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Windows 7: Can non-system [storage only] HDDs be powered down?


01 Aug 2010   #1

Win 7
 
 
Can non-system [storage only] HDDs be powered down?

Do non-system hard drives automatically power down after x minutes of not being used? I've got 3 storage-only drives that I access very rarely, so as to conserve energy + reduce noise/heat I'd prefer to keep them powered down until I click on the specific drive in Windows Explorer.

It's possible that modern drives have this function and are at idle when not in use. If so, after how many minutes of non-use do they power down? Can this number be changed in the BIOS, for example? User software?

Thanks in advance.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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01 Aug 2010   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower
 
 

The settings for turning off drives after so many minutes of inactivity is set in the power option plan you have set. There are three main power themes and the option to create your own custom power plan as well.

For an absolute turn drive off when not used having external drives or drives in external enclosures like fan cooled with an on/off switch would certainly solve any concerns on this. When not in use simply click the remove hardware safety icon in the system notification area to "eject" the external drive enclosure before turning the switch off.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Aug 2010   #3

Win 7
 
 

Sorry, but power options allow the user to determine when to turn off the monitor and when to put the computer to sleep. There is no option to sleep/idle unused drives. In other words, it's all or nothing. If I've missed something, please let me know.

I currently use 3 e-Sata drives in enclosures and yes, I able to turn those off when they're not in use.

Additional thoughts appreciated.
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02 Aug 2010   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

Actually, I believe this is done automatically as every time I try to access data from my storage drives after not using it a while, I can hear it spin up. I may be wrong on this however.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Aug 2010   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower
 
 

You first have to go into the advanced settings for this not just the first screen when selecting the power plan you have set. The advanced settings will see a second pop up type screen appear as the image here shows for changing the amount of time before turing the drives off.

There are also methods for exporting and then importing the custom configured power plan to be made the default for all plans once you have everything in the advanced set there. This would insure each plan knew when to turn the ide drives off.

The power switch on the external enclosures is a plus for those drives for instance when not planning to access them for a full day you wouldn't need them even turned on. I tend to switch the enclosure off here when not in use mainly from having other secondary drives installed internally.


Attached Thumbnails
Can non-system [storage only] HDDs be powered down?-power-plan-hd-setting.jpg  
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Aug 2010   #6

Windows 7 Ultimate (x64)
 
 

I'm not sure that any confirmation is needed, but what Night Hawk said is absolutely correct. Setting the "Turn off hard disk after" to the desired time interval will do what you want - the drives that are not currently in use will be powered down. If you access them later, you will experience a slight delay in Explorer and hear them spin up. This is because starting them up requires a bit of time.

At the same time, your system drive is almost always in use, especially if your page file is on it. So this setting is most effective on additional drives.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Aug 2010   #7

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower
 
 

Even when not running any programs and the system is simply sitting idle the SuperFetch process along with other background services will keep the host OS drive active there. In fact the typical usb external will be switched off by Windows after so long even with the power plan set to never turn disks off. One good answer for that is simply to "Ask Leo".

Should I turn off my external hard drive when not in use?

Quote:
I'm just curious if an external hard drive is less likely to die if you don't always keep it on and only turn it on for short periods of time a day? Because I have 3 external drives and I only turn them on when I need to use them instead of keeping them always on.

Short answer: no.

However, as is so often the case, the answer is never really that simple. It really depends on a bunch of other factors as well.
The irony where someone else also has 3 external drives saw a simple answer there.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Aug 2010   #8

Win 7
 
 

Thanks Night Hawk and unifex. Lots of good information -- although after reading the Ask Leo article I can better understand the case for leaving the drives on. Food for thought. . . .

I've now got to wonder if using the advanced power option to idle unused drives is such a good idea, particularly as they may be accessed once or twice during the day.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Aug 2010   #9

Windows 7 Ultimate (x64)
 
 

As the article says - it depends on how you are using your drives. My external drive is used primarily for storage. Sometimes I don't turn it on for days or even weeks. It would be a waste to keep it running all that time. If however you use yours just as another drive and access it daily, then maybe you want to keep them running.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Aug 2010   #10

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower
 
 

Here I have a pair of Sata III drives with used for main storage and the other for system images along with VHDs of all things that can chew drive space real fast but are onhand all the time.

Another drive presently sits in an enclosure with that turned off until needed for adding a few more files or retrieving some from it simply to have onhand on one of the internal HDs. I can simply wipe that one at any time if no replacement board of the same make and model is found for the old case explaining why it still has anything on it presently.

The only thing about turning them on and off constantly is seeing the need to restart message due to hardware change if you forget to click on the Safely Remove icon in the system tray there right before turning it off. When starting up without having done that the message appears notifying you of a hardware change.
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 Can non-system [storage only] HDDs be powered down?




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