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Turning off Hard Drive (Selectively) in Win 7, Help Please

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October 14, 2010 9:33:20 PM

Hi guys,

I was hoping you might be able to help me or give me some advice:

I have 4 internal hard drives. I'd like to be able to "turn them off" selectively. In other words, I want my system drive to always remain spinning, but I'd like the other 3 to "turn off". I can't find any way to do this. Using Win 7's power options, I can turn off all drives after X minutes, but I can't ask it to leave my system drive on.

These are SATA drives in AHCI, so they are hot swappable. One option I've found is using the device manager to "disable" the selected drives. This turns them off until I manually "enable" them. Not an ideal situation at all.

Basically I have constraints on power and heat and I just don't use the other 3 drives very often. Seems I should be able to customize this somehow, but my Google is failing me.

ALSO: another related issue... which I fear may sidetrack the discussion from my main question: I've seen a lot of people talk about never turning off your hard disk because it just wears it out spinning up and all. But these comments are usually from the XP days when SATA was new. My current understanding is that modern HDs can be turned on and off without much fear of damage. So I guess what I'm saying is maybe I just shouldn't turn the HDs off EVER?

Thank you very much for your help and insights :) 
October 14, 2010 9:56:16 PM

Hi there,

from what i remember there used to be a utility named wdidle3.exe from which you could set up the head parking delay on the drive individually, it might have more options then this as to the spin down time and more stuff.

For your second question SATA and IDE and XP have no relevance as to the way the actual hardware works. The first two are interfaces the second is an OS.

Trough all these, hard-drives still have Magnetic Disc that spin and heads that read the disks. Not much changed since the first hard drive from a mechanical point of view, they got better, denser, more precise, and they still wear down if you mechanically abuse them by spinning up and down and moving the heads around a lot, and you would not have high expectations if you drop one on concrete from 1m.


If you really don't use the drives you could configure the parameters but remember if you ever decide to use them again you will need to change them back otherwise excessive tear-down will occur if your hdd parks head or spins down every 10-15 seconds.

Also remember if you ever sell them tell the guy so he doesn't use one of those as his OS drive.

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October 15, 2010 12:10:41 AM

Thanks for the reply.

I'm well aware what SATA, IDE and XP are :pt1cable:  but maybe I seemed like a complete newbie from what I wrote. The reason I mentioned XP is that I found a lot of posts saying "don't turn your hard drives off because it creates too much wear and tear and isn't worth it for saving power/heat". These all were from 2005 when the ability to "turn off hard drive" was new. I've seen more recent arguments stating that more modern hard drives are better designed to spin up and down because power saving is desired now and they've adapted their designs to optimize it. So I was curious what people thought of that argument, as I have no clue.

What I'm kind of hoping for is some registry hack or something that tells Win7 to: YES, please spin down my hard drives to save power/heat... but please don't spin down THIS hard drive.
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a c 104 G Storage
October 15, 2010 12:42:31 AM

Hi there,

Depends upon how much you use these "extra" HDDs. I don't think there is a way to spin down HDDs from the OS.

Some of the newer HDD's that are "green", like the WD Caviar Green, spin themselves down when not in use, and back up when you want to read or write to them.

If these are truly not used very often, like for data backup, consider using your system drive and one additional for storage, and just disconnect the power cable from the rarely used drives. Then when you actually need them, manualliy connect the power cable and they will start up like the others.

You wouldn't be using any of these as multi-boot since they would have to be available at the boot menu should you decide to use a different OS.

A reasonable solution for "multiple HDD's" is to purchase a big drive, (1 TB costs about $75 now) and partition it as you see fit to handle your older smaller HDD's. That solution would use only 1 spindle motor rather than multiple, each generating its own heat.

Just having a HDD rotate requires 12V @ 1/2 to 1 Amp, so the power used when they are not reading or writing is 6-12Watts. The PCB uses 5V @ about 1/2 Amp.
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October 21, 2010 11:36:26 AM

misterboy said:
Thanks for the reply.

I'm well aware what SATA, IDE and XP are :pt1cable:  but maybe I seemed like a complete newbie from what I wrote. The reason I mentioned XP is that I found a lot of posts saying "don't turn your hard drives off because it creates too much wear and tear and isn't worth it for saving power/heat". These all were from 2005 when the ability to "turn off hard drive" was new. I've seen more recent arguments stating that more modern hard drives are better designed to spin up and down because power saving is desired now and they've adapted their designs to optimize it. So I was curious what people thought of that argument, as I have no clue.

What I'm kind of hoping for is some registry hack or something that tells Win7 to: YES, please spin down my hard drives to save power/heat... but please don't spin down THIS hard drive.


Dont worry i didnt think your where a newbie but i learned that if i want to talk tech i better not leave any room for interpretation so i try to catch all the information. I also understand what you expect with that registry hack, sadly the spindown you see is not at the OS level even with no OS installed your HDD will spin down as it is at the HDD firmware level. There might be some raid controlers that are able to override this also from the hardware point of view.

The turn off HDD in the OS is just giving an impulse to the HDD controller to put the HDD in spindown mode, i don't know if this can be selectiveley accomplished by the OS. But i do know you can do this from the HDD's firmware level.

Maybe someone else has managed to accomplish what you want from the OS level and they might help you further, i personaly don't know any other way then the firmware modification.

Good luck!
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October 22, 2010 12:37:16 AM

Thanks for the replies, all!

So it seems there is no "easy" way to do this. And I don't think it's worth the effort to hack the drive's firmwares.

I agree that the best solution is to use external exclosures and use eSATA, or else, get a large drive and partition it. The problem is that these drives are all large. So I was hoping for some way to better utilize what I thought was an OS function. Now it may be the case that the OS is simply sending a command to the HDs to spin them down... in which case one would imagine there may be a way to send that signal to specific hard drives at specific times.

But now I have another question: If these spindowns will occur regardless of the OS, does that mean if I set the "Turn off hard drive" setting to "never" that the drives will never spin down, or they will based on their own firmware settings??

If so, maybe I should just leave them set to "never" and they will spin down themselves? But I haven't seen this behavior, though I haven't tested it specifically.

Any more information is greatly appreciated!
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April 11, 2013 6:50:03 PM

misterboy said:
Thanks for the replies, all!

So it seems there is no "easy" way to do this. And I don't think it's worth the effort to hack the drive's firmwares.

I agree that the best solution is to use external exclosures and use eSATA, or else, get a large drive and partition it. The problem is that these drives are all large. So I was hoping for some way to better utilize what I thought was an OS function. Now it may be the case that the OS is simply sending a command to the HDs to spin them down... in which case one would imagine there may be a way to send that signal to specific hard drives at specific times.

But now I have another question: If these spindowns will occur regardless of the OS, does that mean if I set the "Turn off hard drive" setting to "never" that the drives will never spin down, or they will based on their own firmware settings??

If so, maybe I should just leave them set to "never" and they will spin down themselves? But I haven't seen this behavior, though I haven't tested it specifically.

Any more information is greatly appreciated!


I thought about this for a while as I have 6 drives. 2 are SSD's and 4 are HDD's. The only way that I cane up with is to use a single throw double pole switch on the outside of the case. Run the power cable to the switch and then to the HDD. You could get fancy and put an indicator light in the circuit to show which is on and witch is off. You could get really fancy and install a 2 color LED which would be 1 color when on and a different color when off. I never had the time or inclination to do it but it's way neater than pulling the power cord off which it's not designed for and it accomplishes the same thing; cut the power.
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