I have measured the temperature of my new HDD, which is currently lying on the desk, doing backup and waiting for the enclosure to arrive.

Hot disk under the sticker

Temperature-wise, there is a huge difference between an exposed area of the disk and the one under the top sticker, ca. 14 ˚C. Should I peel the sticker off? Could that increase the disk's longevity?

The disk is a Seagate ST4000VN006. The disk with the sticker looks like this:

One side of the hard disk drive, with the sticker. The sticker includes the text "4 TB. IronWolf. ST4000VN006."

(image sourced from Amazon)

  • 2
    The heat is coming from the disk - so ... the sticker is acting as a heatsink?
    – Journeyman Geek
    Commented Mar 5, 2023 at 0:32
  • 50
    What you're seeing is a difference in the coefficient of thermal reflectivity of the IR device. There's a chart "out there" presenting the necessary adjustment for various materials.
    – fred_dot_u
    Commented Mar 5, 2023 at 1:23
  • 9
    Put your finger on both parts - does the label feel 15 degrees hotter than the bare metal ?
    – Criggie
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 1:38
  • 18
    @Criggie I don't think that will work reliably. We don't feel how hot a thing is, but how quickly it's transferring heat. That's why metals feel cold at room temperature but plastics don't.
    – gronostaj
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 5:33
  • 6
    You should use a proper thermometer (one that you bring into physical contact with the item) and neither a thermal camera nor an IR thermometer if you actually want to measure temperature.
    – AndreKR
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 19:04

7 Answers 7


You may not have noticed this but stainless steel is kind of like a mirror. If you point your infrared camera at a mirror, you mostly see the temperature of the reflection.

If the drive really was 10 degrees hotter under the sticker the thermal image would show the temperature spreading beyond the perimeter of the sticker.

Apply a coating to the metal part that is black in the thermal infrared and then you'll see a truer picture. I have heard that dry-erase marker works well.

If you want better cooling, stand the drive on its long edge. If you want to know how hot the drive is, there's an ATA command for that.

  • 4
    On linux it can be done by smartctl -x /dev/sda or something like that. or using the "disks" gui tool. details are going to be different for every OS.
    – Jasen
    Commented Mar 5, 2023 at 9:08
  • yes, it's an optional tool that is provided by most linux distros
    – Jasen
    Commented Mar 5, 2023 at 9:12
  • 4
    Most thermal cameras have a setting to correct for emissivity, either as a value or as a type of surface finish/material, but bear in mind it will only be correct for one type of surface at a time.
    – matja
    Commented Mar 5, 2023 at 19:16
  • 1
    Another clue is the corners of the drive. They're painted black, except for the round post that sticks up slightly. The top image shows the painted portion glowing as brightly as the sticker, with the unpainted portion dark. Those are both the same continuous piece of metal, so a temperature delta that large should instantly be flagged as dubious.
    – bta
    Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 2:29
  • If the hypothesis is that a thin layer of non-metal on top of a metal HDD casing increases the temperature, reading a higher temperature after applying a different thin layer atop the metal doesn't really disprove the hypothesis.
    – Vaelus
    Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 4:26

No you shouldn't and it won't. Taking it off may even void your warranty, and even if it doesn't it will make unnecessarily complicate a warranty claim.

Those stickers are on top of every HDD since they first appeared, and I've never heard even a rumor of a single instance where the sticker would've caused heating or other issues. I've got 2 of those in a RAID box, never had a failure of any kind.

Thanks to Makyen for additional info. For completeness I include it here verbatim:

In addition to just "it will void the warranty", that sticker, or other stickers, cover access ports through the outer case into the drive internals. If those are opened, it's likely that there will be contamination which enters the drive and could cause the drive to fail. Such ports are only intended to be open only when the drive is in a cleanroom. In addition to those, the spindles for the disks and read-write heads which that sticker covers are areas which present possible contamination pathways, so should remain covered.

Even if the sticker didn't cover any entry points to the internals, removal can leave a portion of the glue on the surface where omnipresent dust and dirt will stick. That could be removed using the right chemicals, but those chemicals may find their way inside the drive damaging it.

Comment to the unexpectedly lively discussion below

I'm a firm supporter of Right to Repair. I can also understand and support manufacturers' requirement that within wty period the device can only be repaired by entities certified by the manufacturer. Said repair being high quality, done by people trained to be experts in troubleshooting and repairing the devices; not quite like the reputation of repair personnel for a certain manufacturer whose logo recalls a rebellion of biblical proportions.

HDDs however contain no user-replacable or -repairable parts, referring to an average user. Therefore there's no reason to tamper with them in any manner.


This is due to emissivity: for the same actual surface temperature, different materials will emit different amounts of infrared energy. Emissivity coefficients can vary widely: from lows like 0.01 for polished silver, up to 0.95-1.0 for leather.

Infrared thermometers and cameras will assume a particular emissivity. The default is usually reasonable for household materials (for example, the FLIR One's "Matte (Recommended)" is 0.95), but may be configurable. If you're just looking for hotter or colder spots on uniform material, it's not critical to have the right emissivity setting - relative differences will still show up. If you are trying to measure actual temperatures, you must have the correct emissivity setting for the material you are looking at.

Also, the one setting will apply to all the pixels in the sensor, even if you are looking at multiple materials in one scene with completely different emissivities. This is what's happening in your demonstration - your camera is likely set to use a material emissivity coefficient of 0.9 or 0.95 which lines up well with such sticker materials as polypropylene (0.97) and PTFE (0.92). By contrast, the metal cover (polished metal, probably stainless steel) may have an emissivity somewhere in the 0.1 - 0.66 range (depending on the specific alloy).

This means that your camera is receiving significantly less IR from the metal vs. the sticker, even if the actual surface temperatures of both are exactly the same. The post-processing done by the camera software with a single emissivity value comes up with completely different results, because the two areas do not have the same emissivity.

  • Additionally, for future reference it should be obvious it is a measurement issue by the fact that the hot spot is perfectly delineated by the sticker. Heat tends to diffuse outward, especially with something as highly thermally conductive as metal. The lack of diffusion and the singular hotspot says, something is wrong. Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 13:03

In addition to what others have said, your camera only shows temperature up to 40 degrees centigrade- just over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or a little warmer than body temperature. According to Seagate docs, your hard drive can operate continuously at 60 degrees centigrade, and can tolerate 65 degrees centigrade.

You're significantly far from the point where you need to be concerned about overheating and heat effects.

  • 2
    Cooler is not better. Google's hard drive study found that hard drives last longest when operated between 35C and 45C; drives running cooler than 20C failed almost five times as often as ones running warm.
    – Mark
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 4:29

Not only are you not getting an accurate reading as others have pointed out, but you're also conflating a higher reading on the camera with a higher internal temperature. Even if you get an accurate reading the camera is only ever going to show you surface temperature. Since you want the internal temperature to stay cool you actually want any internal warmth to easily transfer to the surface, which means that the surface temperature should be warmer.

Try taking a picture of yourself wearing a heavy coat vs. wearing a thin shirt. The surface of the coat will be cooler than the surface of the shirt (if you don't have a camera you can just feel it with your hand). If you're too hot and want to cool off, would you rather be wearing the coat (cooler surface temperature) or the shirt (higher surface temperature)?


Note that even if the camera were actually showing surface temperatures, things that appear hot without generating heat themselves will generally serve the purpose of dissipating heat from something which would otherwise get even hotter. If one had a device with a plastic case but a metal nameplate and the nameplate seemed to be getting hot, it may be that the screws which hold on the nameplate are fastened to something inside the case that gets hot, and that heat transfer from the screws to the nameplate, and from the nameplate to the air, is more effective than transfer directly from the screws to the air would be (the screw-to-nameplate junction transfers much more heat per surface area than screw-to-air, and the nameplate-to-air junction has much more surface area than the screw-to-air junction.

A far bigger concern would be if a device had a label or other covering whose surface which appeared to be colder than the surrounding area. Imagine a street with a bunch of houses that are identical except for the amount of roof insulation, and on a cold day all houses are heated with 5,000 watts worth of space heaters that are running continuously. The houses with the best insulation will have the coldest roofs, but be warmest inside. A house with no roof insulation would have the warmest roof, but be coldest inside.


Answer: No - the label is doing very little, the drive is designed with the label in place, so it won't cause any issues.

Also consider that on your desk there is minimal airflow. In a PC case there should be some air flowing past the drive all the time. It is arguably worse for your drive to be on the desk than in a case.

Thermal cameras are awesome - they do open your eyes to seeing the world around you in a new way. Try these:

  • Take photos of a cloud and the open sky, both during the day and well after dark. Compare the "temperature"
  • Take a photo of yourself in a mirror and take a photo of a person through a glass window.
  • Video a toaster turning on from cold or a shower warming up from cold
  • Use your IR camera to see internal structures of a wall/ceiling (beams/purlins/battens/dwangs etc)
  • Photograph your power strip and look for hot-spots.
  • Photograph your pets, because they're not here forever.

The IR radiation is reflected by a mirror, and blocked by glass.

It is also affected by the "emissivity" surface, with chrome and polished surfaces looking much colder than they really are. The best easy solution is to stick a small square of paper tape to the item you want to measure, and then wait till it comes up to temperature before measuring.

You can also check the drive's SMART stats to see what it thinks its own temperature is, and compare that with the IR reading.

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