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i'm switching from a big Windows PC with a number of hard drives in the box to a small MacBook Pro. I want to put all hard drives in USB docks.

It seems to works well but i have now some hard drives that go to sleep quite frequently.

In the PC which was never shut down, the drives were running constantly. I had set them to never got to sleep. Some of them have more than 3 years of running time but less than 50 start-stop cycles. I liked that.

Now it seems that i will have a smaller running time (because i will shut them down at night) but more, many more, start-stop cycles.

What is better for the life of the hard drives ? I always believed that they could live longer with less start-stop cycles. Is it true ? are there any studies about that ?


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marked as duplicate by ChrisF, Daniel Beck May 20 '13 at 13:04

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

The main reason for not stopping/starting drives is "stiction" -- the tendency of the head to adhere to the disk surface when stopped. This was the big killer of drives 20-30 years ago, But it's not generally a problem with newer drives that "park" the head over a textured surface or use other strategies to avoid the problem. The other killer of drives is bearing wear. – Daniel R Hicks May 20 '13 at 11:08

I can't comment (kind of new user), but there is another related question in SU: Is turning off hard disks harmful?.

Read the google case study (it's inside the question I mentioned).

As for my opinion:

  1. Make sure they aren't in high temperatures. Lower than 40 should be fine.

  2. Don't make the OS turn off HDDs. On windows the default setting is 20 minutes, which if it happens constantly, it can hurt your HDD in the long run.

  3. Turning on/off your computer, puts stress on your HDD. If you are paranoid (like me), when you are not going to use your computer for a considerable amount of time, put the computer to sleep (not hibernate).

  4. Don't trust Windows (not sure about macs). When windows turns off the HDD (for inactivity), there are process (windows included), that turn on the HDD, making it go on and off several times.

  5. Every now and then turn off your computer, so the OS gets a fresh state.

  6. Check SMART data constantly, check for errors, so you can prevent failures.

  7. Make backups, even if your HDD seems fine, there's the Law of Murphy.

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If you think another question covers the same ground please flag this one as a duplicate. – ChrisF May 20 '13 at 12:29
Like I said, I'm a kind of new user. I can't flag or comment the question. – user658091 May 20 '13 at 12:30

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