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Can HDD Powerdown produce wear on HD's?

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January 8, 2004 1:46:24 AM

Hello. If I have my 24/7 computers set to power down the hard drives after 45min(Set in Power Options in Control Panel) will it produce more wear and tear on the drive heads/platters? I usually have three computers on 24/7; one is my file server with 4 hard drives, another computer is my DL computer with three hard drives, and finally one is just one I usually leave on. The most I use it for is storing Windows cabs so I don't have to put in the CD if I change a setting on one of my comps. So what do you think?

Tavis Curry<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by TC10284 on 01/07/04 10:52 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
January 8, 2004 5:22:12 PM

Yes. Spin-up is the most stressfull operation a drive can do. Drive reliability is often cited in number of spin-ups or start-stop cycles. 20,000 start-stop cycles is 54 years of operation if you just switched your computer on/off once per day. It is also 1 year of operation if you spin-down-spin-up your hard drive 54 times per day. With the setting set to 45-min the maximum number of start-stop cycles you could make per day would be 32 which would give you a theoretical life-span of 1.7 years. You catch my drift? The more start-stop cycles you make the more stressfull it is going to be. If you want to power-down your hard drive (in order to save power) then examine how often you use your computer. Do you access it 1 per day for 5 hours, or 5 times per day for 1 hour? Your usage pattern should determine what settings are best for you.

<A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/myanandtech.html?member=114979" target="_new">My PCs</A> :cool:
January 8, 2004 5:47:21 PM

Yes, I defintley catch your drift. I didn't even think about the stop/start cycles. Krud...

Well, I'm not so much using the powerdown feature to save power, well, maybe a little bit, but mainly to reduce heat. Heat isn't really a problem in my Dual P3 1ghz system but I am trying to keep everything as cool as possible. So maybe I should just forget the powerdown on the HD's because the PIII's run around 35*C with a room temp of 64-70*F regardless of the hard drives being powered down or not.

I usually access my file server randomly during the day since I've been on break from school. I usually transfer stuff from my DL comp. during the day, access drivers and patches from it...things like that...I will probably access it less for a few months until my next break from school. So ya, I think I'll just forget the powerdown now....=)

Tavis Curry
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January 9, 2004 12:44:56 AM

So lets say when you put your computer on stand by, does the hard drive go thru the spin-up cycle again when you wake it up?

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by yin on 01/08/04 09:45 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
January 9, 2004 1:05:21 AM

Whenever I've put my comp(s) in stand by I heard the HDs spin down, then wake it up again I do hear the HDs spin up again.

Tavis Curry
January 9, 2004 3:02:09 AM

Yes it may increase wear, but usually not enough to cause undue concern. Excess heat can also reduce your drives life expectancy and shutting down will give it a chance to cool off.

I remember there was a controversly about one model of IBM hard drive which was only under warantee for up to 8 hours of use per day. Apparently the failure rate increased dramatically for those leaving it on 24/7 so they snuck that clause in.

So apparently with at least some drives always on means more wear than on and off :) 

So if you have a compelling reason to have your harddive power down (noise reduction) go ahead and do so. Just don't have it set to turn off every 15 minutes.

Pesonally I just use a case with fans in front of the hard drive cage.
January 9, 2004 3:30:02 AM

Ya, wasn't it the 75GXP? I remember reading about that in Maximum PC.

I do have cases with a fan blowing on the HDs but not in this particular case(sounds bad for a file server doesn't it hehe). Well......I guess what is a suggested shutdown time? =)

Tavis Curry
January 9, 2004 5:14:25 AM

That depends on your usage patters. If you use the computer twice a day for two hour streches then set it to shutdown after two hours.

If you use it on and off all day then maybe you want to disable the feature to avoid 54 startups :) 

Or just leave empty spaces between drives (works if you have a 5 or 6 disc cage). Maybe get a quiet 120mm fan and make strategic use of duct tape.

Better yet if the thought of losting a hard drive and all the data on it terrifies you, buy another hard drive and a cheap $20 raid card (if your MB doesn't have one). Mirror them. If one drive fails call the manufacurer and have them advance ship you a new one. Ship the defective one back in their box.
January 9, 2004 3:49:52 PM

So how can I find out what drives are suitable for leaving on 24/7 and turned on/off at least 2-3 times a day? I think my drive has problems because when i start it up i hear a very loud grind noise or something from my HD after 1-3mins, it stops
January 9, 2004 4:30:57 PM

All currently manufacturered hard drives are suitable for 24/7 use or usage where they are turned on/off 2-3 times a day. Both of these are normal usage. That isn't to say some drives don't have higher failure rates than others or will work longer 24/7 than others. Faster spinning drives are usually rated with less spin-up-spin-down cycles because of the increased stress involved in accelerating to high-speed.

If your drive has started to make unusual noises then that is a good indication that it is nearing the end of its life. I highly advise transferring all critical data off that drive immeadiately. Of course, you already have all your critical data backed up anyway right?

<A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/myanandtech.html?member=114979" target="_new">My PCs</A> :cool:
January 9, 2004 5:33:04 PM

All drives should be suitable for 24/7 operation. Personally I only buy drives with a three year warantee. I stick to Western Digital and Maxtor. When my WD drive started to act weird they sent me a new one without any fuss. They even advance replaced the replacement so I could copy over my data.

When my IBM went bad they wouldn't replace it even though it was under warantee, then they started getting bad press and finally they handed their business over to Hitachi.

Turn SMART on in your BIOS, often it will give you a warning when a hard drive is starting to die.
January 9, 2004 7:18:56 PM

Yep, I use SMART on all my comps that have it with SMART capable drives. I would backup my data but I have so much that it is already spanned over a Samsung 5400RPM 160GB HD(BTW, are Samsungs good drives? I've had mine for more than 6 months probably and haven't had a problem with it) and a Western Digital 7200RPM 100GB HD. They aren't both full but I don't have much of a way to back it up.

One question I'd like to ask however. If one of those HD's were to die and you have some files on it that you don't want the manufacturer to find if they were to run a recovery prog. on the drive, what would you do? I know manufacturers don't do data recovery or cover data loss, but what if they did it just for the heck of it? And no, I'm not talking about pr0n or illegal pr0n >8). I mean other...files....=)

Also, if your HD is making a grinding noise when it first spins up and then stops, that sounds like the bearings are going bad. I agree that you should back up your data immediately and replace the drive if it is under warranty or purchase a new HD.

Tavis Curry<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by TC10284 on 01/09/04 04:21 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
January 9, 2004 10:21:20 PM

If you hard disk physically dies you can't get the data off unless you go to a commercial recovery place and then it'll cost you $1000 minimum. Can better spend $100 now and save yourself alot of headache.

If you want secure data keep it as NTFS encrypted files.

<A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/myanandtech.html?member=114979" target="_new">My PCs</A> :cool:
January 9, 2004 11:12:34 PM

No no....=)

That's not what I meant hehe. I know that data recovery places are expensive...but I mean...what would happen if the HD manufacturer attempted to do this on one of your HD's and recovered questionable files?

But if I encrypt my files will that require me to put in a password when I access them? Also, if I reformat the HD with the OS on it, will I be able to access the files after I reformat?

Tavis Curry<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by TC10284 on 01/09/04 08:24 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
January 10, 2004 8:38:15 AM

> Can HDD Powerdown produce wear on HD's?

Powerdown does not produce wear on HD's.

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