I've just recently bought a new PC with a high-speed SSD and a hard disk drive.

I do care much about its performance and don't intend to slow it down by any means.

I have an old 2 TB Green Western Digital HDD which has worked for over six years. I just want to use it for archiving. No apps and games and OS will be installed on it.

Will using that hard disk drive affect my new PC's performance?

10 Answers 10


I understand that you wish to install the old HDD as internal disk inside your new computer.

An unused disk will not affect the global performance, but you should be thinking of other factors: The disk is relatively old (as disks go), so may have a limited lifetime. The fact that it will be powered-on now for some years to come, will use up the spin-time that is still left for it.

This is why I would recommend buying a USB enclosure and installing the disk inside it. The disk will be used as external, and will be turned off when not required (which I understand will be almost always). This way you will extend its remaining lifetime for additional several years.

  • 4
    There are no rules, it's all a matter of luck. Higher-quality disks that last for more years are labelled "Enterprise", but "consumer" disks should not be counted upon for more than 5 years. Your disk might be of good quality and may not not have suffered in the past power surges or high temperatures, so may be good for a few more years, especially if it's not powered on. Remark: A magnetic HDD is not a good long-term archiving media, since the magnetic signatures may degrade in time. Always keep a second backup.
    – harrymc
    Apr 9, 2021 at 13:51
  • 7
    @Learner, "3 to 5 years" is a rough estimate based on a theoretical "average" usage pattern. If you don't follow that usage pattern, the drive will last some period other than "3 to 5 years". (Powering a drive off is actually quite bad for lifespan: by far the most common time for a hard drive to fail is when you turn it on.)
    – Mark
    Apr 9, 2021 at 21:19
  • 6
    Also, make backups. This disk will die at some point. It's a question of "when", not "if". Then it will be too late to extract files from it. It will be expensive and not guaranteed to work. So keep a copy of all that data unless you don't mind losing it.
    – gronostaj
    Apr 10, 2021 at 4:58
  • 6
    Err don't modern OS spin the disk down when not used anyway? mine does. So the USB might be mostly helpful if the usage pattern would be to physically disconnect the drive when not used, so it isn't even spun up. Apr 10, 2021 at 18:42
  • 2
    @ilkkachu The point is that it's not the duration of time the device spent while powered off that somehow progressively turned a "working" device into a "dead" one - when devices fail this way they actually failed in service. The suggestion was that powering off a device was "bad", implying that doing this more, and more often, is somehow damaging. To some extent that's true (thermal cycling, etc), but not necessarily the primary issue here. The damage is caused during operation and the problem is revealed when we turn it off. The duration of "off time" is not causative.
    – J...
    Apr 11, 2021 at 11:04

Overall, no, it will not affect your PC's general performance. Only applications that make use of data stored on that HDD will experience a performance penalty due to the slower data speeds of that harddrive.

Using the drive for cold storage (data that isn't actively being used), which is what you're describing, should just work fine.



  • From a Hardware Standpoint: It shouldn't, but this may depend on the SATA chip on the motherboard. Having to read large quantities of information through a slow channel might adversely impact information flowing through another channel on the same chip. This, however, only applies if/when the disk is actively used. I had this happen to me (it was not very noticeable, but became really obvious when cloning whole hard disks). It's more complicated than "chip", though; see this other answer.

  • From a Software / Operating System Standpoint: Again it shouldn't, but there are many cases when a background process might want to perform a scan of all attached storage (typically this applies to search tools and antiviruses, but scheduled defrag also). Usually this kind of activity only happens when the system is otherwise idle, so this too shouldn't have a noticeable impact.

  • Spin up power spike: amending my previous answer, there is one (rather fiddly) case in which the external USB enclosure can have a significant negative impact with USB powered devices. This was a Seagate FireCuda 2TB external hard disk for backups. Over time, the industrial miniPC it was attached to got several other gadgets connected. Nobody thought of that, but at a certain point what began to happen was that the PC would work flawlessly with the drive powered down; then at 02:00 AM the backup program would wake, request for a disk spin-up, the disk would start drawing close to the maximum current for the USB port, and that was enough for the PC to go into protective powerdown. The problem was immediately discovered (and the PC, long overdue for an upgrade, replaced with a much more powerful one). All the same, it's something you might want to keep in mind.

The best option seems to follow @harrymc's advice and attach it on-demand, through an external powered USB enclosure.

  • Why would you expect latency on one channel to throttle a different channel? Do you know of any chipsets that would actually do that?
    – Sneftel
    Apr 10, 2021 at 9:27
  • @Sneftel I owned one, sadly, two years ago (it took me a while to discover the problem, so it wasn't all that noticeable, except when cloning disks). But I found a more detailed answer and I'm adding the link.
    – LSerni
    Apr 10, 2021 at 9:59
  • From a hardware standpoint the disk also consumes about 5W of power. Not a lot but it can add up over time and it can make fans (especially the PSU’s) spin slightly more.
    – Michael
    Apr 10, 2021 at 17:01
  • I can attest to 2nd point. When I plug in a 128 GB Kingston flash drive, the entire computer lags for a minute.
    – Rudolph
    May 11, 2023 at 18:45

I've observed that some Windows 10 GUI operations (for example "open file" dialogs or opening Windows Explorer windows) will hang when you have an inactive external USB drive connected. I think it's trying to rescan the list of disks and/or read some information from each, and if your mechanical drive has spun down (or your USB SSD is sleeping), then any programs performing such operations will hang for several seconds while the drive spins up to read the data, even if you don't actually want to access the drive.

I'm not sure if your mechanical drive will spin down when installed internally. Some will, some won't, and you may be able to configure it to prevent spinning down upon inactivity (though I'm not sure if that's good for lifespan). Anyway, application IO hangs, and random spin-ups and spin-downs (which might wear out your disk?), are things to watch out for.

  • 1
    I can confirm that. I have both an SSD and HDD in my desktop. The HDD will go to sleep and sometimes during some operation like asking me where to download files, I can hear the sound of my HDD spinning up. But I can live with the slowness because that's essentially what I want them for. SSD for OS and programs and HDD for media.
    – some user
    Apr 10, 2021 at 23:30
  • 3
    Fifth answer on the page finally gets the right answer. This is the big performance hit from a mostly idle HDD that everyone will notice. Your options are to either leave it spinning all the time, burning power and making noise, or letting it spin down and dealing with the occasional windows hang-up every time Explorer feels the need to poke it.
    – J...
    Apr 11, 2021 at 10:29

I will tell you about my personal experience. I have a main SSH disk for Windows and programs and HDD for storing information. My hard disk drive was slowing down my computer. I did a few things to prevent this from happening.

  1. I have excluded my HDD from the swap file. Because when the computer runs out of RAM, the computer will use your disks as additional memory for RAM.

  2. I have excluded my hard disk drive for search indexing. Thus, the less the computer works with the old disk, the better it is. Any access by the computer to the old disk will slow down the computer, because there are many hidden processes that you cannot control, and if your disk is old, then the transfer speed will be very low.

My advice is to check if your hard disk drive is used for the swap file and if your HDD is indexed for search. If so, then turn off these features for your hard disk drive.

This will help you to extend the performance of the HDD and will allow the computer not to waste resources to work with a slow HDD. And yes. Old hard disk drive slows down your computer due to hidden processes.

  • But using the SSD for swap is not a good idea either(?). Apr 11, 2021 at 6:13
  • @PeterMortensen: Decent amount of RAM, and Windows? Doesn't really matter. Windows doesn't need to swap programs (it locks the original executable), and there's usually enough RAM to avoid swapping data.
    – MSalters
    Apr 12, 2021 at 10:05
  • Instead of using windows file search indexer, check out voidtools.com Everything. You can avoid that problem.
    – Rudolph
    May 11, 2023 at 18:48

Yes, there are edge cases where the HDD can slow down your system.

Specifically, your system could be configured to spin down the HDD when not in use (as it should be unless it is a server disk which are designed to preferably spin 24/7). Sometimes, some application will request information about all partitions in the system, and then this operation will wait until the HDD has been spun up again. In my pretty top-notch PC at home this can take some 5-10 seconds for two old HDDs. Happens every once in a while; I know who the culprits are, it doesn't bother me, but if this were a critical PC, say one which needs to perform near-realtime tasks, then I would take them out.

So if you don't want to physically remove it, you should at least make sure it has no partitions, or the partitions are not mounted.


Minimally. Some people like to disable on board peripherals to reduce interrupts and oversight load.

Since you are likely to be using at least one SATA port you probably will not be doing this.

If it is mounted and you are running Windows 10, it is likely to be pounded as is the fate of such disks.

Scans and indexing. If the disk is slow then CPU consumption will be lower as the fire is not being fed as fast. But still more cumulative work.

I know you are not asking, but use it for media files or Steam games that don't need the speed. Things that can be re-downloaded when it does eventually fail.

Or put it in an enclosure and mount it on demand.


Dont use it as a system or a swap disk.

You can observe little performance slow down when copying data from or to that disk.


If you have a desktop computer, you can consider using a HDD power switch which can be mounted in a free slot (outside the motherboard).

In the disk manager of Windows you can switch the disk online or offline and with the hardware switch you can switch the power off after you put it in offline mode. Windows won't access the Harddisk when it is unpowered and the disk will also live longer.

I also use the 2Tb disk for archiving and this is the best solution I found so far. The other alternatives like having an external case and having to plug/unplug or keeping the Harddisk always connected have many drawbacks.

I am unsure about putting direct links to specific products here, but just a search of "HDD Power switch" in google will show you this kind of switch.


Here's some details. First, normally it will not cause your system to slow down. As the hard drive ages you will have more issues with it see below:

However, the old it is the higher probability it will get bad sectors. Windows will get stuck on bad sectors left untreated. You whole system WILL freeze, possibly a couple of minutes, and then it will be fine again for a while.

Also as the sectors start to wear out the hard drive will need to do more ECC (error correction). As the problem gets worse, read/write speeds will diminish until its painful to use the drive or it fails.

You can

chkdsk /r d: 

After it scans the hdd, which can take hours, the bad sectors will be found and marked so they won't be used. Then the OS won't trip over them until new bad sectors occur.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .