Sunday, May 15, 2022

How to check your Intel and M1 Mac’s SSD health using Terminal

If you have a newer Mac, it likely uses a speedy solid-state drive to store files, apps, music, videos, and a lot of other important stuff. But there’s one thing you may not know about SSDs: They wear out over time.

Since the SSD is such a vital part of your Mac, it’s a good idea to keeps tabs on its health. While it usually takes a really long time to wear out an SSD—likely far longer than you’ll keep your Mac—problems can arise. Most recently, users started noticing that new M1 Macs and some Intel-based ones are showing advanced wear after just a few months of use, a troubling sign that could cause drives to burn out years before expected.

So even if you have a brand new M1 Mac, you might want to check on your drive’s health from time to time. To gain insight into the health of your SSD, you can use a software tool called smartmontools, which taps into the Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART) system that’s built into SSDs. There is a catch with smartmontools, though. It’s not a typical app with an icon that you double-click to launch and menus and windows you navigate. It runs in the Terminal, the command-line interface for the Mac that you’ll find in the Utilities folder inside Applications.

In this article, you’ll learn how to set up the Terminal so you can install and run smartmontools. Set aside some time, however. While the procedure isn’t difficult (if I can do it, you certainly can), since you’re dealing with command line entries, you need to pay a little closer attention to what you’re doing than with apps you usually use on the Mac. There are so many times I could’ve saved myself some frustration if I was just more careful with my typing.

These instructions were created using macOS Big Sur, but they can also be used in macOS Catalina. If something goes wrong, don’t panic. The worst-case scenario is you’ll need to reinstall macOS in Recovery Mode, which will take some time but will leave all of your files intact.

How to install Xcode

The first thing you need to do is install Xcode, an Apple app for developers. It has a set of command line tools that your Mac needs before you can install and run Homebrew, which is a prerequisite for running smartmontools. You can get Xcode in the App Store for free.

After you download Xcode, head over to the Utilities folder to open it. You need to agree to its software license before you can continue, type your Mac password, and as well as the Terms and Conditions. Then you can quit the app.

How to install Homebrew

Now you need to install a package manager, which is a set of tools needed to perform tasks like installations and uninstalls. There are different package managers available, and Homebrew is a popular one, so we’ll use it here.

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