I've noticed on many small PC cases that the hard drives are installed vertically. In midi cases, towers and others of a larger housing, they are in the horizontal position.

What impact on a hard drive does a vertical position have? Does it affect the life? Is it more prone to errors?

(Not of SSDs (solid-state drive), just plain hard drive with all its mechanical parts inside.)


9 Answers 9


It shouldn't matter which way you do it these days. But there's one possible caveat of making it vertical:

Under situations where cooling is at premium and you don't have the means to increase cooling of your system, mounting the disk horizontally with the label facing upwards could be seen as an advantage, since heat rises away from the disk surface more efficiently than if the disk was mounted vertically. But even so, any impact on performance or disk lifetime would only be noticeable in years to come. Just thought nevertheless to make this note.

  • 2
    One might think that a vertically-mounted HD is more efficient because of the convection currents the heat would cause. It would be nice to see a source or reference.
    – user76871
    May 31, 2011 at 2:36
  • 3
    Actually if heat is your problem then you should install the PCB facing up because the electronics is the heat sensitive part not the HDA (Head-Disk Assembly).
    – chx
    Jul 22, 2012 at 16:09

According to several manufacturers, mounting a 3/5" hard drive horizontally, vertically, or sideways doesn't affect the hard drive life significantly.

These are statements taken from the hard drive literature at each manufacturer's website; it's four years old but things probably haven't changed much.


The drive will operate in all axes (6 directions). Performance and error rate will stay within specification limits if the drive is operated in the other orientations from which it was formatted.

Western Digital:

Physical mounting of the drive: WD drives will function normally whether they are mounted sideways or upside down (any X, Y, Z orientation).


The hard drive can be mounted in any orientation.


As long as it is securely attached to the chassis, hard disk drives may be mounted either horizontally or vertically depending on how your computer's case is constructed.

When asked if the drive could be mounted at askew angles, their official positions were:

Manufacturer  Contact method           Response  
-------       ---------------------    ---------------------
WD            Tech support, email      90 degrees. 
Hitachi       Hitachi documentation    90 degrees. 
Samsung       Tech support, phone      90 degrees. 
Fujitsu       Tech support, chat       90 degrees +-5. 
Seagate       Tech support, email      90 degrees preferred,
                                         but diagonal OK. 
Maxtor        Tech support, phone      90 degrees preferred, but in
                                         real world, whatever.

By 90 degrees, they mean vertical, horizontal, or sideways.

  • 20
    So all these hard drives can meet together to try Kama Sutra, producing baby hard drives.
    – RamyenHead
    Jun 2, 2010 at 14:06
  • 5
    Isn't that where SSD's came from?? Aug 21, 2014 at 23:22

At one time (long ago) manufactures advised against changing the orientation of a drive without reformatting it. This was due to the heads being affected by gravity and becoming misaligned with respect to the data. I have not seen such a notice in quite some time.

  • 4
    Voice coil drives (anything newer than the old ST506/412 drives in the original AT/XT) won't have this issue. The old stepper motor drives could have, but I never found it to be an issue. Dec 29, 2009 at 14:13

I have a TB Samsung 7200 rpm that in the vertical position gives SMART errors but is okay in the horizontal position. It's a mystery, perhaps gravity is upsetting the mechanics.


I had a drive that did not work anymore in vertical position. After dismounting, it ran successfuly in horizontal orientation and I was happy to be able to make a backup... Not sure if this has any relevance to the topic.

  • Dealing with this right now. A horizontally mounted hard drive in my case that has worked for a long time stopped working. I moved it to an external usb adapter in a vertical orientation and it hasn't had an error yet (fingerscrossed). I suppose it could indicate a mechanical malfunction that is alleviated by gravity forces in the vertical orientation. Happy to get my backups off, anyway.
    – Shovas
    Aug 16, 2018 at 18:19

Old thread but I thought I'd put in my input. Every drive I have ever owned, external or internal...the ONLY ones that failed were the ones positioned vertically. My 2.5" samsung external drive has been positioned horizontally and its been working perfectly for 3 years, while my other external 2.5" was positioned vertically and it failed within a month. My WD my book 1tb is only vertical because the feet are positioned to stand it vertically. I will NEVER put a drive vertical...same goes for gaming systems. Horizontal will prolong life. If someone says its ok to go vertical...dont listen to them.

  • 2
    Anecdotal at best. I have tons of drives mounted horizontally and vertically, both consumer and enterprise level. There is no difference in failure level between h and v mounted drives. When they fail they fail.
    – RedShift
    May 3, 2020 at 7:47

I have had many different combinations down to even mounting horizontal (no hard drive space, so just put a screw through the hole for a fan!

I can say that I have not seen any difference what so ever in life.


I mount hard drives vertically and horizontally and it doesn't affect performance at all. Oh and I work in IT :)


mounting a hard disk drive vertically or horizontally does not affect the life span.

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