I use USB external drives on a daily basis and I would like to be able to check on their integrity. I recently happened to discover I was unable to read SMART attributes from them.

I wonder if there were external enclosures allowing the OS the check the SMART attributes, either USB or eSATA and if this was a hardware and/or software limitation(s).

I suspect it is hardware-related limitation of certain USB enclosures but could not find a real answer elsewhere.


You can obtain SMART attributes if the USB adapter/enclosure supports UASP, USB Attached SCSI Protocol. Older enclosures may not support this protocol and may only have proprietary interfaces to SMART, or none at all.

The Linux smartctl command has some support for old proprietary USB enclosures, so you may get lucky. For all the gory details, see the section of the smartctl man page explaining its -d option, which you can use to specify the type of interface if necessary.

If smartctl doesn't autodetect your UASP enclosure, pass -d sat on the command line. For example:

smartctl -d sat -a /dev/sdb
  • Regarding enclosures supporting eSATA only or in addition to USB, you can obtain SMART attributes "almost directly"? – Paradox Feb 22 at 3:00
  • @Paradox If it's eSATA then there is no problem, that will just happen normally. It's USB enclosures that you might have a problem with. eSATA is literally SATA with a different physical connector. USB is a whole other protocol, and SATA must be tunneled over it, which is what UASP does. – Michael Hampton Feb 22 at 3:30
  • @Michael_Hampton That's what I thought. Thanks. – Paradox Feb 22 at 7:16

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