General discussion

Spin-down external hard drive?

Hi, I just bought an 160gb WD hard drive, stuck it in a nice little enclosure (USB) and it's changed my life.
My question is this:
With my set up (or similar set-ups), running WinXP is there any way for me to spin down my hard drive?
The enclosure has a on/off switch, but I always feel a bit worried when I just switch it off...maybe this isn't a something for me to worry about though?
Anyway, I guess really my question is: what's the best way to manage an external hard drive? Is there an application out there that will spin-down the drive when it's not being accessed?
Right. Hope that's clear. Would be grateful if anyone has any ideas (esp. any recommendations re: management applications).

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spin down...

You should be able to "spin down" the drive without anything happening. You should get a bubble message showing so. Mine does. You can even "hot swap" the drive. Disconnect the USB cable and power cable so you can get the drive out of the way.

and life goes on...


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Helpful safety hint. . .

Make sure you have the power cord plugged and the switch turned off before you plug in the USB cord. Then plug in the USB cord, then power up the drive.

Stray static may cause the PC to reboot if you plug in the USB cord first. The power cord will dishcharge any stray static if plugged in first. Don't ask me how I know.


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another try at my question...

How do I get the bubble that allows me to spin-down (not just 'safely disconnect'?
I'm just using a generic (DIY) USB HDD enclosure (with an on/off switch); in the enclosure is a WD 160gb drive; I'm not using any special drivers or hard drive management. I'm running Windows XP and it automatically (plug n play) recognizes the drive and allows me to 'safely disconnect' it before I turn it off. In case I was unclear:
1) I'm wondering whether there is any risk in just turning my drive off (with the on/off switch, after I've 'safely disconnected' it)? It just feels like I'm doing something wrong when I turn the drive off before it spins-down.
2) I'm wondering if there is any program that exists that manages external hard drives - i.e. that will 'spin-down' the drive when it's not being accessed and that will 'spin-down' the drive before I turn it off. Does this software exist?
Also: to the person who has a pop-up bubble asking if you want to spin-down the drive: do you have any software installed that does this? Is your drive a ready-made external hard drive (i.e. maxtor one-touch or etc.)?
Thanks again everyone!

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Won't hurt a thing. . .

When you ''Safely remove hardware'' the drive is then ''spun down''. After you have removed it, just turn the drive off with the on/off switch and remove it.

I've not seen any specific software for doing this.

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but it doesn't spin down!

My problem is exactly that. When I "safely disconnect" my drive, it doesn't keeps spining as quickly as it always does. When I switch it off I am switching it off at full spin speed. Though I'm not switching it off when it's reading/writing, I still can't help but think that it's doing damage to my drive...especially as all the ready-made external hard drives seem to have built in utilities taht spin down your drive before disconnecting.
WD relased a separate utility for exactly this reason, but it doesn't work for me (it's only for ready-made external drives, I think). So, if any one has any tips on how to force my drive to spin down - whihc it doesn't do when I disconnect it - still would appreciate them.
Thanks for all your help already, guys!!

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OK..I see some confusion...both ways..

First of all.. DO NOTever disconnect anything while the drive is busy. Always make sure the application that used it is no longer active.

That said, there are two cables going to the external drive. If you disconnect only the USB cable, all you are doing is breaking the data connection. The drive can no longer communicate with the rest of the computer. The drive will, however, still be powered-up and spinning. The switch shuts the power off, thus the drive is no longer spinning. If the switch does not power off the drive then the switch is bad and you should replace the enclosure. Does this make sense now?

and life goes on...


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i got the same worries too

i dont think this what he meant as i have an external drive too i always wonder if it safe to just turn off switch just like that even when click safely remove drive from windows. when windows is hutting down u can hear the drive inside the computer slowing down and then it goes off(sometimes i hear it on some computers), but when u have an external drive enclosure and u turn it off it turns off abruptly and it just sounds wrong like as if something is going to get damage eventually. So he is wondering if there is anything that can let the drive slow it self down before turning off the switch. this would help me alot too as i too have external drive enclosure with WD 250 Gig and i would hat for anything to happen to it

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What you are hearing are the heads locking in safe mode (not to be confused with Window's Safe Mode). This is called "parking the heads" away from the platters so moving the drive won't allow the heads to touch the platters. The tolerance for the space between the heads and platters is so tight that if you were to blow smoke at them, the heads would crash.

So, I state again, it is safe to shut down the power while the drive is spinning. The same thing happens when you shut off the computer. The hard drive heads "park" first before spinning down. You just can't hear them because of the computer case. On some you can hear them.

and life goes on...


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Agreed. . .

Just use the System Tray to disconnect the drive, then unplug the USB cable, then turn the drive off. I've been doing it this way for years.

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thanks and what about...?

Thanks a lot for your help, guys!
I guess I'm not very good at being clear.
One of the reasons I asked is that many (most) of the ready-made external hard drives - like the ones put out by seagate, maxtor (one-touch), etc etc. - have a spin-down function built into them. This is to say taht when you're not using the drive, the drive slows down and sleeps until you use it again. Similarly, when you disconnect the drive, it first spins down, then powers off. This is always promoted as a drive preserving advantage of these ready-made external HDs and I guess I was just wondering if there is a way to do the same thing with a DIY external hard drive (i.e. a conventional hard drive stuck in a generic enclosure). After doing a lot of looking around, it seems that it's not likely. WD does offer a spin-down/stop utility application that allows you to put your ext. drive in a sleep mode and to spin down before power-down...but it doesn't work for me. (I think this app. is only intended for ready-made WD external hard drives).
Anyway, my sense, after all this discussion and my substantial poking around is that it's not possible to do with software.
But, as you say, maybe it's not a big deal anyway...I just always feel bad when I switch off my drive when it's spinning away (even if it's not actually working).
I guess I'll have to get used to it though.
Thanks again guys!!

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If I'm not mistaken, you are talking about a power management function. Laptops use it to conserve battery and desktops use it to conserve electricity and reduce heat (laptops too). I found this: ?channelpath=/en_us/Products/External%20Storage/OneTouch%20II%20Family/Maxtor%20OneTouch%20II %20FireWire%20and%20USB&productview=Features

This comes with a power management utility. Google said it has a ''spindown'' functions. I can only assume that if one manufacturer is doing this the others are. More research will have to be done by you. At least I think we answered your initial question, right?

and life goes on...


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Working HD movie
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A definitive answer

I think this link answers Justin's question. Obviously not for his benefit: I'm sure he's moved on in the past five months. But for anyone who does a search with similar concerns, and doesn't find the thread answers the fundamental question.

The bottom line is that "head parking utilities" are no longer necessary because of the way hard drives are manufactured now. But these guys explain it more completely and eloquently (pay particular attention to paragraphs 4 and 5):

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Spin Down

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