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vertical or horizontal mounted harddrive?

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June 15, 2007 9:03:06 PM

Is there any differance with having the harddisks installed vertically or horizontally? Does it get damaged more easily in vertical position?

Im asking because i am not sure in what way i should install my harddisks in my antec 182 case, there are two hd-cages, one for vertical and one for horizontal installation.
June 15, 2007 10:00:04 PM

I have worked with computers for over 10 years, so I'm fairly experienced - however, I have never heard anything about hdd lifespans in different orientations, other than that you should pick an orientation and stick with it (ie, don't put it in vertically and then after a year make it horizontal). I have no idea whether or not that is true, but if it is the case that, say, parts get worn differently in different orientations and that changing the orientation after a while could cause troubles, I would suggest that it still wouldn't matter enough, considering the lifespan of a hdd (not how long it can last, but how long you will want it to last - 2 years from now your nice hdd will be tiny and dirt cheap, and you may want to replace it just for the sake of reliability).

Personally, I assume that it doesn't matter at all - at least, not with regards to any concerns you mentioned. Cooling is an altogetehr different matter, though. If your hdd is in a verticle position, it will not trap as much air beneath it; this may be beneficial in some cases. With your case, I doubt airflow is going to be an issue, so mount it however you wish ... pick a way that minimized cable clutter.
a b G Storage
June 18, 2007 4:53:30 PM

Doesn't matter how the drives are positioned. mattc is correct in that proper cooling is the main thing to look at. Which way will give better hard drive cooling.
Related resources
August 20, 2009 4:23:37 PM

From my experience it does matter. I will agree that temperature is the first parameter to manage.
I will only buy RAID arrays that have the HDD's mounted Horizontally as the drives last longer.
Try it for yourself with HDD from the same batch number and you will see, just look at the error counts for Horizontal vs Vertical Hard Disk Drives.
End of Story.

MrCyberdude
a b G Storage
August 20, 2009 5:14:17 PM

1) This thread is over 2 years old.

2) It doesn't matter. At all. In fact, most enterprise storage setups (where reliability is absolutely critical) use vertically mounted drives.
a c 415 G Storage
August 20, 2009 9:41:44 PM

+1 to cjl...
August 21, 2009 3:58:24 PM

I was surprised of the lack of comments over 2 years.
"It doesn't matter. At all." hey cjl
Thats what all the HDD reps say. ;) 
As for enterprise storage,
maybe they want to ensure their business model is sustainable.
Who do you work for cjl? WesternDigital, Seagate or the late Maxtor. ;) 

We have PLC's interfacing with PC's used in industrial sites with bad vibration, dust and extreme temperatures and horizontals last longer.

I will agree that there may be little difference for most,
but from experience its always the verticals that go bad first.
Anyone else remember the HP mini workstations that had savage vertical failure problems.

The only consistant answer is that the majority of people will outgrow their storage before they have to worry about errors.
a b G Storage
August 21, 2009 10:13:35 PM

MrCyberdude said:
I was surprised of the lack of comments over 2 years.
"It doesn't matter. At all." hey cjl
Thats what all the HDD reps say. ;) 
As for enterprise storage,
maybe they want to ensure their business model is sustainable.
Who do you work for cjl? WesternDigital, Seagate or the late Maxtor. ;) 

Actually, I'm an Aerospace Engineering student at the University of Colorado. Nice try though.

As for enterprise storage, the hard drive companies aren't the ones who decide that the hard drives should be used vertically in enterprise applications. The system builders do that, and they have a strong interest in making sure everything is as reliable as possible to ensure return business. How many hard drives have you used in order to come to this erroneous conclusion of yours?


MrCyberdude said:

We have PLC's interfacing with PC's used in industrial sites with bad vibration, dust and extreme temperatures and horizontals last longer.

I will agree that there may be little difference for most,
but from experience its always the verticals that go bad first.
Anyone else remember the HP mini workstations that had savage vertical failure problems.

The only consistant answer is that the majority of people will outgrow their storage before they have to worry about errors.

The HP mini workstations might have had heat problems - heat is actually a significant factor in hard drive failure, and if they were mini workstations, it's likely that they put out a decent amount of heat into a small case.
August 22, 2009 5:05:35 AM

:)  My background is electrical and mechanical engineering but Aerospace does sound more Bling Bling. ;) 
As a student I'm sure that you were not responsible for Space Shuttle Columbia's last flight..... Maybe it was your lecturer. ;) 
The point I'm making is not everything is simply o's and 1's often its simply tiny things get missed. In the past I have not been able to find a study paper that actually compared Horizontal vs Vertical otherwise neither of us would be having this discussion.

I actually work with ex British Aerospace personnel that worked on the British Tornado. Before you ask. Yes one is old.

This thread is not exactly on track for Horiz vs Vert but is an interesting read.
http://silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=21533
After reading it PLEASE feel free to post some interesting studies/links if you find some. I really would like to see some empirical data also, not just my own experience.

As for the HP Mini's I cannot remember the model(5+ years ago) but we had something like 200+ of them and you are right that heat was the major factor with them but it was definitely the vertically placed ones that were failing first and the fan were very average.

Although of minor significance but which prompted me too look further into Horizontal vs Vertical is that i have personally had a couple of vertical drives with high error rates with data read issues that i have only been able to retrieve data by placing the drives in the horizontal plane. After retrieving the data the drives have continued to work as video editing scratch pads for a year+ longer. These particular drives were Seagate and also made a humming noise just like a failing capacitor which is what alerted me to the issue in the first place as i thought i had a failing power supply which remained when it was replaced.
The noise completely disappeared when Horizontal. Originally with a 5degree tilt the noise disappeared but returned over a week period.

Anyway advice is like an opinion, take it or leave it...... or do a study and publish the empirical data.
No offense intended :D 
October 8, 2009 6:46:27 PM

VERRY SIMPLE PROBLEM !
THE DRIVE ANDL PLATERSS AT 7200 RPM HAS A GIROSCOPIC STABILISATION EFFECT AND IS NOT AFFECTED .
BUT THE HEAD AND THE BALANCING ARM IS ASIMETRI GARVITATIONAL AFFECTED IF IS NOT HORIZONTAL .
SO CYBERDUDE IS RIGHT . CONGRATULATIONS
Anonymous
a b G Storage
November 30, 2009 6:02:04 PM

I just had the similar problem with Seagate HDD in a HP computer. Cyberdude is 100% right. Thank you for paying attention to this small little thing.
a b G Storage
December 1, 2009 6:22:48 AM

The thing is, he's wrong. Hard drives are more than capable of holding the head up against gravity, and it doesn't make a bit of difference in either their performance or their reliability (and yes, I've looked at the error rates and I've used many hard drives).
a c 353 G Storage
December 1, 2009 1:20:33 PM

Currently using 3 rack mounted computers. These computers are used to interface with a sattelite instrument and are classed as critical flight hardware. The Hard drives are SCSI 2 gigs and are 19 Years old. Used from 90 to 94, placed in storage late 94 and resurrected this year. They are vertically mounted and working, mind you I had to give them a "Calibrated" tap initially to get them going.

Back in the early 90's I had read that the orientation was not an issue; However it should be kept in that orientation. Strickly from a personal stand point ( as I can not point to long term study), I prefer Horizonal.
a c 415 G Storage
December 1, 2009 2:49:33 PM

If orientation was a factor in reliability then it would be mentioned in the drive's spec sheet. Spec sheets list a ton of environmental information such as temperatures, shock, humidity, altitude, etc. - but NOT orientation. Therefore the manufacturers do NOT consider orientation to be significant.

The heads on a drive are actually spring loaded to press AGAINST the platter - it's air pressure from the spinning disc that keeps them flying them a pre-determined distance from the surface. This makes the orientation of the drive irrelevant.
December 2, 2009 7:50:16 AM

sminlal said:
If orientation was a factor in reliability then it would be mentioned in the drive's spec sheet. Spec sheets list a ton of environmental information such as temperatures, shock, humidity, altitude, etc. - but NOT orientation. Therefore the manufacturers do NOT consider orientation to be significant.

The heads on a drive are actually spring loaded to press AGAINST the platter - it's air pressure from the spinning disc that keeps them flying them a pre-determined distance from the surface. This makes the orientation of the drive irrelevant.


Not really .
Not all manufacturers say :
some hdd are silent others make strange noises adepending on buyer luck.
In practice not all hdd are so noisy .
In lcd displays market if you have more dead pixels than 3 or 5 you may replace the product .
If i bought 2 identical hdd for raid0 - one is silent another is not but western digital says : they will replace the noisy-one ONLY if their diagnostic utility give errors . But nothing about silence .
a c 415 G Storage
December 2, 2009 3:19:49 PM

The manufacturers list acceptable environmental conditions so you know how the drive can be treated and still be covered by the warranty. If you run a drive at -20C and it fails, if you try to get it replaced under warranty the manufacturer can point to the spec sheet and tell you that your warranty is void.

The fact that they don't list orientation in the spec sheet shows that they believe the drive is no more likely to fail (and therefore no more likely to require warranty replacement) whether it's run vertically or horizontally.
December 24, 2009 1:28:01 AM

It may make a difference depending on the design of the hard drive because many different parts can fail and for different reasons. The bearings can wear differently and constant operation versus many shutdowns can make a difference. Expansion and contraction is effected. The list goes on and the slight differences in orientation can add up but with so many modes of failure and possible minor manufacturing defects that may be unique to a particular drive or even manufacturing run, do you get the point?

Asking if people tend to get hit in a car accident from the front or the rear would be as complex to honestly answer as the orientation issue. Bad science usually happens because the study and answers are overly simplified instead of discussing how complex the issue truly is. Lawyers are good example of being able to convince people true is false when the real variables are complex and confusing.

I was always told you should have better tires on the front in snow for traction, but it is suggest now the better tires should be on the back to prevent fishtailing. The best answer is if you would sooner be able to get unstuck in deep snow or slide off the road on a curve. Perhaps getting stuck is better than fishtailing off the road over a cliff…

My background is in component level repair for military intelligence and most early failures appeared to be weak components or operator abuse. Old age failures were the same along with wear and tear being a cause. Orientation likely makes a minor difference with heat and everything else having an influence. Even air pressure can effect the life of a hard drive if you read up on their operation.

The truth is not necessarily obvious because despite my technical ability my life has been filled with misinformation and lies given to me which I only learned to question after finding out I was an autistic savant doing a damn good job at pretending to be normal, until it was too hard to pretend anymore. But not having to pretend being a common person has given me more time now to be better at my real abilities. I say it like a snob because I had been blackmailed as being nuts by snobs but it turns out being autistic lets me figure out problems the snobs would be clueless to survive.
a c 415 G Storage
December 24, 2009 3:27:07 PM

nicemikelake said:
I was always told you should have better tires on the front in snow for traction, but it is suggest now the better tires should be on the back to prevent fishtailing.
You put the snow tires on drive axle - front for front-wheel drive, rear for rear-wheel drive.
January 28, 2010 6:11:57 PM

I'm an older man; and based on 31 years in electronics: 1- It does matter vertical or horizontal; But: 2- to know exactly which way: you have to open one drive of they type you want to use for long term and study all the ElectroMECHANICAL components and effects. Just to give u a simple confusion; if horizontal is better for gravity point of view; then you should know that many platters have arms under the plate also; so good for one side, bad for the other, ... and so on.
So to better enjoy your time; Please hop over to http://www.helpingfun.com and give a free token to a hungary child and have fun. Enjoy your life as you have it and don't reduce others' life's enjoyment. thanks.
February 20, 2010 8:11:10 AM

Hello all,

The age-old question: which is better? All products have a life span (goodness... the Earth is slowing down! You think Seagate is going to construct a hard drive that lasts for all-eternity?) and failure curves that reflect a particular view of the product. "Design to failure," all of the engineers out there know that concept. So... just as an example... only Seagate will know the numbers, and their numbers are probably wrong because of all the miss-reporting that is done by clients.

It apears from what I read that failure of a hard drive might not relate directly to the issue of horizontal or vertical distribution of constant forces. The failure of a hard drive in service might be related to a combination of factors. A constant load failure may occur way past the nornal life span in such a small population that it almost does noy exist. That would explain the general lack of agreement on this issue.

Hey... by the time we gather enough valid information to make a decision, we might already be disscusing which lasts longer: 1TB flash drives or just using internal, hard-wired RAM!
Lee Himelfarb
lhimelfarb@hotmail.com
PS- I am a retired... from a few things.
February 28, 2010 9:48:39 PM

Hello,
I have a Dell computer in which the Seagate drive (installed vertically) failed in about 21 months. The WD drive I bought to replace it only mentions horizontal mounting in the literature. The warranty appears to exclude vertical mounting. What gives ?
Thanks,
John Cross
a c 415 G Storage
February 28, 2010 10:30:41 PM

I've never seen any hard drive specifications or warranties which mention mounting orientation. In fact this FAQ article on drive installation on the Western Digital support site specifically says that drives can be mounted in any orientation of the X, Y and Z axes (see section 4). Same with this page on the Seagate support site.

Which model of drive do you have, and can you tell us the language in your warranty which you believe excludes vertical mounting?
February 28, 2010 11:05:52 PM

The FAQ says:
"Do not stand hard drives on their sides."

http://wdc.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/wdc.cfg/php/enduser/pop...!



From the FAQ
How to properly handle Western Digital EIDE and SATA hard drives.

Answer
Hard drives are highly sensitive precision instruments that read, write, and store information on spinning magnetic disks. Special handling is required to protect hard drives from damage. Hard drives can be damaged by excessive physical force or from Electrostatic Discharge (ESD).

Caution: ESD damage is usually invisible to the eye and may not be discovered until much later, either through intermittent performance or failure. By using the proper procedures outlined in this article, you can reduce the chance of hard drive damage by ESD.


Before removing the hard drive from its ESD bag, prepare tools and cables to install.

Keep the hard drive inside the ESD bag until you are ready to physically install the hard drive into the computer system.

Wear a grounding strap if available - especially if near sensitive devices like memory, controller cards, or other electronic boards.

With the computer turned off (but still plugged into the power source), touch bare metal on computer case, then unplug the computer's power cable*.

Do not let others touch the drive.

Hold a hard drive by the sides, taking care not to touch the PCB connectors or Printed Circuit Board assembly.

Install drive without walking on carpet or moving about in any way that generates static electricity.

Do not drop, jolt, or shake a hard drive. This action could damage the internal components of the drive.

Avoid subjecting the hard drive to extreme temperatures.

Do not stack hard drives.

Do not stand hard drives on their sides.

Do not place anything on top of a hard drive.

Never force or hammer a hard drive into a computer bay.

Use caution when installing data and power connectors to avoid damaging connector pins.

Do not obstruct or cover any air filter holes on the drives.

a c 415 G Storage
February 28, 2010 11:42:05 PM

jecross said:
"Do not stand hard drives on their sides."

What they mean is don't do this, because if you knock the drive over it will cause quite a shock to it:



But if you screw the drive into a case vertically so that it's mounted solidly, there's no problem.
March 1, 2010 7:49:14 AM

jecross said:
Hello,
I have a Dell computer in which the Seagate drive (installed vertically) failed in about 21 months. The WD drive I bought to replace it only mentions horizontal mounting in the literature. The warranty appears to exclude vertical mounting. What gives ?
Thanks,
John Cross


Hi John,
Unfortunately, you got the bad one, or a run at the factory never met spec. Your story is not part of the whole population. I saw a hard drive that had actually smoldered! To this day, twenty years later, no one else I have ever spoken with could say the same. I do not even remember the manufacturer.
Good luck, and back up daily to another location!
Lee Himelfarb
February 4, 2011 6:09:39 AM

I have a 2TB seagate 5800 RPM drive that is not a month old. At first it ran fine, then started loading extremely slow and started making clicking noises. Then failed altogether and would not appear in windows at all.
Then i attempted taking the drive and and booted while the drive was horizontal (it was vertical the entire time before) and it boots and runs exactly as it should while it is horizontal but if its is moved vertical it will not appear in windows in any way I've tried.

I can't seem to ignore this, as odd as it seems. Any input?
April 21, 2011 2:35:16 AM

I don't know much about all of this stuff except that it seems that when a hard drive starts crapping out, it starts working much better again after you mount it the opposite way (ie. changing it from horizontal to vertical or vice versa). I have had this experience with multiple hard drives. I think they do wear too much in one position for a length of time. When you change it's orientation, the previous friction wear is no longer an issue as the gravity is now pulling from another direction. Just my two cents on the matter.
May 18, 2011 3:22:30 PM

This is directly from Western Digital's web site



2.Mount the drive in the system


•Desktop Drives: The drive can be mounted in a standard 3.5"device bay. The drive can be mounted sideways, on end, or even upside down as long as the mounting screws are used properly. Use either the four bottom screws or four of the side mounting screws to support the drive. This will prevent vibration and provide additional electrical grounding.


http://wdc.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/981/p/2...


May 26, 2011 12:50:40 PM

I remember google made another study on cooled and not cooled HDD, and it came out it's better NOT to cool your HDD. I don't know if they used individual HDD fans or rack cooking.

From my experience I can tell you that most components are design to work best in an 25°C enviroment. If you have 3 or more HDDs in the same place the middle one might get overheated and break faster. Aslo all components in a small box might heat one another, so a simple airflow might do wonders.
Apple G5 has the best airflow ( http://news.cnet.com/i/ne/p/photo/052805_g5b_500x397.jp... ). My case has just two 120mm @ 1200 RPM fans, one in front and one in back and I'm mostly satisfied. I keep my computer on 24/7, and HDDs don't stop and cool over night, so the temperature is constant all the time. I never had an HDD fail at random, yet.

Horizontal / vertical placement is based entirely on HDDs manufacturer specifications and build quality (and probably luck). I have two Segate Free Agents (external) HDDs (500Gb + 1500Gb) and the 1500Gb makes strange noice if placed verticaly (first month out of the box), while the other one works perfectly in any position, althow it's shape dose not permit horizontal placement, I had it in both positions over an year. Bigger HDDs might be more sensitive to this, since head positioning needs to be more and more precise.

Althow it shouldn't matter, I think horizontal is the safer option, based on the fact that most old computer cases have horizontal mounts for HDDs, and simply because this is the way HDD manufacturers think or thinked. Or maybe they just never bother to consider this small detail in the main HDD design, resulting in some lower quality HDDs that might make noices when used verticaly, exactly like mine dose.
a c 371 G Storage
May 26, 2011 3:05:41 PM

Four years later and people are still responding to this...
September 18, 2011 12:51:42 PM

Hi all, i have 256 MB RAM and 2.4 GHz cpu and running win xp pro sp3, having seagate 160GB hdd IDE ..so my PC gets frequently low on virtual memory, it then starts using space from the hard disk as virtual memory..My hard disk was horizontally mounted with a cooling fan next to it..temperature did not exceed 40 degrees celcius..however at some time in use when i was installing a software for my camera: PMB..for sony cybershot..then the screen froze(virtual memory was low) and i had to reset the pc, unfortunately it froze after everytime it booted.

it froze even when i went on to reinstall windows..when i pressed enter..to install( on the blue screen).it froze..when i pressed R(to repair) it again froze)

the orange led for the hard disk remained constantly bright when the pc froze..and i heard a small mechanical sound like "tak" just before the system froze..so i turned th pc off, removed the ide cables,power cable(for the hdd) and ram..and re plugged them back in..but alas..the system again froze when the pc booted..so next i removed the hard disk and placed it vertically..and booted..and everything worked...but i had to reinstall windows(and could) because some files got corrupted when i did reset the pc several times..now its still in vertical position and working at 35-37 degrees celcius..hope this can help.

ps..when windows had installed hard disk sentinel reported 1 weak sector and 95 read/write errors.i will repair the weak sector with spinrite.
December 30, 2011 11:58:34 AM

Reos said:
Is there any differance with having the harddisks installed vertically or horizontally? Does it get damaged more easily in vertical position?

Im asking because i am not sure in what way i should install my harddisks in my antec 182 case, there are two hd-cages, one for vertical and one for horizontal installation.



>I believe that it does make a difference in mounting. As I understand that with the disc rotating at 7200 rpm it creates a small but powerful wind about this disc which provides a certain amount of lift to the disc. This makes for less contact of the two components to each other which in turn prolongs the lifespan of the hard drive. IF you remember turntables in the stereo world of the past. The turntables were made in such a way that the operator of this device could adjust the weight of the stylus that ran across the records.The goal was to have the least amount of weight riding on the record yet getting as much of the music off the record as possible without it skipping across the album. Since a hard disk has a very thin outer coating and this is what the data is recorded onto. The least amount of friction between these two parts means a longer life for the hard drive. Another bit of information I would be safe to say is that the hard drive was designed to be installed with one side being up so they could calculate the gravitational effects into it and it would be consistent in use..Another point is Western Digital's hard drive's instructions ask that you not stand the hard drive on end.Whether that is only for the time before it actually is installed and the warranty time starts ticking down I can't say. The ultimate for a manufacturer would be for the hard drives to function for the length of time that the warranty is in effect and soon after the end of warranty it would be financially advantageous if their product was to fail which would initiate the sale of an upgraded component to take the place of the dearly departed.
December 30, 2011 12:37:40 PM

jecross said:
Hello,
I have a Dell computer in which the Seagate drive (installed vertically) failed in about 21 months. The WD drive I bought to replace it only mentions horizontal mounting in the literature. The warranty appears to exclude vertical mounting. What gives ?
Thanks,
John Cross
j.e.cross@ieee.org


It appears to me that with that particular install of the hard drive in the Dell it ended in failure.Then with the next one WD by this time had found out that they do fail when stood on end and dont want to be replacing any more than necessary if the expense is going to come out of their pockets. But if a buyer wants to install it into a home project and wants to install it at a 45 degree angle they probably don't care as long as he is buying. I would gladly install it horizontal if it means not having to have it go bad on me and lose time and money. It appears to me that some of the research and development is done by using the product that was sold yesterday, recording the performance of, while it is getting run through the mill by the public, refining it as we move forward and then replacing it with something new and shiny with hidden flaws and start the cycle all over again..
January 21, 2012 2:03:56 PM

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