GSmartControl - The Ultimate Disk Health Monitor - A Detailed Review

By Angsuman Chakraborty, Gaea News Network
Tuesday, December 2, 2008

GSmartControl is a graphical user interface for smartctl (from Smartmontools package), which is a tool for querying and controlling SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) data on modern hard disk drives. It allows you to inspect the drive’s SMART data to determine its health, as well as run various tests on it.

What is SMART

Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology, or SMART, is a
monitoring system for hard drives to detect and report various indicators of
reliability, in the hope of anticipating failures. It is implemented inside
the drives SMART provides several ways of monitoring hard drive health. It
may provide information about general health, various drive attributes (for
example, number of unreadable sectors), error logs, and so on. It may also
provide ways to instruct the drive to run various self-tests, which may report
valuable information. It may even automatically scan the disk surface in when
the drive is idle, and repair the defects, reallocating the data to more safe

Features at a glance

  • Automatically report and hilight any abnormal SMART information.
  • Ability to enable / disable SMART.
  • Ability to enable / disable Automatic Offline Data Collection - A short
  • self-check that the drive will perform automatically every four hours with no impact on performance.
  • Ability to set global and per-drive options for smartctl.
  • Display drive identity, capabilities, attributes, error and self-test logs.
  • Perform SMART self-tests.
  • Ability to load smartctl output as a “virtual” device, which acts just like a real (read-only) device.
  • Works on most smartctl-supported operating systems.
  • Extensive help information.


GSmartControl is not in the standard Fedora, openSUSE, or Ubuntu repositories. There are 1-click installs available on the openSUSE Build Service for both openSUSE 11 and Fedora 9. I built GSmartControl 0.8.0rc3 from source on a 64-bit Fedora 9 machine using the normal command

./configure && make && sudo make install

GSmartControl is written using the C++ API for GTK+2 (gtkmm24). To interact with your hard drives, GSmartControl uses the smartmontools command-line utility, and for parsing SMART information it uses the PCRE regular expression library.


1. Choose the Devices You Want to Scan

In the Drives tab of the preferences, you can blacklist certain devices so that GSmartControl will not scan them at all, and set special parameters for smartctl for specific devices. For example, if you have an old hard disk on /dev/sda, you can supply special smartctl parameters for GSmartControl to use for just that device.

2. Features in Menu

There are two main options in the main menu.

  • View Details: Double-clicking on a drive icon in the main window brings up the windowto view details about that particular area.
  • Perform Tests: It opens a tab to let you start a Short or Extended Self-test of the drive

3. Notification

When you should pay attention to a particular attribute, GSmartControl will highlight its row with a different background color essentially pink as you can see in the screenshot from In this case, the Raw value being reported is ridiculously high, and the other two Samsung drives of identical model in the same machine have similar Raw values for Read Soft Error Rate.

4. Tabs

The Identity tab from the above screenshot lets you see the model, serial number, and firmware of the drive as well as whether SMART is enabled on the drive and the overall health assessment. The Capabilities tab lets you see which SMART features are supported by your drive and see additional information about these features, such as how long the Short and Extended self-test will take.

5. Logs

The Error Log and Self-test Log tabs let you see the errors and Extended self-test information. The Perform Tests tab lets you initiate a Short or Extended self-test on the drive. When you execute these tests you’ll see a progress meter in the tab.

In Conclusion

GSmartControl is a new and moderately reliable application. If you feel there are severe short-comings or some good features you want us to be aware of, do write to us.


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