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OSX unnecessarily wakes external drive - can this be changed?

31097 Views 113 Replies Latest reply: Apr 9, 2014 11:44 AM by DaveNN RSS
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CRhysB Calculating status...
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Jan 26, 2010 1:39 PM
I have a Seagate FreeAgentPro (FW4 Media) connected for Time Machine and extra storage purposes which is often asleep. Every time I save anything within any app OSX seeks to check the external drive – causing a spinning beachball delay until the drive is up and running – even if, as is usually the case, I intend to save to the internal disc. It's very annoying. (Why can't they make it so that if you choose the external disc as a destination, only then do you have to wait for it to be wakened?)

Now with Snow Leopard every time I choose Look Up In Dictionary from within Safari, Pages, and some other apps (not Text Edit) it does the same thing and waits until the external drive is up and awake again before it opens the Dictionary. Grrr.

I'm wondering if OSX's behaviour can be changed so that it no longer needs to wake up my external drive when I hit Save, or Look Up In Dictionary. Or is this something to do with the drive, and other people don't experience this behaviour?
MacBook (white) 2.16Ghz, 3Gb RAM, 500Gb HD, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • Király Level 6 Level 6 (9,470 points)
    If an acceptable solution to you is having the drive not spin down in the first place, you can set than in System Preferences -> Energy Saver. Then you won't have to worry about it spinning up and halting the system.
    eMac (PowerPC G4, 1.25GHz, 1.5GB RAM, USB 2.0), Mac OS X (10.5.8)
  • apikoros Calculating status...
    For what it's worth, I'll add my ? to yours. I have the same question, prompted by the same experience.
    early 2006 Core Duo iMac (20"/2GHz), Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • jskains Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I was about to post the same question, but mine does further. Anytime I do ANYTHING on the computer, it wakes the stupid drive back up
    iMac 27" i7 2.8, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • jjmancini Calculating status...
    Has anyone had any luck with this? I have 2 external drives that are connected, I hate the lag that is created when 99.9% of the time I don't save it to a mounted external drive. It seems like an awful waste of time.
    iMac intel, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • Mate Dobray Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Yep, I have this too. I have a Western Digital 500GB USB drive that I use to store occasional movies and for Time Machine. It goes to sleep on its own (not due to the system telling it to go to sleep, it's a built-in feature) after like 15 minutes. So yeah, even when I want to click the Google search box in Safari, I have to wait 5 seconds before the cursor starts blinking as I hear the drive spin up. There is NOTHING on that drive that the OS could possibly want, especially when it isn't time to back up for Time Machine (that should only happen once an hour, not 4 times an hour). I really hope one day they'll implement a feature into OS X that only attempts to access drives when they are required to be accessed.
    MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.5.6), Unibody, 4GB RAM, 2.53 GHz
  • direwolf8 Level 4 Level 4 (1,280 points)
    I don't think you can change the behavior because it's not feasible for the system to guess when you'll need the drive available and when you won't. There might be SOME circumstances when you can be sure, but not in every case. For example: A dialog box comes up asking me where I want to store something. The system has no way to know that you'll NEVER want to store it on the sleeping disk, so it has to make the resource available (and refresh the system cache). Anytime the system needs to know what resources are available, it has to wake up sleeping devices. The solution is to not let your peripherals sleep when the computer is in use. Or else get used to waiting for them to wake up. You're probably not saving much power. Wear and tear is greater on disk drives that spin up and down than those that stay spinning. The system can't read your mind and anticipate exactly when it will need to wake something up.
    G5, Mac OS X (10.5)
  • kg1794 Calculating status...
    I have the same problem with a Seagate FreeAgent 1TB, it's infuriating. Whilst direwolf8 says it's not feasible for the system to guess when I'll need the drive, why can't it be set so that it assumes I don't want the drive unless I click on it's icon from within Finder? To access it when I load dictionary is, however, really puzzling - what could it possibly want from the external drive when using that application?

    To be honest I've had nothing but problems with regards to this particular external HDD and Mac OS X, does anyone have a particular make of external drives where this spin-up causing Mac OS X to slow down doesn't happen?
    MacBook 2.2, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • Zogbort Fangle Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    I found this thread after my most recent semi-regular search for a solution to this problem — I have two infrequently external drives (both Seagate — one used for Time Machine) and the spin-up delay that precedes everything from launching Dictionary to saving a document is a pain in the arse.

    I'd much rather Open/Save dialog boxes wake the drives when they're accessed in the dialog (they never are) and I cannot begin to fathom why Dictionary needs to wake them. I suspect this is a core part of the way Mac OS X works and so isn't easily fixed — I certainly have no solution.

    Still, bump, I guess...
    iMac 24", Mac OS X (10.6.3)
  • John Potts Level 4 Level 4 (3,100 points)
    I have the same experience with an external LaCie drive, which is not used for Time Machine (I have a Time Capsule for that purpose).

    This behaviour also occurred in OSX 10.5 - I had been hoping it would go away in 10.6!

    In a sense, I'm relieved to know that other users using different makes of external drive also have the same issue - at least I know that it's nothing personal!
     iMac Intel 24 inch 3GHz, Mac OS X (10.6.3),  MacBookPro, iPod classic, iPod shuffle
  • felibb Calculating status...

    Dictionary and WD Elements 1 TB USB. This drives me mad. At first I thought it is due to my drive having 500 GB of stuff on it so I cleaned it up leaving 100 GB worth of stuff. SSDD. Every other launch of causes a beach ball if the drive is asleep. The ball spins for 3-4 seconds until the drive is at full speed. I cannot find any reasonable explanation for this behavior. Save dialogs wake the drive too.
    MacBook 13'' Unibody 2 GHz 4 GB DDR3  iMac 20'' 2.66GHz 4 GB DDR3 , Mac OS X (10.6.3),  iPod Classic 120 GB  iPod Nano 4th
  • malkowski Calculating status...
    I also have the issue. Safari will cause the hard drive to spin up sometimes just when I load a webpage. I'm assuming it has something to do with an element on the webpage, maybe a java applet or a video, but this is incorrect behavior that needs to be addressed in a software update.

    As you've all pointed out, the drive doesn't need to be accessed. Whatever framework is being used shouldn't just spin up all drives regardless of which drive is needed. This isn't just annoying, it's a waste of power and reduces the life of the hard drive. (The motor works hardest when it's spinning the drive up and also uses the most power.)

    There's a similar thread on Macrumors -- no answers there, either.
    MacBook Pro 13", Mac OS X (10.6.2)
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