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If I enable to turn off hard disk when inactive in Windows Power Plan - Advanced Settings, will it also stop my downloads in different programs? Currently my Internet connection is slow.

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No. When any program (download or not) requests disk access, the disk is no longer inactive, therefore Windows wakes up the disk.

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  • Expected "simple" at the end of the answer :) – Krish Sep 11 '15 at 6:18
  • And that is why, in practice, you will likely never see the OS disk spin down - even when, seemingly, nothing is running. There are plenty of background services/processes that continuously read/write (even if just small amounts) and this will keep the drive awake day and night ;-) – misha256 Sep 14 '15 at 20:19
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Functionally, this setting is useless when the computer only has one hard drive. Windows will not spin down the OS drive unless the whole machine is going to sleep.

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  • Except if you are running Windows 95 by any chance. I cannot comment on newer versions. – musiKk Sep 10 '15 at 19:40
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    No reference; just personal experience. I work with computers for a living and I have never been able to get Windows to spin down the primary OS drive. I don't know if this is by design or if it's a consequence of access patterns, but if you set the spin-down time to 1 minute, disable all other power management features, and then let the machine sit idle, the drive never spins down. – Wes Sayeed Sep 10 '15 at 21:29
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    From personal experience, the OS drive spun down, and restarted when there was I/O activity, on Windows 98 and 98SE. I also can't comment on newer versions of Windows. – alephzero Sep 10 '15 at 22:34
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    @alephzero Can confirm this also was true in Windows 3.1. Source: me, who once tweaked 3.1 to to power down the hard drive maximum battery life on the last B&W laptop made by caching a minimum set of DLLs so disk wouldn't be touched until I hit "save". – Michael Sep 10 '15 at 23:08
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    @netniV there's no reason why "doing stuff", especially when the user isn't actively at the machine, should result in frequent disk access. Nearly all reads done by a long-running background app should be served from cache, and writes can be deferred until the disk needs to be spun up anyway for a read, or memory pressure forces a page cache eviction. – hobbs Sep 11 '15 at 2:54

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