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Windows 7: Why won't my hard drives spin down after idle period?

09 May 2010   #1

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 / WinXP Pro x86 on (2)
 
 
Why won't my hard drives spin down after idle period?

I have two Windows 7 Pro x64 machines configured very similarly. One has four hard drives (1 SATA for OS and 3 U320 SCSI on Adaptec 39320 adapter in PCI slot) and one has five hard drives (2 SATA and 3 U320 SCSI on 39320 adapter in PCI-X slot). Two different motherboards (ASUS P5Q3 and Supermicro C2SBX). SATA and SCSI drives are all running as individual drives, not RAID. Hard drive Partitions on both machines provide drive letters C-O (with interspersed CD and USB drive letters as well, on both machines).

For some reason, under Windows 7 none of these hard drives on either machine ever spins down for me as I believe they should, after the 15-minute idle period I have specified in the Advanced Options of the "Balanced Power" plan I'm using.

WHY AREN'T THEY SPINNING DOWN??

I used to be all-SCSI before Windows 7, and used Adaptec's EZ-SCSI software under Win98 in order to support the same idle-period based automatic spin-down/spin-up (when subsequently accessed) functionality since Win98 itself did not support this feature. It worked perfectly.

In WinXP the feature was first supported by the OS (plus EZ-SCSI was not usable on WinXP), and it also worked perfectly... exactly as it had under Win98. I had assumed this was a combination of both OS and Adaptec driver capability, but whoever was responsible the function worked as expected.

However in Windows 7 automatic spin-down after the specified idle period is NOT working. I don't know if it's because I now have a mix of SATA and SCSI drives or if it's something else completely unrelated. Whatever the cause, they don't spin down.

WHY NOT? There are no active tasks that are scanning the drives. I do not use Windows 7 indexing. I've updated the SCSI drivers to use the latest Windows 7 official version from Adaptec that was released a few months back.


Now, just today I discovered that there is a wonderful utility named HDDScan that provides all kinds of very nice tests and functions for all kinds of hard drives. In particular, there is the ability to manually spin-down and manually spin-up hard drives of all kinds (both SATA/IDE and SCSI). The product documentation says it works through Vista, but the 3.2 program version I downloaded today actually seems to work perfectly under Windows 7 x64 as well!

Anyway, as an experiment I used it to spin down my three SCSI drives on one machine one at a time, and of course I could hear each drive go quiet as I did.

Then, to see if the drives would spin back up automatically when accessed, I accessed the idled drives sequentially using Explorer and sure enough the Explorer tree view for each drive took a moment to populate as I heard the drive spin back up.

In other words, if I could only get the drives to spin down when not accessed for 15 minutes as I want they would then spin back up automatically the next time they're accessed. This is, of course, EXACTLY how this whole functionality is supposed to work... as it first did via EZ-SCSI on Win98 and then by the OS/drivers under WinXP. And at least the automatic spin-up part seems to work as well under Windows 7... assuming I can get the drives spun down.


Normally, I manually place either or both machines into HIBERNATION when I'm going to be away from them for a while (e.g. overnight). However I would certainly like unused and unaccessed drives to be spun down during the day when I'm using the machine but not that drive. Less noise, less heat, less electricity used.

But coming up, I'm converting one machine to an HTPC with the installation of a new 4-tuner Ceton Cablecard-enabled card. In doing so the machine will now pretty much be on 24/7, which means spinning down idle drives is now really something I want to have work properly.

I suppose I could also set up an auto-hibernate idle period, as one way of putting the machine to sleep completely if no TV recordings are scheduled, as I know that WMC will wake the machine from hibernation a few minutes early in order to make an upcoming scheduled TV recording. However if these recordings go on for hours, I still wouldn't want the unused drives to be spinning needlessly during that time.

So it seems that using HDDScan to manually put idle drives into spin-down state myself (if Windows 7 will not do it for me automatically, as it currently seems not to do) and leaving the HTPC on 24/7 (rather than hibernating) is perhaps my best compromise approach.


Anyway, I'm looking for ideas from others. What could be the explanation (and solution) for why none of my hard drives are spinning down automatically when the idle-period specified in the power plan is reached?

Note that while I experimented today with manual spin-down using HDDScan, I went quite a while without the drives spontaneously spinning back up. Only when I manually spun them back up did they do that. So it's clear there is nothing "periodic" that is accessing them regularly under normal operation and which would explain why they are not spinning down as they should.


Thoughts?

Thanks in advance.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

10 May 2010   #2

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 / WinXP Pro x86 on (2)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by dsperber View Post
Now, just today I discovered that there is a wonderful utility named HDDScan that provides all kinds of very nice tests and functions for all kinds of hard drives. In particular, there is the ability to manually spin-down and manually spin-up hard drives of all kinds (both SATA/IDE and SCSI).
What a terrific change... to finally have the unused inactive drives spun down, even if I have to do it manually myself. It's so much quieter!

Also, these older U320 10Krpm SCSI drives are less energy efficient than the newer SATA drives. So just spinning down 3 of them on one machine reduced my power consumption by almost 40 watts (as measured by my UPS).

What a pleasure. Even if I never figure out why Windows 7 itself is not doing what it's supposed to do, this HDDScan tool is my new solution.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2010   #3

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 / WinXP Pro x86 on (2)
 
 

May have discovered what's been keeping my drives spun up: Windows Search.

Although I didn't actually enable indexing on any folders or drives, it looks like Windows Search is automatically enabled.

I really don't use "search" all that often, and if I do I'm completely willing to just let it take as long as it takes (which is never that long). I'd rather do that occasionally than have the system constantly chugging along using 10% of my CPU plus who knows how much disk I/O to create indexes I'm never going to use. I know exactly where things are on my five hard drives and don't need the assistance of Windows Search and indexes to make my occasional search "lightning fast".

Anyway, I have now disabled the Windows Search service (not just stopped it, but disabled it from starting again).

Tonight, when I launched a program on one machine that triggered Explorer-like file open browsing, I had to wait for a while... presumably while a drive spun back up! I couldn't quite hear it spinning up because of some other ambient noise, but I'm going to pay close attention on my second machine which is in a much quieter environment and has quieter fans, as well as having older and somewhat noisier drives,. I can absolutely hear drives spin down (and up) on that second machine.

So I'm not yet 100% convinced that this is the total explanation for why my drives have not previously been spinning down after 15-minutes of idle like I want, but it looks quite promising.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


31 Oct 2012   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Man, you made my day!

After reading this I've performed a little experiment:
  1. Set spindown time to 1 minute in Windows advanced power options;
  2. Stopped the Windows Search service;
  3. Waited 1 minute and 10 seconds - Nothing happens!
  4. Disabled the Windows Search service;
  5. In exactly one minute the secondary (inactive) drive spins down!!!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
31 Oct 2012   #5

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 / WinXP Pro x86 on (2)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Jexvine View Post
Man, you made my day!

After reading this I've performed a little experiment:
  1. Set spindown time to 1 minute in Windows advanced power options;
  2. Stopped the Windows Search service;
  3. Waited 1 minute and 10 seconds - Nothing happens!
  4. Disabled the Windows Search service;
  5. In exactly one minute the secondary (inactive) drive spins down!!!
On the other hand...

If you use Windows Media Center (as I do in a second machine) for TV/DVR functionality, then you MUST have Windows Search enabled. It is Windows Search which supports the "search" function within the Onscreen Guide for WMC. If you disable Windows Search then the "search" function within WMC simply always returns "not found".

So if you don't use (and don't HAVE TO use) Windows Search, this technique will work. I use "Everything Search" exclusively for my "simple file name" searches, and "Search My Files" for more sophisticated searches. Never use Windows Search.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
31 Oct 2012   #6

WIN7 Ultimate 64bit
 
 

My Western Digital caviar 'blacks' require you to jumper pins 3+4 on the drive for power down/resume. (easily missed on install!)

They do NOT come with a jumper (as oem anyway)

Might help someone who views this thread!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
31 Oct 2012   #7

WIN7 Ultimate 64bit
 
 

My Western Digital caviar 'blacks' require you to jumper pins 3+4 on the drive for power down/resume. (easily missed on install!)

They do NOT come with a jumper (as oem anyway)

Might help someone who views this thread!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Why won't my hard drives spin down after idle period?




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