Within utility, right-click on drive and choose Show SMART info
    1. Attributes are listed, some with green checks, some with red exes. The red exes mostly appear beside "Unknown" except for a couple named attributes.
    2. Click OK.
    3. SMART = Fail
  5. Within utility, right-click on drive and choose Run Diagnostics
    1. Click Close
    2. SMART = Pass

Perhaps the status is set to Fail because of the "unknown" attributes being flagged as failing, and perhaps the status is reset to Pass when the diagnostic window is opened regardless of the tests run. Whether or not this is a bug, the results are ambiguous at best and contradictory at worst. Comments welcomed.

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Is this the most up to date version of the WD Data Lifeguard tools? Double check, just in case.


If it is... then I'd recommend downloading StableBIt Scanner or HD Sentinel or other 3rd party utilities that read SMART data. It may be more accurate (which is sad).

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My comment is that it can be dangerous to put too much faith in SMART data. SMART is anything but smart. It's a crippled technology that was hog-tied by fighting within the committees that developed and approved it. In the end, it's only a faint shadow of what it's original conceivers intended. Also, due to the many compromises that occurred, it's virtually impossible to establish a clear standard for Pass or Fail.


SMART isn't useless, but don't put too much faith in it, and don't base any decisions about a drive solely on that drive's SMART stats.


That's my 2 cents anyway.

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Yeah. Those would be some of the values that would be high enough to be of concern. The other one is when you see something suddenly increasing at a very much higher than normal rate.

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