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Hard Drive orientation

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April 20, 2013 5:08:16 PM

My desktop PC is in an Antec P180 mini-tower case. (The vendor & model don't matter, the TOWER part does)

Up until a few months ago, I had it standing on the floor in an upright orientation (as it was obviously intended), where the hard drive (and DVD drive) were horizontal (their 'widths' go side to side).

In the last few months, I've had the case laying on its' side on a table, where now the hard drive (and DVD drive) are vertical (their 'widths' go up and down).

Question: is this orientation of the hard drive in the vertical (it's 'width' going up and down) an ok thing to do, or am I putting undesirable stresses on the control/tracking mechanism making it work against gravity in a way it wasn't intended to do? This used to be a common thing back in the Jurassic era of computers, but maybe we just didn't know any better back then, and I've inadvertently returned to doing something that 'the industry' has discovered is a no-no, and I just didn't get the memo.

I have been experiencing more blue-screens-of-death in recent months (can't tell if that's exactly co-incident with the orientation change), but that could be O/S entropy, too (requiring a scorched-earth reformat-and-reload, dis-ir-regardless of hard drive orientation).

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a c 82 G Storage
April 20, 2013 6:02:18 PM

It doesn't matter, but drives usually are mounted vertically in servers, NAS and SANs. You should look elsewhere for the cause of BSODs.
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May 2, 2013 9:32:54 PM

Since opening this thread, I've since gone back to having my mini-tower case back in the vertical position, and the BSODs have ceased.

My (far-fetched) hypothesis is that a big, heavy PC like this with massive heat sinks & fan systems has a certain "LERP: lumped-element resonance profile (across the mechanical vibration spectrum, DC to > 20 kHz)", and that this LERP is slightly (or maybe considerably?) different if the PC is .....

(a) upright sitting on it's 4 rubber feet vs.
(b) horizontal laying on it's left side (PC's perspective) on a table (with TBD coupling to the room's floor) where the motherboard is "on the bottom" vs.
(c) horizontal laying on it's right side (PC's perspective) on a table (with TBD coupling to the room's floor) where the motherboard is "hanging from the ceiling"

...... which may make the CPU's aggregate logical "state" vulnerable to Piezoelectric-induced upsets.

And, yes, the last few months when my BSODs were plentiful occurred under the (c) condition.

If there's anything to this, it lends credence to the notion of encouraging computer users to keep their towers & mini-towers oriented vertically, but for a reason entirely different than the original hypothesis ( hard-drive platter orientation, and the effects of gravity on the "head" and its' control loop ).
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a c 371 G Storage
May 3, 2013 5:12:33 AM

I'm not sure what you are saying the problem is, but I've had mid-size towers run on their sides for months on end without any blue screens. Also, some of the Dell Poweredge servers we have at work have thier drives mounted vertically with no problems either.
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Best solution

May 3, 2013 9:59:10 PM

beingbobbyorr said:
My (far-fetched) hypothesis is that a big, heavy PC like this with massive heat sinks & fan systems has a certain "LERP: lumped-element resonance profile (across the mechanical vibration spectrum, DC to > 20 kHz)", and that this LERP is slightly (or maybe considerably?) different if the PC is .....

(a) upright sitting on it's 4 rubber feet vs.
(b) horizontal laying on it's left side (PC's perspective) on a table (with TBD coupling to the room's floor) where the motherboard is "on the bottom" vs.
(c) horizontal laying on it's right side (PC's perspective) on a table (with TBD coupling to the room's floor) where the motherboard is "hanging from the ceiling"

...... which may make the CPU's aggregate logical "state" vulnerable to Piezoelectric-induced upsets.

And, yes, the last few months when my BSODs were plentiful occurred under the (c) condition.

If there's anything to this, it lends credence to the notion of encouraging computer users to keep their towers & mini-towers oriented vertically, but for a reason entirely different than the original hypothesis ( hard-drive platter orientation, and the effects of gravity on the "head" and its' control loop ).

Definitely far fetched and likely completely irrelevant.

Cases and motherboards flex when reoriented, possibly disturbing the connections of the sockets for the DIMMs, CPU, and plug-in cards.

Hard disks are unaffected by gravity since the head arm assembly is balanced, though in the past some drives were required to be mounted within 10 degrees of perfectly horizontal or vertical or the front was not allowed to be positioned at the bottom. The heads themselves are completely unaffected by orientation since they're pressed against the platters by springs, which help determine the flying height, and the bearings of the platters can easily withstand the radial load of vertical orientation. Then there's the fact that notebook computers with hard disk drives are used in the weightlessness of the International Space Station.
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May 24, 2013 6:53:08 PM

what would be piezoelectric in a modern computer? only MB clock xtals but they should not affect HDD
if that's the case one would have to think a bad MB .
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