General discussion

Power control: turning off hard disk; what does that mean?

Aug 18, 2005 3:10AM PDT

I'm sure that differs from standby but I don't understand what it does. I presume it doesn't shut down the computer. Whatever it does, what do I do to turn the hard disk back on? Thanks, grandpaw

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Aug 18, 2005 3:34AM PDT

Using a Google Search, there are lots of information about your question... I come up with the link below which indicates:

Turn off hard disk ? Turns off the hard-disk drive so that the computer uses less power. You can press any key to turn on the hard-disk drive. The Windows desktop is restored exactly as it appeared before the hard-disk drive was turned off.

System Standby ? Turns off monitor, stops the hard-disk drive, and turns off other internal devices so that the computer uses less power. When the computer resumes from standby mode, the Windows desktop is restored exactly as it appeared prior to entering standby mode.

Hope this helps.


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Now I got the answer
Aug 19, 2005 9:41AM PDT

Grif, I see there is no definite answer. So I went through the scenario below and arrived at the very best technical and practical answer that all computer users, noice, midway, or expert, should use. I recommend it. And to Bob: no, it's not your choice; do what I tell you.

Should you turn off the hard drive?
Answer: yes, no and maybe.

If you do, will it hurt the computer?
Answer: yes, no and maybe

Should you use standby?
Answer: yes, no and maybe

What about hibernation?
Answer: you guessed it.

So, I decided to go high tech and flip a coin. What did the coin tell me? You won't believe this: yes, no and maybe. Throwing darts worked a little better. The answer there is, suit yourself.

Conclusion: leave the computer running during the day if you expect you might be using it off and on. Turn it off at night and if you don't expect to use it during the day.

Is this the best way? Yes,no and maybe.

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Actually a brilliant analysis.
Aug 19, 2005 10:07AM PDT

I use the same way as you decided.

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HD not needed in Hibernation
Aug 19, 2005 10:08AM PDT

Gramps, to try and explain without too much BS. As you know the hard drive is a spinning mechanism. If you don't need it spinning then there is no need for it to be spinning. There is wear and tear involved with spinning, as there is in getting it up to speed. What is that point of trade off? NO ONE can tell you that.

I would put a rough guess, that if you have not used the drive in the past 10 minutes, then it might be reasonable to turn off the power to it. However, unless you are talking about laptop computers there is very little advantage in turning off the hard drive during even longer periods of times.

So, for desktop computers I would usually not even worry about turning off the hard drive. The bearing mechanism in today's hard drives is sealed to a point where the wear in not even worth worrying about anymore.

For desktops, if I were to used some time to turn off the HD, I would put a shut-off time in the order of an hour or more. I figured that if I haven't accessed the hard drive in the past hour, I probably have gone to bed.

What happens, what are the disadvantages, of having the hard drive de-powered, and you need something off the hard drive? Simply that it will take an extra second or two to get to the data. Big deal. I am not in that much of a hurry, that an extra second is going to make me miss a schedule. Besides, with a HD turn-off time in the 10 to 60 minute range, it is most likely that the hard drive was accessed in less time than that, if I was actually using the computer, anyway.

About turning off the hard drive in hibernation, I don't think you have a choice anyway. I think it ALWAYS de-powers when hibernation is performed. It makes no sense to have the hard drive going otherwise. Hibernation is where the computer copies the entire real RAM memory image out as a single file to the hard drive. All for the express purpose of being able to remove ALL POWER from the computer.

Hibernation is different from Stand-by. Stand-by is where a small amount of memory power and cycling is maintained to keep the data in RAM. Even then, even in Stand-by, the spinning of the hard drive is not necessary. The hard drive is not needed to be accessed in Stand-by, and it definitely is not needed, for any reason, in Hibernation.

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Chuck, thanks for taking the time
Aug 20, 2005 3:09AM PDT

I appreciate it and I'm taking your comments into account. grandpaw

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I understand now
Mar 9, 2011 11:20AM PST

Wow, finally a definition for the technologically challenged.

Chuck, thank you for taking the time to explain what the setting means. Now I can make a choice instead of "throwing darts" or "flipping a coin".

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What about when I'm downloading stuff while I go to sleep?
Apr 17, 2016 4:40PM PDT

I usually leave downloads running when I go to sleep, and lock the user screen, the computer isn't sleeping just locked so it works fine, the files keep downloading until I wake up, even though I just noticed that my have this laptop "turn off HDD disk after 20 minutes" setting even on high performance mode for the last two years (since I bought it.)

So I'm guessing the computer is smart enough to know that my HDD is busy with downloads even though I haven't touched it for hours and it doesn't turn off the HDD after 20 minutes, is this what happens? I'm just asking because I'm unsure if I want to disable the auto turn off HDD setting or not. I never even noticed that setting until today and I don't think it ever bothered me. I think I will leave it on.

I'm guessing the worst case scenario in my specific case would be something like a download X finishes while I'm sleeping, and the hdd stays inactive for more than 20 minutes before download Y starts for some reason (let's the internet goes down for 25 minutes) then the computer would shut off the HDD and it wouldn't start downloading Y until I woke up and pressed a key on my computer. I think that has happened before, or maybe I just have a silly imagination.

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The Easiest Solution...
Apr 20, 2016 11:07AM PDT

...change the "Turn Hard disk off" setting to "never" when you know you'll be downloading something during a period of your absence.

As a system admin, we left some computers running constantly ("Never" on the setting) because they needed to be running at night....and others were turned off at night, but all computers were set at "Never". It's been discussed many times but basically, it doesn't harm the hard drive to leave it running.

Hope this helps.


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(NT) (NT) Grandpaw, I Also Use Just As You Decided!
Aug 19, 2005 11:27AM PDT
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Now I got the?
Aug 19, 2005 5:32PM PDT

Flipping your two-headed coin will not work. You're cheating!
Stick with throwing the darts. Works better.
One year I took a football betting playing card and tossed darts at it. Recorded 5 direct hits with the darts and placed a $5 bet. The winnings would be $50.
Did the dart routine all seasom. Results: I was the top winner with five cards. Not the top winner in terms of money in our area, but the most consistant winner.
Beats your two-headed coin! Plus I won $250 for the season.
And by the way, Grandpaw, never hybernate. You may never wake up!
Hope this info helps, also to Rip Van Wrinkle.


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There is a setting. . .
Aug 19, 2005 7:57PM PDT

in Control Panel, Power options, for the HD on/off.

I have mine set to never.

I do the same, PC on while I'm home, off at night.

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I've always known I was brilliant
Aug 20, 2005 3:16AM PDT

but in the past it's always been about sex. Now I am brilliant about computers.

Good point about hibernation. These days, when I take a nap, I always leave my will on the bedside table.

I'm still trying to figure out how Kevin found out about the two headed coin. I guess I better start using the two tailed coin, although that sounds kind of nasty.

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