I've been running Ubuntu Server on a mini computer (fit-PC slim) for a few years. This box takes a single 2.5" IDE disk and has USB ports. I'm currently at Ubuntu Server 10.04. I use it mainly as a media server.
I experimented a while ago with mounting a 3.5" disk using a USB enclosure. It worked OK. My mode of use was to switch the disk on and off when I needed it, auto-mounting it when it was switched on.
I would now like to get an external USB disk (probably 500GB or 1TB) to expand storage. I'd like to be able to have the disk powered on all the time, but using as little power as possible when it is not in use. The fit-PC is a nice low-power consumption device and I'd like to keep things as low-power as I can.
I would be interested in advice on whether any particular disks are more suitable than others for this application. For example, are some brands better than others at spinning down and up under Linux in general / Ubuntu Server in particular? Any other experience with this kind of setup would be welcome.
I have the impression that standby/spindown of external disks can be hit and miss in Linux. So I was hoping for some views on that.