Why doesn’t the Disk Management snap-in incorporate S.M.A.R.T. data?

My article a while back on Why the Disk Management snap-in reports my volume as Healthy when the drive is dying gave the low-level explanation of why the Disk Management snap-in does not incorporate SMART information: because the Disk Management snap-in is concerned with volume partitioning. DWalker59 noted that the use of the word "Healthy" carries more meaning than the authors of the snap-in intended. The authors of the snap-in assumed that everybody knew what the Disk Management snap-in was for, and therefore everybody know that the word "Healthy" applied to the state of the file system.

I never said that this was a good situation, and commenter Dog interpreted that since I didn't say whether this was a good situation or a bad situation, I must be saying that it's a good situation. Actually, since I didn't say whether this was a good situation or a bad situation, this means that I'm not saying whether this is a good situation or a bad situation. The article was posted in the Tips/Support category, which is about helping you cope with the frustrations of using Windows, not about passing value judgements on what is good or bad. The point was not to say what is good and what is bad, but merely to say what is.

Dog thinks that the blog would be far more interesting if I shared my opinion on things. Actually, I try not to share my opinion on things, because the Web site isn't about opinionating on Windows; it's about practical programming on Windows. Practicality means that you have to set aside whether something is good or bad, because it's there and you have to deal with it regardless. If you want opinionated writing, check out Robert Scoble or Michael Kaplan. Dog also assumes that Microsoft's PR department has told me not to opinionate on things. In fact, they haven't told me anything one way or the other (yet, and I hope it stays that way).

(I found it interesting that Dog claims that "the act of reporting on [something] gives the appearance of support unless otherwise stated." I wonder if people who cover armed conflicts have to add an explicit statement along the lines of "killing is bad" so Dog won't think they support people shooting at each other.)

From a historical standpoint, the situation is a bit more understandable. After all, the Disk Management snap-in was written long before support for S.M.A.R.T. information showed up in Windows Vista. You can't fault the original authors of the Disk Management snap-in for not taking into account data which didn't exist yet.

As for why the Disk Management snap-in didn't incorporate this information when it became available, this assumes that there were resources available to do the work. Disk Management is a very old snap-in that hasn't changed much since it was first written. My suspicion is that maintenance of the Disk Management snap-in is assigned to a group which has as its primary goal some other part of the system; they were just given Disk Management because it has to belong to somebody. Consequently, that group has very little incentive to make any changes to Disk Management at all, and certainly has very little incentive to add features to it.

Comments (27)
  1. Drewster2000 says:


    I'm in IT but not programming, but I always tune in because of your great writing style, ability to say things as they are, and wisdom to keep away from slanting opinions most of the time.  Everyone has an opinion, but there has to be a place you can go just to hear about the way things are.  Thanks for that.

  2. Mordachai says:

    From what I understand, SMART is quite poor at actually catching problems before they happen, or even noticing when they do (the latter is more my observation, the former is from some articles I read recently).  So although I can understand frustration at "healthy" when SMART is indicating "imminent failure", the reality is that HDDs don't have much self-reporting capabilities and any diagnosis from software is likely bogus.

  3. Mordachai says:

    Heh, and should I add a disclaimer that I am not supporting this situation, merely pointing it out?  ;)

  4. Adam Rosenfield says:

    Raymond, don't change your objective writing style.  Yes, there are trolls out there who will deliberately misinterpret what you say, but giving more subjective opinions will just give them more to feed off of.  Keep up the good work.

  5. Alex Grigoriev says:

    S.M.A.R.T existed since late 1990s. In 2000s, I heard MS's excuse that there are too many incompatible SMART implementations in the hardware, to add support to Windows. But even thaat time, this was very lame excuse. AT that time, there's been no more than 10 PC-class HDD vendors. Still exist: Seagate, WD, Tohiba, Samsung, Hitachi. Defunct: IBM (now Hitachi HDD business), Fujitsu, Maxtor, Quantum, Connor, Micropolis.

    Soon it will be down to 3.

    Luckily, WIndows 7 watches SMART data and warns the user of an impending doom. I wish MS were less half-assed this time, and allowed the user to see what's actually going on.

  6. James says:

    "because we hadn't bothered implementing a SMART reader" is a pretty poor excuse. Still, at least there is one now.

    If only SMART was better than 50% effective[1].

    [1] labs.google.com/papers/disk_failures.pdf

  7. Klimax says:

    Interesting – never noticed missing support for SMART. Tools I used apparentl used their own drivers to talk to hardware. Not that I used it too much. At best manufacture specific tool can tell you something usefull like about SSD running out of sectors…

  8. David Walker says:

    Raymond, I agree 100% with what Drewster2000 said.  And I admit to also being DWalker59.  :-)

    I understand now what Disk Management is saying.  I suppose hindsight helps, but after a few releases of Windows, changing "Healthy" to something more neutral would help lessen misunderstandings.  But I suppose it's not the most critical issue to worry about.

    Thanks for all the insight over the years.

  9. Joe says:

    I've found SMART to be pretty much completely useless. My daughter's laptop hard disk has major issues. SeaTools states it would be eligible for warranty replacement were it under warranty, but SMART reports that the drive is perfect. We've run into the same thing with our embedded systems at my job. The engineer who deals with RMAs reports that in his experience, at best SMART tells you what you already know.

  10. Brian Tkatch says:

    Microsoft's PR department has told me not to opinionate on things. In fact, they haven't told me anything one way or the other

    I bet they told you to say that. :)

    Actually, i love the no comments idea, your blog says what is. Though, i would like to hear your comments anyway. Perhaps you could opine in a reply instead of the main article.

  11. Jonathan says:

    Disk management in Windows 7 added support for creating and mounting VHDs, so it's not completely untouched.

  12. Bob says:

    > I never said that this was a good situation, and commenter Dog interpreted that since I didn't say whether this was a good situation or a bad situation, I must be saying that it's a good situation.

    > Dog also assumes that Microsoft's PR department has told me not to opinionate on things. In fact, they haven't told me anything one way or the other (yet, and I hope it stays that way).

    Microsoft's PR department never said that not opinionating is good, and blogger Raymond interpreted that since they didn't say whether this was good or bad, they must be saying that it's good.

    [You are confusing correlation with causation. I have decided not to make opinionating a focus of my writing. (I occasionally regret this decision but have decided to stick with it.) -Raymond]
  13. Dave says:

    SMART is telling me that right now the drive in my laptop is running pretty hot… about 2,241,428 degrees F. I think the photosphere of the sun runs somewhere around 10,000 degrees F so the way I see it, we're all doomed.

  14. Shankar Unni says:

    I sort of agree with DWalker59 on the loaded meaning of the word "Healthy".  This isn't quite like the war reporting scenario that Raymond mentions; rather, it's like reporting on Libya, and saying "everything is OK", because you're only monitoring the traffic in Benghazi, and "everything" is cool there in your view. People read more meaning into that than they should.

    [Or saying "Looks like it's going to be a nice day" because you're the weatherman and all you're saying is that it's going to be sunny and warm. Sure, there's a war going on, but this is the weather report. -Raymond]
  15. Timothy Byrd says:

    It's not "sunny and warm" – it's balmy!

  16. @Alex says:

    If it's all so very easy then why does HDTune not know anything at all about my Western Digital 500gb harddisk (doesn't even know if it has SMART), and reports the temperature of my Corsair Force 3 120gb harddisk as 128 degrees C? Probably because the interfaces are not as standard as you might think…

  17. ender says:

    Speaking of Disk Management, I like how in Slovenian version of Vista it claims that the disks are "On the Internet", and in 7 "On the Web" (on XP they were just Active).

    [Maybe it's cloud storage? (ha ha ha, I crack me up.) -Raymond]
  18. Alex Grigoriev says:


    1. If Windows contained some basic S.M.A.R.T. monitor, the HDD vendors would be at least testing their disks against it. Now that there are quite a few third party S.M.A.R.T programs, the HDD vendors are only testing their disks against just a few major implementations.

    2. Corsair doesn't have enough experience in emulating disk behavior. This is why their implementation is screwed. I guess, their programmers don't know difference between Celcius and Fahrenheit.

  19. Alex Grigoriev says:


    Translation "by the chart" strikes again. "We have 'Online' translated already, we don't need to pay to translate it again"

  20. ender says:

    @Alex: I don't understand how they translate things, but random things aren't translated in various versions of Windows (eg. the Alt+Space menu on console window was translated on XP, but isn't on 7, each version of Windows has different Computer Management items translated etc.).

  21. 640k says:

    Bad sectors has existed like FOREVER. That's a better indication of how healthy the disk is. Why didn't disk manager use that?

  22. Alex Grigoriev says:


    For quite long time ("forever" in technology time) the bad sectors has been silently redirected by the drive firmware to the spare locations. The OS doesn't see it. If the OS start to see them, that usually means the remapping area is exausted. Your drive produced too many bad block and is about to die.

  23. xpclient says:

    By this time, Disk Management should have evolved into a full blown advanced disk partitioning tool without many limitations (en.wikipedia.org/…/Disk_Management) and just basic features. Like Partition Magic or Veritas Volume Manager so we wouldn't need third party partition managers. Diskpart.exe is quite advanced but the storage team apparently thinks command line is cooler than GUI and doesn't build a full equivalent GUI in Disk Management for diskpart.

  24. ErikF says:

    @xpclient: But then all of those third-party vendors would cry "Foul!" over Microsoft's over-reaching. (See: Windows Defender, compression in MS-DOS 6) Most users wouldn't know what to do with half the features anyways, and would likely just mess up their drives. There's a reason why FDISK doesn't exist anymore!

  25. Thomas says:

    There's a reason why FDISK doesn't exist anymore!

    Because diskpart has more functionality and no annoying "are your sure you want to wipe the drive clean?" questions?

  26. 640k says:

    @Raymond: "Disk Management snap-in is concerned with volume partitioning". Why wasn't it called Volume Partitioning Manager then? By calling it *disk* manager, it's developer takes responsibility for *disk* managment. And that includes updating it when smart information became available.

    @Alex Grigoriev: Disk manager doesn't report bad sectors if those doesn't disrupt partitioning. And when disks started using smart, features was actually removed because drives then hide information from the OS. Disk manager become non-smart when SMART was added.

    [Now you're just being the troublemaker student who likes to annoy the teacher. Why is FDISK called FDISK instead of FVOL? Why is df called df instead of vf? -Raymond]
  27. Neil (SM) says:

    And how come we park in a driveway but drive on a parkway?

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