I have 2 non-system SATA HDDs which are not mapped to a dir and normally kept 'offline' on my Windows 7 OS. Even this way they spin up from time to time, including but not limited to windows update times.

It's easy on Linux but, what is the best way to spin down a HDD on demand using as small 3rd party software as possible on Windows? Or even, is there a 3rd party software allowing this?

  • I've voted up the question because I'd love to know the answer too. Since you have a (good) tendency to answer your own questions, I'll keep this one favourited.
    – user3463
    Nov 25, 2010 at 5:33
  • 1
    Have you tried going into Device Manager, Disk Drives, right clicking and disabling the individual drives? Nov 29, 2010 at 13:00
  • Strange, I barely leave any comment with no replies, and I'm nearly sure I did reply to all comments in this question. Are my comments lost or what? Dec 26, 2013 at 8:34

8 Answers 8


Since you are familiar with Linux, stick to the smartctl command-line utility of smartmontools. You can spin down disks with the -s switch. From the man page:

standby,now - [ATA only] Places the drive in the STANDBY mode. This usually spins down the drive. The setting of the standby timer is not affected.

It requires an elevated prompt and the Linux /dev/sdX-style of referring to disks when they are unmapped, otherwise:

> smartctl.exe -s standby,now d:
smartctl 6.5 2016-05-07 r4318 [x86_64-w64-mingw32-win10] (sf-6.5-1)
Copyright (C) 2002-16, Bruce Allen, Christian Franke, www.smartmontools.org

Device placed in STANDBY mode

Unfortunately, there is not much to prevent Windows from spinning the disks back up again whenever it so pleases.

  • 2
    Regarding preventing Windows from spinning disks up again - could a driver be implemented to guard against such events, by requiring user intervention to enable a disk to be spun up and otherwise replying that the drive is not available to spurious Windows service touch requests or whatever else it feels like doing when it necessitates a spin up?
    – deed02392
    Apr 9, 2018 at 10:01
  • PROBLEM with smartctl... when i spin down one external drive, it will spin up the others! :\ Why does it access other drives?
    – marcolopes
    May 30, 2021 at 9:37
  • Opened a ticket: smartmontools.org/ticket/1496#ticket
    – marcolopes
    May 30, 2021 at 9:59

For many years I've been using utility RevoSleep for exactly that purpose - it has simple taskbar popup menu that allows to manually spin-down (sleep) or spin-up (wake) any hard drive of your computer.

While this tool is made almost 8 years ago (for Windows XP originally), it still works even these days in Windows 10.


Its not immediate, but you approximate what you're after by using Control Panels > Power Options to power down your harddrive after a set amount of idleness e.g. 1 min.

  • 2
    Yes, however that setting applies to all drives including the system drive; which would result in a start-stop loop with an extremely high frequency, shortening the life of your HDD and degrade performance and more noise. Dec 14, 2010 at 17:31
  • @SuperDuck - Noted. Please note this was a genuine error and not part of a cunning plan to get people to move onto OS X/ Linux ;)
    – immutabl
    Dec 15, 2010 at 12:52
  • lol - ok, noted =) Dec 15, 2010 at 17:03
  • Nearly 13 years later, this answer is now much more applicable with most OS drives being SSDs. Upvoted.
    – Clonkex
    Mar 8, 2023 at 5:33

On Windows 7, "HDDScan" version v3.3 worked for me. Startup HDDScan, select your disk from the drop-down box, click the icon of the magnifying glass overtop the hard disk, click Features -> IDE Features, click Spindown.

Looks like there is also an option to set an inactivity timer.

I downloaded the program from here: http://majorgeeks.com/HDDScan_for_Windows_d6321.html

I was originally going to download Devcon but this was much quicker and I'm on a limited data plan.

  • 1
    Worked well for me.
    – Mordred
    Aug 1, 2020 at 5:28
  • it works! but... is there another way to spin down without going into a user interface of a program?
    – marcolopes
    May 28, 2021 at 5:08

Microsoft provides a command line tool called Devcon.
You can write down batch processes to disable/enable your hardware devices using it.

  • 7
    Is enabling/disabling synonymous with spinning down a hard disk though? I have just disabled two HDD but I believe they are still spinning
    – deed02392
    Aug 21, 2013 at 22:18
  • @deed02392 It does disable (and spin down) disks completely. It is equal to disabling devices with the Device Manager.
    – tomasz86
    Apr 6, 2018 at 17:01
  • 1
    I tried disabling it, but it said that computer reboot is needed. So it's useless. Aug 7, 2019 at 17:20
  • @Nickolodeon it might be because there was some application that was running on the h/w you were trying to spin down.
    – Shekhar
    Aug 7, 2019 at 19:26

Another solution would be to set the drive spin down time in the drive firmware to immediately spin down. I've done this in FreeBSD using ataidle.

There seems to be a windows tool to do this, but I've never used it. Use at your own risk http://linux.wareseeker.com/System/ataidle-2.5.zip/291be59b53

The benefit here is that the drive is controlling its spin-down time, so it'll work the same way anywhere without a program watching it.

  • Hmm... My solution isn't on-demand in fact. It might become troublesome when trying to use the drives normally. Why don't you mark them disabled in Windows 7 hardware manager? That might make sure they won't spin-up in the first place. And... this suggestion was already mentioned. Go me. Dec 30, 2010 at 10:14

It's the applications which try to access these drives if you havent told windows indexer to index those drives. you can use resource monitor to see which applications are accessing or have recently accessed to which hard drives. you can configure applications using their own settings pages,forms etc.

  • Thanks. As this question is from 6 years back, I don't currently have the environment to test it. However, when you switch a disk to offline, Windows and you won't see files'n folders, not even volumes and drive letters. As there are no files or volumes, normal applications won't see the drive, and the resource monitor won't help you there. Jul 20, 2016 at 7:09

There are hdparam executable runable on windows that function similar to hdparam on linux.

Just search for hdparam.exe

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