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"Standby-Hard Drive Spins Slowly" Stupid Me Or IT?  
User currently offlineTugger From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 5739 posts, RR: 10
Posted (7 years 3 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 3123 times:

OK guys, I need some help. Either I'm stupid and more unknowledgeable than I normally am or IT is feeding me a line of B***S***.

A coworker just got her laptop back from IT, it's drive had crashed, and they told her that it was because she put into Standby mode all the time when she went home and that when it's in Standby the drive is "spinning slowly" and the heads aren't stored so it can be easily damaged. I call complete and utter bullshit but my co-worker said that the two IT guys there said the same thing.

The laptop in question is a Dell 610, I use one during travel all the time and always put it into Standby in between working on stuff during flights and trips (and going home). My understanding is the when put into Standby stuff (yeah some much for my knowledge) is put into RAM and saved the the HDD then the heads are stored and locked. Its very much like shutting down but the memory is still powered so the computer knows what "state" it was in when it was shutdown (standby'ed?  Smile )

OK so am I wrong? (How wrong? Do laptop drives spin at speeds other than 5,400 RPM 7,200 RPM?)
Thanks eveyone,

Tug


I don’t know that I am unafraid to be myself, but it is hard to be somebody else. -W. Shatner
7 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21496 posts, RR: 53
Reply 1, posted (7 years 3 months 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 3096 times:

The biggest wear or damage risks for a harddisk are mechanical shocks and spin ups (getting the platters up to speed). Normal operation follows only at a distance behind those two.

Enabling the disk to "sleep" means that either the harddisk itself or the operating system will stop the harddisk after a while of inactivity (both is possible) which means parking the heads and spinning down the platters. In theory this can save some energy (battery time) and while the harddisk is "asleep", mechanical damage is less likely as well. So much for theory.

In practice, however, frequent spinups/spindowns will put the harddisk under severe stress and will rather likely shorten its lifespan significantly. And since spinning up the platters consumes a lot of energy for a few seconds, at least some of the energy saving goes down the drain as well. I would generally advise against using such "sleep" options, regardless of desktop or laptop.

What it was that killed the harddisk in this special case I cannot say; But my guess would be either mechanical jolts or excessive stop/start operation.

Harddisks do not have variable speeds since the revolution speed also provides the air cushion on which the head "flies" above the platter surface. And it should be as thin as possible to allow for good data transfer performance and still thick enough to prevent accidental head crashes at least most of the time.


And the eternal disclaimer: Always keep recent backups around!


User currently offlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21496 posts, RR: 53
Reply 2, posted (7 years 3 months 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 3095 times:

Just to add: Putting the entire computer to sleep (or switching it off) can make sense when you're not using it for a longer period of time; The harddisk will (usually) be stopped in that case as well. But for the reasons given above you should not do that if you're just taking a short break of a few minutes.

User currently offlineQueso From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (7 years 3 months 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 3060 times:

Quoting Tugger (Thread starter):
when it's in Standby the drive is "spinning slowly"

You're right, that's bullshit.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 1):
I would generally advise against using such "sleep" options, regardless of desktop or laptop.

I agree. Save your data, log out and shut down.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 1):
What it was that killed the harddisk in this special case I cannot say; But my guess would be either mechanical jolts or excessive stop/start operation.

It's a laptop, so the #1 killer is heat. The performance they ask of laptop hard drives is extreme and something has to give. Laptops generally have very poor heat dissipation for the hard drive and the 610's and 620's are some of the worst.

Quoting Klaus (Reply 1):
since the revolution speed also provides the air cushion on which the head "flies" above the platter surface

You were OK up until you said that. Your statement is erroneous. Air cushion? The platter is dead smooth, it has no vanes so it will create no "air cushion". Even if it did, the air would be turbulent and not consistent enough to provide a "cushion".


User currently offlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21496 posts, RR: 53
Reply 4, posted (7 years 3 months 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 3055 times:

Quoting Queso (Reply 3):
You were OK up until you said that. Your statement is erroneous. Air cushion? The platter is dead smooth, it has no vanes so it will create no "air cushion". Even if it did, the air would be turbulent and not consistent enough to provide a "cushion".

Please read up on the "Winchester" principle (originally developed by IBM) on which all current harddisks are based.

Whenever the read/write heads fail to remain airborne above (or below) the platter, you'll have a head crash which will usually result in severe loss of data. Direct mechanical contact is generally not survivable.

But of course everything I've ever known about harddisks may be wrong after all...


User currently offlineTugger From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 5739 posts, RR: 10
Reply 5, posted (7 years 3 months 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 3051 times:

Quoting Queso (Reply 3):
Quoting Klaus (Reply 1):
since the revolution speed also provides the air cushion on which the head "flies" above the platter surface

You were OK up until you said that. Your statement is erroneous. Air cushion? The platter is dead smooth, it has no vanes so it will create no "air cushion". Even if it did, the air would be turbulent and not consistent enough to provide a "cushion".

Isn't the hard drive a near vacuum inside where the disks are anyway? I really don't know. If there is normal air (or nitrogen or some type of gas) then indeed there will be a "cushion" on the micrometer scale.....
OK I just went and "wiki'ed" the topic..... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_disk

it didn't answer my question but it did answer this one....

Quote:
The HDD's spindle system relies on air pressure inside the enclosure to support the heads at their proper flying height while the disk rotates. An HDD requires a certain range of air pressures in order to operate properly. The connection to the external environment and pressure occurs through a small hole in the enclosure (about 0.5 mm in diameter), usually with a carbon filter on the inside (the breather filter, see below). If the air pressure is too low, then there is not enough lift for the flying head, so the head gets too close to the disk, and there is a risk of head crashes and data loss. Specially manufactured sealed and pressurized disks are needed for reliable high-altitude operation, above about 10,000 feet (3,000 m). This does not apply to pressurized enclosures, like an airplane pressurized cabin.

As to heat, I know I have to be careful when I "undock" the laptop and make sure it is "asleep". I've had times in the past where I just undocked it and threw it in the case and went I got home the thing was still running..... and blazing hot after being closed up in the case for an hour or two. I almost felt sorry for the damn thing. Luckily it cooled down and was fine. never given my a problem in over two years now (just jinxed it with THAT statement!). As long as its in Sleep mode there's no problem.



I just can't believe either the utter stupidity and ignorance of our contracted IT people or if they were just giving her any lame excuse thinking she would never know because they didn't know why the thing had failed. Still a very stupid reason like they gave is bad. It doesn't solve or help anything. I actually think at least of them one was just plain stupid and maybe the other just went along for a laugh.

Tug

[Edited 2007-08-29 02:46:26]


I don’t know that I am unafraid to be myself, but it is hard to be somebody else. -W. Shatner
User currently offlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21496 posts, RR: 53
Reply 6, posted (7 years 3 months 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 3048 times:

Quoting Tugger (Reply 5):
Isn't the hard drive a near vacuum inside where the disks are anyway?

No. Harddisks generally operate at normal atmospheric pressure. They merely filter the ambient air because dust could lead to a head crash as well with the microscopic flying height of read/write heads in modern harddisks.

Heat does indeed add to normal wear, but especially under the circumstances described in the thread starter I doubt that it was the primary cause of failure.

[Edited 2007-08-29 02:51:58]

User currently offlineTugger From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 5739 posts, RR: 10
Reply 7, posted (7 years 3 months 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 3045 times:

Quoting Klaus (Reply 6):
Harddisks generally operate at normal atmospheric pressure.

Yes, I understand, and that's what the article said too.

What I found interesting was that special HDD's are needed for high altitudes (not planes):

Quote:
Specially manufactured sealed and pressurized disks are needed for reliable high-altitude operation, above about 10,000 feet (3,000 m).

Tug



I don’t know that I am unafraid to be myself, but it is hard to be somebody else. -W. Shatner
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