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I recently got myself a Seagate Free Agent Go 500GB USB hard-disk drive for use with my Fedora 12 workstation.

The device is USB powered and looks very small and delicate to me.

Can I,

  1. ... leave this connected 24x7 to my Fedora workstation? Or, should I unplug it / turn it off when not actively using it, in order to prolong the device's life?

  2. ... cold reboot my workstation (with this HDD connected) without damaging the HDD? Or, should I always unplug it and only then reboot?


  1. Are there any special commands / options in the Linux toolset that I could use to get maximum performance and less wear & tear from this device? Anything I should not do to decrease its lifespan, etc.

I'm asking all these questions because I was using Western Digital MyBook (250GB) for about 2 years, and it suddenly developed problems a few days back with Linux not anymore recognizing it on plug in. I eventually had to disassemble the external HDD and extract the IDE drive out of it. Now, I used to leave this device connected 24x7, and used to reboot my workstation with it connected... so I'm not sure if it broke down because of this usage pattern of mine!

I'm posting this question to this forum because many system administrators and power users of server-side hardware and software would have great knowledge and insight on how not to break the peripherals connected to their machines, how to prolong the device life, how to get maximum performance out of the device, etc.

Many thanks,


EDIT: The only green LED on this HDD is always on, even when I'm not reading/writing from/to it. So, I'm not sure if its disk inside is always spinning just by virtue of the external HDD being hooked on to the workstation.

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I would recommend configuring Fedora to spin the disk down when it is not in use. If you do this there is no reason why you shouldnt leave the drive attached 24x7. You can enable the power management options and select the option to spin down the drive - various options are here link text

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Thanks, Chris! +1. – Harry Dec 12 '10 at 5:30

Spinning down the disk is, I guess, a matter of opinion. Most of my Linux boxes are servers (whether built for it or not) so my expectation has always been that disks will be spinning 24x365.

USB disks are, from Linux's perspective, more or less the same as any other disk drive. Same tools, read from and written to in more or less the same way.

All that being said, I've used lots of external HDDs, both the MyBook and some other designs. Overall, I've found that they all tend to overheat and have disk failures sooner than the IDE disks should fail. My recommendation would be to buy an normal (internal) disk drive, and either buy a well-ventilated IDE (or SATA) to USB enclosure, or buy one of the open-air SATA drive docks.

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