I've got a Frankenputer that is used as a workbench PC to help fix other machines. As such, it's only ever used when something else is broken, so there are often long stretches where it's sitting unplugged and offline.

I've heard that hard disks need to be spun up and used, every once in a while, in order to keep them functional. Is this true? If so, how often should I plug this thing in and fire it up, and how long should I let it run before putting in back in the garage?



3 Answers 3


Just from my experience in itself, I did not use an older HD (Nearly 10 years old now) for about 9 months, and once i pulled it out, it spun up like nothing had happened.

If you really felt concerned by it, you could plug it into a PSU and just power it on once a week or something.

  • You'll need to connect the green pin on the 20- or 24-pin connector to any one of the black pins in order to turn on the PSU.
    – bwDraco
    May 15, 2011 at 21:31
  • You get my idea though, just a quick run. May 15, 2011 at 21:31

I think this one may come from anecdotes about techs resurrecting dead drives by giving them a solid whack against a desk as a last resort (shortly followed by the story of a drive revived by a couple hours in the freezer). I haven't heard one of these war stories about a drive since the 90s - which makes me think the 'stuck' problem was unique to the construction of those old drives. Or the myth died out, is another possibility, I suppose.

  • I remember one of the early episodes of the This Week in Photography (now Photofocus), one of the hosts mentioned that his techs always make sure to give backup disks a little bit of activity every few months, otherwise they died. (The drives, not the techs). Perhaps he just had a bad batch of disks, or a bunch of superstitious techs? May 16, 2011 at 14:26
  • I don't know if it's because sysadmin as a profession is so new (relatively, compared to farming or auto repair, etc) - but there seem to be a million commonly accepted tropes with very little study to back them up. Lots of truth in them, but lots of superstition, as well. May 17, 2011 at 13:09

I recently started booting an old PIII-800 computer which I first bought in 2000. It has two Maxtor DiamondMax D740X 80GB HDDs, which had not been used since 2006, and they work perfectly.

Car engines can seize when they are not turned over for a long time, with the oil draining to the sump and the bearings and pistons rusting, but the same does not apply to electric motors. It sounds like an urban myth to me.

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