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I am going to build a server for backups. I want to install the operating system on USB flash disk (a little space), and attach some hard disks for data (much more space needed). Because it is going to be backup, disks will run only once a day. So to save power I want disks to stop (spin off) while not used.

Do I need to buy some special disks for it, or is it enough to configure something in Ubuntu? I want to buy 2.5" disks, also because it is consuming less power.

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Don't forget to put the CPU in a low power mode, too. – Cristian Ciupitu Jul 13 '09 at 14:25
Thanks for the advice. Can you tell how to do it? – amorfis Jul 21 '09 at 13:50
up vote 4 down vote accepted

You can use a linux command hdparm -S

man hdparm
-S : Set the standby (spindown) timeout for the drive. This value is used by the drive to determine how long to wait (with no disk activity) before turning off the spindle motor to save power...

Also look at this question:

What’s the effect of standby (spindown) mode on modern hard drives?

$ sudo hdparm -S 240 /dev/sda1

setting standby to 240 (20 minutes)

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Addendum: Any value from 1 to 240 should work. The disk will go to standbye in a multiple of 5 seconds of that number. (-S240 is standby at 240*5 seconds == 1200 seconds == 20 minutes). – Hennes Mar 2 '13 at 17:37

In Ubuntu it is sufficient to enter:

hdparm -S 240 /dev/yourdisk      # spinoff after 20 minutes
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