auto power down of external hard drives

Special K

Diamond Member
Jun 18, 2000
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I want to buy an internal hard drive and an external enclosure to use for automated backups. Normally internal hard drives will automatically power down after a time interval specified in Windows' power management settings. Can something similar be configured for external hard drives and/or internal hard drives with external enclosures? It seems most of them have their own external AC power supply, but couldn't the OS theoretically send a command over USB instructing the drive to power up/down?

Because this drive will only be used for backup purposes, I see no reason to have it running all the time. Ideally it would be powered down unless the backup script was running or I was manually accessing the drive.

Is it possible to configure something like this?
 

C1

Platinum Member
Feb 21, 2008
2,279
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91
Actually, I have a bunch of 2.5" external drives that I set up that do exactly what you are describing. By choosing a suitable enclosure with the proper electronics will provide the result you are looking for. Presumably in your case you are looking for an enclosure for a full sized 3.5" drive. I dont have a 3.5" brand/model in mind, but check on NE along with the user reviews. You can always just buy an already integrated whole external that comes the way you want (eg, purchase out of Fry's Electronics; all my 3.5" 2TB Hitachi externals are set up to shut off after 9 minutes of no access; if you want to keep them continually active then just use "softjock's MDIS" which is free download).
 

Special K

Diamond Member
Jun 18, 2000
7,098
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76
Actually, I have a bunch of 2.5" external drives that I set up that do exactly what you are describing. By choosing a suitable enclosure with the proper electronics will provide the result you are looking for. Presumably in your case you are looking for an enclosure for a full sized 3.5" drive. I dont have a 3.5" brand/model in mind, but check on NE along with the user reviews. You can always just buy an already integrated whole external that comes the way you want (eg, purchase out of Fry's Electronics; all my 3.5" 2TB Hitachi externals are set up to shut off after 9 minutes of no access; if you want to keep them continually active then just use "softjock's MDIS" which is free download).
I can't find any specific mention of this feature on Newegg.

I did some more searching on Google and Newegg and some articles/message board posts suggest Windows can automatically power down/up USB external hard drives, but nothing seems confirmed. I'm also not sure about the eSATA interface.
 

bbhaag

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2011
6,131
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I have a 500gig external FD green drive that automatically powers down after a period of no use. I didn't use any special drivers or apps that came with the hdd. I basically just plugged it in and let Windows do the rest.
It did this on both Win7 ultimate and I upgraded to Win8 pro and on both os's the drive powers down when not in use.

Edit:It uses usb 2.0.
 

taltamir

Lifer
Mar 21, 2004
13,576
6
76
I can't find any specific mention of this feature on Newegg.
AFAIK this is because that feature doesn't exist.
It theoretically can exist, but external enclosures are cheap POS and should be avoided.

What you should use instead is an external dock, a dock would connect the drive directly to the mobo, thus you would enjoy the superior controller that came with the mobo which would include said feature.

Personally I don't even use a dock, I use:
http://www.meritline.com/2-port-esata-bracket-with-4-pin-power---p-34792.aspx?source=fghdac&gclid=CIHfgIvNjbUCFSemPAodDmUA9A
(mine came free with a mobo I once bought. this is just the first suitable bracket I found on a quick google search... might be a cheaper / better one out there if you search for brackets)
 
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corkyg

Elite Member | Peripherals
Super Moderator
Mar 4, 2000
27,370
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My external HDD is always OFF unless I wish to use it. It is connected to my switchbox, and is a simple toggle on/off. I do not trust anything automatic, so when I want to back up I just turn it on. Otherwise it is OFF. That keeps things simple. BTW - it is an eSATA connection.
 

Special K

Diamond Member
Jun 18, 2000
7,098
0
76
AFAIK this is because that feature doesn't exist.
It theoretically can exist, but external enclosures are cheap POS and should be avoided.

What you should use instead is an external dock, a dock would connect the drive directly to the mobo, thus you would enjoy the superior controller that came with the mobo which would include said feature.

Personally I don't even use a dock, I use:
http://www.meritline.com/2-port-esata-bracket-with-4-pin-power---p-34792.aspx?source=fghdac&gclid=CIHfgIvNjbUCFSemPAodDmUA9A
(mine came free with a mobo I once bought. this is just the first suitable bracket I found on a quick google search... might be a cheaper / better one out there if you search for brackets)
Wouldn't an enclosure with an eSATA port provide the same type of connection as that bracket?
 

groberts101

Golden Member
Mar 17, 2011
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there are two variables to consider here. The host can only take som much control of the drives built in firmware algorithms.

IOW, and as some have already said, the drive will power/spin down based on it's firmware's inherent "green'ness" regardless of what the OS/bios tells it to do through APM/ACPI settings.

A happy medium is all we can ever hope to accomplish and choosing a greener drive(or performance model if you want to go in the other direction) will have more impact than the APM/ACPI settings ever will since it just overrides to what it's firmware see's as best policy for the workload it operates in at any given time. Which is why it pays to do your homework and research the best fit for your environment/power saving requirements.
 
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C1

Platinum Member
Feb 21, 2008
2,279
62
91
Not really sure what the last post has really said or tried to state.

Just buy a good standard full sized (non-green) HDD, a green enclosure and using a utility like MDIS you can make the external system do what ever the hell you want (ie, stay running all the time or spin down after an idle/no access interval.

The advantage here is that you are not locked in if you decide to move the drive from the external enclosure to inside the case and hang it off a MB SATA controller in which case it can now be put under OS power management's control (again to run either continuous spin up or timed spin down after no access).
 

kbp

Senior member
Oct 8, 2011
577
0
0
My external dock is managed thru my USB port on my Asus N-66U router that lets me control power management/spin down time.
 

Special K

Diamond Member
Jun 18, 2000
7,098
0
76
My external HDD is always OFF unless I wish to use it. It is connected to my switchbox, and is a simple toggle on/off. I do not trust anything automatic, so when I want to back up I just turn it on. Otherwise it is OFF. That keeps things simple. BTW - it is an eSATA connection.
Unfortunately that would not work for my situation as I want my backup to be fully automated.
 

Special K

Diamond Member
Jun 18, 2000
7,098
0
76
there are two variables to consider here. The host can only take som much control of the drives built in firmware algorithms.

IOW, and as some have already said, the drive will power/spin down based on it's firmware's inherent "green'ness" regardless of what the OS/bios tells it to do through APM/ACPI settings.

A happy medium is all we can ever hope to accomplish and choosing a greener drive(or performance model if you want to go in the other direction) will have more impact than the APM/ACPI settings ever will since it just overrides to what it's firmware see's as best policy for the workload it operates in at any given time. Which is why it pays to do your homework and research the best fit for your environment/power saving requirements.
This is true. I could just pick a drive that has its own power down system.
 

Special K

Diamond Member
Jun 18, 2000
7,098
0
76
Not really sure what the last post has really said or tried to state.

Just buy a good standard full sized (non-green) HDD, a green enclosure and using a utility like MDIS you can make the external system do what ever the hell you want (ie, stay running all the time or spin down after an idle/no access interval.

The advantage here is that you are not locked in if you decide to move the drive from the external enclosure to inside the case and hang it off a MB SATA controller in which case it can now be put under OS power management's control (again to run either continuous spin up or timed spin down after no access).
Just for clarification, what's an example of a "green enclosure"?
 

groberts101

Golden Member
Mar 17, 2011
1,390
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Just for clarification, what's an example of a "green enclosure"?
there is no such thing that I know of since the enclosures bridge chip only needs host drivers... not software to allow such algorithms.

However.. when you buy an external enclosure.. you will get the bloatware that often accompanies it and they will have algorthms included thier that will have similar effects as well.

Even my old 320GB WD(whatever it was called).. has built in power savings modes that over ride what I tell windows to do. You can actuallu hear the drive spool down after periods of inactivity and then start back up when accessed again. Which I always hated because it takes about 10 seconds to even wake up and read/write the info I wanted from/to it.
 

harisv339

Junior Member
Sep 19, 2013
1
0
0
My external dock is managed thru my USB port on my Asus N-66U router that lets me control power management/spin down time.
Hi KBP,
Is your HDD a USB powered one (such as 2.5") or is it externally powered (enclosures with 3.5" HDD)? I would like to know if RT-N66U can spin down an externally powered HDD via USB. Thanks in advance for your insights.
 

benwood

Member
Feb 15, 2004
107
0
0
I have several of the following USB 3.0/ESata external drive cases and they spin down after a time, at least when I've hooked them up via ESata:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817182265

They also have a real on/off switch so you can actually turn them off when not in use. A lot of the premade external hard drives don't really have one and turn on when the computer is on. They also include a 15mm fan to keep the drive cool. The only possible problem is that Rosewill may have changed this behavior in newer revisions of the case. They've done this with at least one other external hard drive cases they make.
 

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