I have a WD My Passport USB HDD, which me and my brother use for our backup. Rather than having one for each of us, we use a single HDD (Yes, we are cheapskates). As it changes hands between the two of us fairly often, we are naturally very concerned about its health.

I usually use smartmontools to retrieve the SMART data of my HDDs, but for some reason, the default set of arguments won’t do for the WD Passport.

root@N148P:/home/aswin# smartctl -a /dev/sdb
smartctl 6.6 2016-05-31 r4324 [x86_64-linux-4.9.0-3-amd64] (local build)
Copyright (C) 2002-16, Bruce Allen, Christian Franke,

/dev/sdb: Unknown USB bridge [0x1058:0x259f (0x1014)]
Please specify device type with the -d option.

Use smartctl -h to get a usage summary

For the longest amount of time, I strongly believed I would have to use WD’s proprietary Windows application (yikes!) to monitor the disks. But then, yesterday, I chanced upon this page. The page has an extensive set of USB devices which the tool supports along with special arguments, which might be needed to make them work with smartmontools.

It turns out using the “-d sat” argument would make smartmontools play nice with my HDD!

root@N148P:/home/aswin# smartctl -a -d sat /dev/sdb
smartctl 6.6 2016-05-31 r4324 [x86_64-linux-4.9.0-3-amd64] (local build)
Copyright (C) 2002-16, Bruce Allen, Christian Franke,

Model Family: Western Digital Elements / My Passport (USB, AF)
Device Model: WDC WD10JMVW-11AJGS4
Serial Number: WD-WX71A76JAR7T
LU WWN Device Id: 5 0014ee 6b18facb5
Firmware Version: 01.01A01
User Capacity: 1,000,171,332,096 bytes [1.00 TB]
Sector Sizes: 512 bytes logical, 4096 bytes physical
Rotation Rate: 5400 rpm
Device is: In smartctl database [for details use: -P show]
ATA Version is: ACS-2 (minor revision not indicated)
SATA Version is: SATA 3.0, 3.0 Gb/s (current: 3.0 Gb/s)
Local Time is: Sun May 31 19:26:13 2020 IST
SMART support is: Available - device has SMART capability.
SMART support is: Enabled

SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED

The -d switch sets the type of our device, without letting smartmontools guess on its own. The set of arguments needed for your device can differ, so if you own a USB storage device, go look it up in the page!