I want a HD as a home media-server, it will always be on. Most of the time it will not be used, and it should be very silent and not to warm when not used.

Should be Regularly priced powered 2-3T external USB drive.

What should I look for to have that? Will drives usually stop spinning when not used, bringing the temperature down to a point where the fan will stop working?

  • shopping recomendations are off-topic here. Commented Sep 20, 2013 at 14:37
  • 1
    @LorenzoVonMatterhorn but he is asking about characteristics, not brands... Commented Sep 20, 2013 at 14:42
  • if (as usual) it ends with buy brand X over brand Y cuz of A instead of B, someone will eventually be inclined to close it. Commented Sep 20, 2013 at 14:44

2 Answers 2


Will drives usually stop spinning when not used,

Drives can stop spinning when they are not used.

How soon that happens depends on the configuration of both the drive and the OS. The OS because it can send the drive a command to spin down. Or on the drive since modern SATA drives have the capability to do this on their own.

You did mention an OS, but if you run a unix (e.g. a BSD or a Linux distribution) then look at hdparm. This is a persistent setting on the drive. (In other words: you only have to set it once).

Note that regular drive access (such as flushing log files or writing to the event log) will reset this timer. So it works best if you do not use the drive to host the OS.

This can best be combined with a small SSD (say 40GB-ish) which will not spin nor make noise. The SSD then holds the OS. The large spinning disk the data.

and the heat then so low that the fan will not be working?

The heat from drives usually is not a problem unless you run some old 15K RPM high performance drives. For a HTPC you would use a low RPM green drive. These are notably slower when doing random access (e.g. when using an OS or when running programs), but their sequential read/write speed is more than enough for movies, music etc.

As for the silent part of a drive: Get a low RPM drive. Usually those are branded as 'green'.

Not asked but: Why an external drive?

Putting the storage drive inside the HTPC would have less clutter and would be faster. (Navtive SATA access rather than using an extra SATA to USB part, an extra case and an extra power supply).

  • "Why External" I don't have a "box" (like a PC) to put it in, and such a box are morelikely to make noice. It would normally be connected to a router (But I understand I can from your post that I can actually "configure it" from a PC. Commented Sep 20, 2013 at 15:03
  • Correct. The syntax for hdparm is hdparm -S180 /dev/hdc (Enter standby mode on its own 180*5 seconds. Valid values are [1..240] and most represent multiples of 5 seconds. You can also use other tools, but hdparm comes by default on most unix like installs and there is a version for windows.
    – Hennes
    Commented Sep 20, 2013 at 15:54
  • I have problems searching Amazon for 'green' drives (External ones) Commented Oct 7, 2013 at 13:05
  • Almost all external drives will be 'green' ones. But you can always get your own external case and add a drive. A quick search on amazon on "wd green" yielded dozens of results. (Other brands will works just as well, Western digitals drives where just the first to pop into my mind since they naming scheme matched perfectly).
    – Hennes
    Commented Oct 7, 2013 at 14:48
  • "yielded dozens of results" if you include "external" it does not :-( Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 13:33

Issue: "home media server" (original question) versus "normally be connected to a router" (clarifying comment).

Sounds like you are really describing network accessible storage to be used primarily for storing movies, etc. Some home gateway routers include a USB port for that purpose but most don't.

Almost any "green" external USB drive should work well when attached to an APPROPRIATE router provided you are just using it for one TV/display at a time. Most drives are packaged as external drives without a fan at all or you can build your own by pairing a disk drive and enclosure. Metal cases usually cost a little more but dissipate heat better (simple physics provided the drive is tightly coupled thermally to the case). Make sure the enclosure has plenty of circulating air (i.e., not in a closed cabinet nor tucked behind books in a bookshelf nor in the back of a closet shelf behind winter hats and scarves) and isn't on top of/next to a heat source (i.e., not under/over a heating vent nor on top of a stereo), nor flat on the carpet under under a powerstrip and tangle of cords. For your purposes opt for a separate power supply ("brick") instead of an power supply integrated in the case. A backup fan in the enclosure may not run at all but is nice to have just in case (e.g., for an all day movie marathon or when the AC breaks).

If you want to connect the drive directly to your router/network, you probably want a NAS device instead that you can attach to the WAN port of the router. Again, almost any "green" hard disk .... (but most NAS enclosures do have fans since most are designed for commercial use with high speed often busy drives).

One additional consideration: will your network and drive provide the necessary bandwidth for your purpose. The drive or network might not support simultaneously playing movies on multiple devices.

  • I see external enclosures are not so expensive. Would it generally be a good idea? (More flexibility) Commented Oct 7, 2013 at 13:22
  • @user1987442 In re-reading your question I may have missed something. 2-3GB is a miniscule drive for HTC. 2-3 Terabytes? Were you envisioning a thumbdrive/stick/...? Space for just 1 movie? Note, a home media server implies software running on hardware (cpu) (somewhere) with storage (internal/external/NAS/networked-PC somewhere -- but probably not cloud).
    – BillR
    Commented Oct 7, 2013 at 14:43
  • @user1987442 external versus ??? Where are you envisioning putting the storage? Attached to router directly (i.e., NAS)? Note, some more recent upper end home routers have a USB port intended for attaching an external USB drive. Note, "external" (loosely) can mean a single $50 drive (from commercial box to dangling cable homebrew), a 2 drive box, or a mirrored RAID $20000+ NAS.
    – BillR
    Commented Oct 7, 2013 at 14:54
  • @user1987442 re: exernal good idea. See Hennes "why external" (but external with separate "brick" could be used to spread heat sources). He assumes you will have a "cpu box" somewhere that will be the server with some storage (OS + internal/external/NAS data). I suspect we are both slightly confused by your question.
    – BillR
    Commented Oct 7, 2013 at 15:15

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .