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How to check the SSD status of your Intel and M1 Mac with Terminal

If you have a newer Mac, it probably uses a fast SSD drive to store files, apps, music, videos, and a lot of other important stuff. But there is 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 keep an eye on its health. While it usually takes a very long time for an SSD to wear out – probably much longer than you keep your Mac – issues can arise. Most recently, users began to notice that new M1 Macs and some Intel-based Macs show advanced wear and tear after just a few months of use, a disturbing sign that drives could burn out years earlier.

So even if you have a brand new M1

Mac, you may want to check the health of your drive from time to time. To understand the health of your SSD, you can use a software tool called smartmontools, which uses the Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART) system built into SSDs. However, there is a catch with smartmontools. It’s not a typical app with an icon you double-click to launch and menus and windows you navigate. It runs in the Terminal, the command line interface for the Mac found in the Utilities folder in Applications.

In this article, you will learn how to set up the Terminal so that you can install and run smart montools. However, make some time. While the procedure isn’t difficult (if I can, I certainly can), since you’re dealing with command line input, you need to pay a bit more attention to what you’re doing than with apps you usually use on the Mac. There are so many times when I could have saved myself some frustration if I was just more careful typing.

These instructions were created with macOS Big Sur, but can also be used in macOS Catalina. If something goes wrong, don’t panic. The worst scenario is that you will have to reinstall macOS in recovery mode, which will take some time but will leave all 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 from the App Store for free.

After you download Xcode, go to the Utilities folder to open it. You must agree to the software license before you can proceed, type in your Mac password and terms and conditions. Then you can close the app.

How to install Homebrew

Now you need to install a package manager, which is a set of utilities needed to perform tasks such as installations and uninstallations. There are several package managers available, and Homebrew is a popular one, so we’ll be using it here.

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