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I just got my Toshiba 500GB external hard drive in the mail today and I'm super psyched. So naturally I don't want to damage it. How long at a time should I keep it connected?

For flash drives I would keep mine connected all day, but obviously I can't do this with external HD's as the disk inside it actually spins constantly. I want mine to last a long time so what do you guys recommend?

EDIT: I'm an idiot, I forgot to mention it is a PORTABLE external hard drive, not the desktop ones that are meant to be kept on at all times.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Why can't you keep it connected all the time? Most modern hard drives will put themselves into 'sleep' if they are not used often to reduce the power consumption and increase the life of the drive.

Modern hard drives are designed to sleep after a certain period of inactivity. This is to conserve energy and is also considered by some to increase the useful life of the drive by reducing wear. In standby mode, the hard drive is in a state of low energy consumption and its platters have ceased to sleep

Depending on the settings of the operating system, the hard drive would automatically go to sleep after a period of inactivity, and thus increasing the lifespan of the drive.

After all, the hard drive inside your computer stays plugged in the whole time, so why should an external one differ?

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Please see my edit, do portable ones go to sleep automatically? If so then great. – user27870 Feb 11 '10 at 3:02
A hard drive is a hard drive. They would all go to sleep automatically. – Josh Hunt Feb 11 '10 at 3:17

You can keep it connected as long as you wish ... servers are running for years with their hard drives !

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Depends on what you use it for.

I use mine for backup and file transfer, and therefore I only hook it up when I'm going to use it. After all, any disk attached to a computer is in some slight danger of having data corrupted or overwritten, and I don't consider anything normally online to be a satisfactory backup.

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Kept mine connected for months. Mainly use it for backup. Periodically I had the computer fail to boot properly (it mistook the external drive for c: ) and other sometime quirky problems. Now I only connect the drive when I need it and the computer seems happier, those odd issues I could never put my finger on have gone away. Why have more stuff hanging off your ports than you really need to. Keep it lean.

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I've never disconnected my 750 GB SimpleTech external hard drive from the time I purchased it ( little over a year now).

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That's crazy :) is it supposed to be a portable one or the desktop types that come with it's own power cable? – user27870 Feb 11 '10 at 3:03
Well it comes with its own power cable, but its portable enough to drop into my backpack :) – Sathya Feb 11 '10 at 3:19

Really it shouldn't matter, don't worry too much.

Perhaps use it for a while and determine if its spinning down when idle (either on it's own or becuase the OS does it), and then consider whether or not to leave it plugged in all the time. :)

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I have been using my Seagate GoFlex 1 TB connected to PC past 2 years. I am a extreme user, and I shutdown my PC only twice a month, for cleaning purpose.

External HDD are no different than the internal one, and I think there is no harm leaving! it connected to PC for long, also if you are not using it, it automatically sleeps.

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