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[IT] Portable USB drives, do they ever spin down?

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by robsalvv, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. G'day nerdriders, as per the question above, do portable USB hard drives ever spin down when plugged in? They aren't designed to spin forever - so if the answer is no, then how do you get them to spin down?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Hm, typically they should respond to your OS' power management settings.

    I personally only use FireWire for portable drives because I'm a USB-hating elitist asshole :angel: , but I know that mine spin down. I could theoretically plug in via USB and see if it spins down or not, happy to check a bit later.
  3. The internal drives in your computers spin all the time; they're designed to do that, and the drives inside external USB cases are the same sort of drive. All HDDs have a three year warranty these days, so even if one fails within that period, you should be able to get it replaced. I had one replaced under warranty even though I had dropped it.....
  4. Only if you have a crappy operating system or not enough memory so its constantly using the HD as virtual memory.

    The desk USB drives (i.e. the 3.5") drives) should have built in power management and spin down. Some come with an application that can interface with the drives to alter these settings. Western Digital come to mind.

    All of the portable USB hard drives (i.e. the laptop 2.5" drives) I've used to date just keep on spinning.
  5. Wrong
    and Wrong.

    They do not spin all the time, and they shouldnt either, unless you have some old dinosaur.
    Only drives that should and are ment to be running full time are enterprise drives - big $$$ compared to your home PC HDD.
    Generally drives in the external cases are cheaper slower drives also, depending on how much you spent though of course.

    Usually from what I've seen the 2.5" (or notebook) sized drives which are powered via USB, will spin full time when they're plugged in.

    The bigger 3.5" (desktop) sized drives that need external 240v power will have power management or use Windows/OS power management and spn down after not being in use for x amount of time.,
  6. I'm talking about the lap top drives, like one of these: (not my hand or drive - just took the pic from a review site)

  7. Short answer - unplug it.

    Those drives are meant for portable storage, not to operate from, and yes you're correct they're not designed to spin forever, which is why they are not meant to be left plugged in full time.

    I have never looked much into it, however some of the more expensive options from the reputable drive brands may have some sort of power managemnent options, but every drive ive seen that's powered only from USB will spin 100% of the time it is plugged in/powered on. Without getting into it I assume this is because the way it draws power from the USB connection, as well as using it for data read/write.
  8. My Toshiba 1 TB USB 3.0 2.5-inch hard drive spins down after a set period of inactivity.
  9. Thanks Fennel.

    I'm reluctant to pull the plug willy nilly though, but on that point, what's the computer doing when you click on the eject or disconnect drive button?
  10. Well if it's formatted NTFS (as most bigger drives are) it finalises any write/cache operations etc cleanly, preventing data corruption.

    For smaller "usb sticks" and drives formatted EXFAT I just rip them out as its not so important, but for NTFS drives it is much better to eject them properly, or one day you'll discover half your data is corrupt.
  11. If you're using Windows (which I assume so as we're talking NTFS) there is a setting you can change that controls whether the drive uses caching or not. Without caching you can just rip it out but access is slower. (that's computer slower, it's still fast from a human perspective).
  12. Is that why portable HDD's are getting so cheap?
  13. prtable hardrives are really just normal laptop drives in a nice case powered by usb
    there getting cheap because of normal reasons , dollar and popularity of laptops etc
    and parts genera;y just get cheaper over time for pc s.

    solid state are a great idea for desktop pc s as well as a main drive for os.
    reliability and speed .
  14. ...but I can expect my laptop drive to last a long time... however I don't have the same expectation from a portable 2.5" USB HDD...
  15. Powered differently, laptops are generally better looked after than a portable HDD.
    Laptop insides generally offer better drive protection than a cheap plastic case