What kinds of sensors can be used to monitor the condition of a hard disk?

We want to be able to detect when a hard disk is not operating correctly.

Unexpected vibrations may be caused by spindle problems (probably low frequency), or by head crashing (high frequency).

  • $\begingroup$ howabout a microphone? preferably one with ultrasound capabilities. An accelerometer is also ok. $\endgroup$
    – joojaa
    Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 12:12
  • $\begingroup$ Is it possible for mechanical issues like these to be detected externally while not showing up in the drive diagnostics (SMART or performance)? $\endgroup$
    – hazzey
    Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ joojaa: An accelerometer would only detect very low frequency vibration, right? I wonder what are the maximum freqs accelerometers detect? $\endgroup$
    – Doug Null
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 12:42
  • $\begingroup$ You can get "Mechanical" accelerometers that are accurate up to frequencies of 10 or 20 kHz. Non-contact measurement systems like capacitance probes have a similar range. On the other hand laser Doppler vibrometers can measure at frequencies up to 10 MHz (at a price, of course!) if you really need to do that. $\endgroup$
    – alephzero
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 0:03
  • $\begingroup$ Well an axelerometer works mostly as a microphone would but a microphone has better ranges in some cases. by the way us @joojaa and it will ping me or any other user offocurse if you give their name and they are in the discussion chain. $\endgroup$
    – joojaa
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 1:43

1 Answer 1


There are two types of sensors commonly used in hard disks to detect vibration and head crashing. They are:

  1. Accelerometer: Accelerometers are used to detect sudden vibrations.
  2. Sudden Motion Sensors: These are mostly used in Apple Notebooks to detect a sudden drop of a laptop and to disengage the hard drive. SMS system parks the hard drive and restart the hard drive when stability is detected. SMS include a triaxial accelerometers.



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