Spinning down hard drives

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mrFergo
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Spinning down hard drives

Post by mrFergo » Wed Jul 25, 2012 5:42 am

As we all know mechanical hard drives tend to be quite noisy. Now, I realize there are ways to "spin down" (or turn off or what have you) hard drives after a certain amount of inactivity.

But what does this really imply? Do the disks stop spinning altogether or do they merely slow down?

nutball
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Re: Spinning down hard drives

Post by nutball » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:01 am

They stop spinning altogether.

There are a lot of winks and nods towards power management through variable RPM at various places in the storage food-chain, I've yet to see any meaningful evidence that either of the HDD manufacturers are actually doing this.

mrFergo
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Re: Spinning down hard drives

Post by mrFergo » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:29 am

If they stop spinning altogether, that should make the hd virtually inaudible, right?

kuzzia
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Re: Spinning down hard drives

Post by kuzzia » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:34 am

mrFergo wrote:If they stop spinning altogether, that should make the hd virtually inaudible, right?
Yes. I have set Windows 7 to turn off the harddrive completely after two minutes of inactivity (my secondary hard drive), and it's completely silent. When turning off, it makes the same sound as when I turn the computer off. Also, it takes some seconds for the HD to be accesible after a period of inactivity.

Do you need to turn off a hard drive to get a quiet system?

kater
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Re: Spinning down hard drives

Post by kater » Wed Jul 25, 2012 7:14 am

I once used this feature to muzzle my 3,5" bare drive in main PC, but I soon abandoned this feature as the drive would more/less frequently start spinning just by itself - or rather some software kept calling on it. So instead of a drive that would start a few times during the day, when I really needed it, I had a drive that would up and start every hour or so.

Also, I recently learned that there are new Hitachi drives (5K1000 namely, and perhaps some others) that can actually slow down, not just stop altogether.

mrFergo
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Re: Spinning down hard drives

Post by mrFergo » Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:40 am

kuzzia wrote: Yes. I have set Windows 7 to turn off the harddrive completely after two minutes of inactivity (my secondary hard drive), and it's completely silent.
After only two minutes? Don't you get a lot of starts-and-stops that way, and wouldn't that shorten the life span of the hard drive? Reassuring to hear that it gets completely silent anyway.
kater wrote:I once used this feature to muzzle my 3,5" bare drive in main PC, but I soon abandoned this feature as the drive would more/less frequently start spinning just by itself - or rather some software kept calling on it. So instead of a drive that would start a few times during the day, when I really needed it, I had a drive that would up and start every hour or so.
Yeah, I guess you have to make sure that there aren't any processes trying to access the drive unnecessarily.

kater
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Re: Spinning down hard drives

Post by kater » Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:48 am

I tried to isolate the culprit but no luck. Could be the AV software, could be anything. I simply learned to live with it. No big deal anyway, as I almost always have the window in my room open, effectively making the PC dead silent :)
I was worried about the shorter lifespan due to hundreds of starts/stops, too.

Pappnaas
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Re: Spinning down hard drives

Post by Pappnaas » Thu Jul 26, 2012 3:28 am

kater wrote:I tried to isolate the culprit but no luck. Could be the AV software, could be anything. I simply learned to live with it. No big deal anyway, as I almost always have the window in my room open, effectively making the PC dead silent :)
I was worried about the shorter lifespan due to hundreds of starts/stops, too.
Did you check Windows Search/Indexing Sevices?

BZD
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Re: Spinning down hard drives

Post by BZD » Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:08 pm

Pappnaas wrote:Did you check Windows Search/Indexing Sevices?
In my experience opening any sort of file dialog might make Windows start all drives. Also typing a web address in IE or having windows shut down/sleep/hibernate!

It seems to haven gotten better with the later Windows OS versions, especially Win 8 but I guess much also depends on how one uses the computer. Personally I disable disk shut down for 3.5" drives but use it with the smaller drives as I think they are build to handle it (and start faster).

andyb
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Re: Spinning down hard drives

Post by andyb » Mon Aug 20, 2012 1:42 pm

There are a lot of winks and nods towards power management through variable RPM at various places in the storage food-chain, I've yet to see any meaningful evidence that either of the HDD manufacturers are actually doing this.
Its only WD who have ever suggested via "IntelliPower" that such a thing exists, (IntelliPower is WD saying 5400rpm - no doubt this is to avoid the suggestion that the drive is "slow" which is in itself a throwback to when all HDD were 5400rpm or slower and everyone wanted faster drives - now people want lower power and quiter drives).

WD's "IntelliPower" was debunked a few years ago by SPCR and it forum members - its a fixed speed drive that runs at 5400rpm. There is no HDD on the market that changes its rotational speed whilst continuing to spin, its only ever in 4 states. 1 = Off (or idle but still not spinning), 2 = spinning up, 3 = spinning, 4 = spinning down.
Did you check Windows Search/Indexing Sevices?
It could also be the "windows defragmenter", "log files", "system Restore", or the "Page File" all of which could happen at almost any moment it seems. There are ways to move these, or disable them which are usually suggested for SSD's.


Andy

kater
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Re: Spinning down hard drives

Post by kater » Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:45 pm

andyb wrote:There is no HDD on the market that changes its rotational speed whilst continuing to spin, its only ever in 4 states. 1 = Off (or idle but still not spinning), 2 = spinning up, 3 = spinning, 4 = spinning down.
While I completely agree that WD's marketing spin (duh) is a fine example of evil marketing, purely dishonest and bad for the customers, there's actually a drive that can slow down from its standard 5700/5940 RPM to app. 4500 or 4900 (low RPM idle), depending on the model. The first and third links are lengthy docs, so simply search "RPM" for the meat.

5K1000

click 1

click 2

5K3000

click 3

Mind you, HGST claims only selected models feature the "low RPM idle" mode. Apparently, the Deskstar 5K3000 reviewed by SPCR didn't. So, apart from the information confirming this feature, one would yet have to actually see this spinning down in practice.

Funny thing, HGST seems to disregard this information (actually spinning down, not just CoolSpin) in their marketing altogether. Very few reviews exists and, curiously enough, they also don't mention this feature.

I can only hope SPCR and/or storagereview do a test of such a drive.

MikeC
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Re: Spinning down hard drives

Post by MikeC » Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:52 pm

kater wrote:While I completely agree that WD's marketing spin (duh) is a fine example of evil marketing, purely dishonest and bad for the customers, there's actually a drive that can slow down from its standard 5700/5940 RPM to app. 4500 or 4900 (low RPM idle), depending on the model. The first and third links are lengthy docs, so simply search "RPM" for the meat.

5K1000 click 1
Interesting, indeed. It's a first -- but which models? The Hitachi docs are unclear about that -- "supported on specific drive PN, only" -- or maybe I just skimmed too fast. 4500rpm seems to be the "low idle" for a 5700rpm drive.

kuzzia
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Re: Spinning down hard drives

Post by kuzzia » Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:53 am

mrFergo wrote:
kuzzia wrote: Yes. I have set Windows 7 to turn off the harddrive completely after two minutes of inactivity (my secondary hard drive), and it's completely silent.
After only two minutes? Don't you get a lot of starts-and-stops that way, and wouldn't that shorten the life span of the hard drive? Reassuring to hear that it gets completely silent anyway.
Well, I only had music and videos on that hard drive. Even my Dropbox folder was moved to the SSD, so I never had problems with the drive accidentally starting up. During Windows boot it would start up but after the two minutes it would shut down.

About the life span... I have no idea about that to be honest.

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