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I've got a Win XP Pro machine that we're using as a Server. It's mostly used during the day (and early evening for backups) but can be on for days at a time.

To reduce power consumption and extend the HD life, I'm setting the HD to automatically turn off after X hours. I've read that there is a "cost" (in power and wear & tear on the HD) of spinning up the HD.

So I'm wondering how long I should set that pause for .

I guess one way to look at it is Return on Investment (ROI) : If I turn off the disk how long does it need to be off to break even on the spin up cost (in wear and tear and power)?

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5 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Constantly stopping and starting your disk in this way can take it's toll. I agree with the power reduction but you may well cause your disk to fail prematurely with the constant fluctuation in temperature. If you want them to shut off over night then it might be an idea to set the shut-off to about 1 hour.

I've recently moved a lot of our data from SATA drives onto SSD which is proving quite useful with the amount of traffic on the drives. Less power hungry and with no moving parts you're less likely to have the same kinds of problems. Still new tech at the minute but I thought it might be worth looking at. So far, so good.

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Just my two cents: reducing power-consumption: okay, but extending the life-time? I guess that spinning up and slowing down the HD will burn it out much faster.

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On servers we never turn the hard drives off. If you insist on doing it, the mileage would vary based on your specific scenario and needs. Bottom line, I wouldn't do it, nor recommend it, but if you still want to do it, you will be the one better suited to figure it out.

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+1: Over the long term, the energy savings just don't seem worth it. Not to mention that the OS still "works" in the background even if your apps don't. This could cause problems. We turn all those "features" off. –  John Virgolino May 14 '09 at 21:16
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Apparently Google did a study that showed that if a HD doesn't fail in the first year it'll have a long life, but they were runnng their HD's 24/7. That suggests that running them constantly is a good thing

http://ask-leo.com/should_i_turn_off_my_external_hard_drive_when_not_in_use.html

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Power management on Windows XP is a waste of time unless you buy 3rd party products to take care of all of the things that don't work. Buggy drivers, open network files, etc will all stop most XP power management features.

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