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I have numerous hard drives and i figure i should benchmark them every so often because that's what websites tell me to do. But i'm worried if using the stock "Disks" utility that comes with Ubuntu 16.04 desktop will affect any data already on the drives. There is only one option "Start Benchmark", so it's not like i have any useful information to work from.
I suppose it's a multi-pronged question:

Is it safe to benchmark a drive with stuff already on it? If so, is it also safe if that drive is being accessed by the system for whatever reason, or should i make sure nothing else is accessing that drive first? should i dismount them first (and i suppose, can i benchtest an unmounted drive?), and finally, do i really need to do these every month or so as some sites are suggesting; they aren't as trustworthy (to me) as askubuntu, and i've always valued the opinion of the people in this group.

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hdparm is a standard CLI for testing disk speed and the drives don't have to be mounted (when doing read tests).

$ sudo hdparm -tT /dev/nvme0n1

/dev/nvme0n1:
 Timing cached reads:   20760 MB in  1.99 seconds = 10414.33 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 5104 MB in  3.00 seconds = 1701.12 MB/sec

$ sudo hdparm -tT /dev/sdb

/dev/sdb:
 Timing cached reads:   18822 MB in  1.99 seconds = 9442.74 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads:  80 MB in  3.08 seconds =  26.01 MB/sec

The first drive is an SSD and the second drive is a USB pen drive.

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  • Are those tests in any way destructive? Nov 30, 2022 at 17:21
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    @LucasSoares I haven't heard any reports of damage. Dec 13, 2022 at 13:11
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Related: How to check hard disk performance Benchmarking generally means to NOT use the system by any other means so I would advice to log out (or even kill the desktop) and use a terminal.

can i benchtest an unmounted drive"

No. Generally it means that the benchmark reads from and write to the disk and count how quickly this is done where you compare the results with the specification.

do i really need to do these every month or so as some sites are suggesting

For a regular desktop user the answer is: no. If you are hosting servers on that system it might be useful as one of the tools to determine to replace it.

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