I have an HPdv6t quad notebook with Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.04 dual booted, both OSes installed on a partitioned Crucial 128 GB SSD. I replaced my optical drive with the HDD that came with the computer which I use for most of my storage.

Same question as Disable or sleep secondary hard drive in Macbook but for Windows 7 - I want to keep the HDD drive spun down when I don't need it. Occasionally it will spin down on its own but only after about 10 min of not accessing it, and then it spins back up on its own shortly afterwards for no apparent reason.

As an aside, the reason I want to do this is to prolong the life of the HDD and save battery power. Will it even make much of a difference on either account? How significant is power consumption of a spinning HDD compared to, say, power consumption of the screen or of the sandy bridges integrated graphics?

  • I would very much like to know how to do this as well. Out of curiosity, did you see the post on the Super User Community Blog about replacing your optical drive with an HDD caddy, or did you just do this yourself? I'd be interested in hearing from you about your experiences with the process, as I'm working on the 2nd post in the series. Shoot me an email or come visit us in chat if you're interested in sharing some info!
    – nhinkle
    May 24 '11 at 6:17
  • You might want to put the swap on the non SSD. Operating systems will write and read a lot of small files in the general operation of the system, and SSDs have much limited lifetime compared to mechanical drives. May 26 '11 at 19:39
  • I agree with AttackingHobo that having the swap on the SSD drive isn't good for the life of the SSD. At the same time, if you put it on the HDD you'll add another obstacle to getting your HDD to spin down.
    – Chris Ting
    May 26 '11 at 19:54
  • @nhinkle - I wish I had seen that, I only managed to find a few much less thorough explanations. I bought the caddy from newmodeus, did a clean install of Win7 and Ubuntu 11 on the SSD (in my primary hard drive slot since it has a 6 Gbit/s SATA connection) and put the hdd in the optical bay. It was actually a very painless process, the only headaches came from installing ubuntu, which apparently does not play nicely with switchable graphics and wouldn't automatically install the ATI driver since it's proprietary.
    – danny
    May 26 '11 at 23:33
  • @AttackingHobo, Chris - I hadn't thought of that, I'll move my swap to hdd (I don't mind so much if Ubuntu doesn't spin down the hdd when not in use since I primarily use Ubuntu for working, usually when I'm plugged in). I already disabled the swap equivalent in Windows7. How much do browser cache writes hurt ssd lifespan? I've heard its best to use RAM cache in firefox, but then nothing is cached when I first turn on the computer. Plus I prefer chrome/chromium which doesn't have that option.
    – danny
    May 26 '11 at 23:41

Occasionally it will spin down on its own but only after about 10 min of not accessing it, and then it spins back up on its own shortly afterwards for no apparent reason.

You can use Process Monitor to see what I/O events are happening, or DiskMon for pure I/O.

With Process Monitor you could then filter it so the Path starts with your secondary HDD station letter.

Will it even make much of a difference on either account?

The main reason HDDs spin down is to conserve power. I don't think it helps to prolong the life as it might as well just cause more stress on the HDD due to spinning down and up than just letting it run idle. On the other hand, it does save you some wattages and thus battery power. But why estimate when you can measure?

  • I suspect it might be spinning up again because of the Windows Indexing Service going about its indexing. Check out Control Panel > Indexing Options to see if the secondary drive is being indexed. Windows likes to index when a device is idle to prevent blocking the programs you're actively using, so it might have a tendency to spin up unused disks. May 22 '11 at 0:50
  • @jcwrawfordor: Please back your statements up with TechNet references, because that's not how it functions. It indexes in the beginning while idle to build up the whole index, after which it will index based on events... You can verify this behavior with Process Monitor. May 22 '11 at 11:38
  • I've used process monitor before to take a look at what's happening, and even when there's no access to the drive, it doesn't spin down by default.
    – nhinkle
    May 25 '11 at 15:25
  • @nhinkle: The OP mentioned "Occasionally it will spin down", so you should look into your configuration. May 25 '11 at 16:43
  • 2
    I've gotten mine to spin down most of the time now actually.
    – nhinkle
    May 26 '11 at 2:01

Hot swapping out the secondary disk might be a solution.

The free utility HotSwap! does that :

It does the same thing as you can remove device from Device Manager but it provides much friendly user interface as you remove the removable device from the "Safely Remove Hardware" icon in the notification area.

It also ensures that all data are written and flushed to the disk before the device to be hot-swapped, so you can use SATA/eSATA drive as a removable device much alike USB/IEEE1394 drive.

  • +1 Very interesting, too bad I have junction points that make my OS too dependent on my second drive. Will still try it tomorrow for a short time, but not now as I have an important presentation coming up and can't risk data loss. Perhaps I could reconsider to get the frequently accessed caches to run from memory and implement this. One more question: Does this just hide/show or does it really allow you to literally hot swap and insert another one while your laptop or computer is running? Jun 1 '11 at 0:35
  • @Tom Wijsman: That is what the name seems to imply.
    – harrymc
    Jun 1 '11 at 6:08

This utility might be what you are looking for. I do not know if it will work with the drives you have, but is worth a shot I suppose. It can spin down the drive after a certain amount of idle time.


Read the note about what harddrive not to use with hdparm !

You should take a look at hdparm for windows at http://hdparm-win32.dyndns.org/hdparm/. The manual is located here http://linux.die.net/man/8/hdparm.

Start by calling it like this:

hdparm.exe -S 0 -B 254 /dev/hdX

where X could be a or b, depending on what drive you want to spindown. Most likely a will be your primary harddrive and b will be your secondary harddrive

When you have it up and running you could look at http://tsukasa.jidder.de/blog/projects/hdparm-service for information on how to enable it as a service.


I had the same problem.

Using a Process Hacker/Explorer (whichever you prefer) and windows resource monitor

Search for the drive letter (e.g. e:\) of your HDD in Process Explorer/Hacker, this will show you the processes that are using it. Some such as the journal are innocent and keep handles open even though they aren't using the disk. In the lower pane (sort by handle type and look for files), when it is showing handles, you will see the drive access happen periodically in the offending process, it will be highlighted green and red as it opens and closes the file.

Resource monitor (Accessories|System) will show you disk activity that you can filter by executable and sort by path.

I found it to be dell datasafe.

Once you have found the culprit you can stop it running at startup using autoruns (sysinternals)


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, it still works even these days in Windows 10.

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