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Manually put an external hard disk to sleep?

3922 Views 8 Replies Latest reply: Nov 4, 2012 11:30 PM by samal17184 RSS
GaryKing Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
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Jun 25, 2012 12:43 PM

Is it possible to manually put an external hard disk to sleep? Right now, I've already got "Put the hard disks to sleep when possible" checkmarked in the Energy Saver preference pane, and so they should sleep after 10 minutes of inactivity, but I'm wondering if it's also possible to do this manually whenever I want.


I just bought an external hard drive and it's already spinning constantly, compared to my current external which is completely quiet, so I'm wondering if I can put it to sleep when I need to to stop it from spinning all the time.

iMac, Mac OS X (10.7.4), 3.2 GHz Intel Core i3, 16 GB RAM
  • Sjazbec Level 4 Level 4 (1,665 points)
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    Jun 25, 2012 1:03 PM (in response to GaryKing)

    you cannot put them manually to sleep.

  • Peter Bannon Level 6 Level 6 (10,080 points)
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    Jun 25, 2012 1:36 PM (in response to GaryKing)

    What are you using that new disk for? Time machine or some other function that needs to be accessed? The drive shoud sleep if it hasn't been called for.


    You can eject it to spin it down. Either from the sidebar or by selecting it on the Desktop and hit Command+E.

    Remount it from Disk Utility.

  • Topher Kessler Level 6 Level 6 (9,305 points)
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    Jun 25, 2012 2:44 PM (in response to GaryKing)

    You can do this using the "Spindown HD" program that came with older versions of the OS X developer tools:


    For a similar approach, you can set the power manager to spin down the hard disks at a given time between 1 minute and up to whatever number of minutes you would like, using the following command:


    sudo pmset -a disksleep MINUTES


    If you set MINUTES to 0 then the disks will never spin down, and MINUTES must be an integer value so you cannot specify 30 seconds or other fractions of a second.

  • Wolf Harper Level 1 Level 1 (40 points)
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    Jun 25, 2012 2:49 PM (in response to GaryKing)

    You may be dealing with the problem that the OS itself (or its apps) like to randomly read stuff off every hard drive when it's bored.  At one point I tracked my OS's disk access activity, and sure enough, Finder banged another external drive about every 5-10 minutes in round robin. This was 10.5 so maybe they fixed this.


    Some programs also scan all your drives looking for resources, and once they find it on an external drive, they will continue looking there forever, even if you delete the folder.  I suppose you could rename the external drive. For instance, my system believed that 3 of my fonts were located on external drives, so everytime I opened a Font menu, I would get a beachball for 10 seconds while the drive spun up.  I was able to mess around in Font Book and make it stop doing that.  Same thing when I start Word, which apparently has a prurient interest in "Word Settings" folders on my backup drives.


    You can see what files it's getting on external drives by doing (at Terminal)

    sudo fs_usage -f filesys | grep /Volumes/   and then it'll pop up everytime something goes to an external drive. 

    Note that this is a considerable resource-hog, so I don't run it when I am not actively using it.


    To this day, everytime I go to an "open" or "save as..." menu, again, beachball for 20 seconds as every drive spins up one at a time.  I don't think there's a way around that one. 


    These are commonplace external hard drives bought at CostCo, not some gold-plated "designed for Mac" specialty product.  They do indeed spin down when nobody is using them. 


    I have chased my tail for YEARS on this problem, for instance I finally got the Fonts problem resolved (I think), but every problem I solve, two more pop up.  I have just given up, and everytime I get a beachball I throw another dollar into the "buy solid state drives" fund. 

  • Peter Bannon Level 6 Level 6 (10,080 points)
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    Jun 26, 2012 10:22 AM (in response to GaryKing)



    This is the drive:

    LaCie Minimus 2 TB USB 3.0 Desktop External Hard Drive 301967


    Which comes with a package of LaCie Software. If it is setup for USB 3.0 do you meet the requirements including USB 3.0 PCI Express card? LaCie software also has backup and energy saver software. Are they set up?


    I have no experience using new LaCie software. I've always set up drives thorugh the OS. Yours came semi setup since all the documentation is installed on the HD/

  • samal17184 Calculating status...
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    Nov 4, 2012 11:30 PM (in response to Topher Kessler)

    Not come across this one before. Great tip.


    Another thing to do is to exclude external drives from the spotlight search path. You can do this under the privacy settings by adding a drive to the list.


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