Spin down discs

Nils Kassube kassube at gmx.net
Wed Jun 25 10:51:07 UTC 2014

Boudi Luna wrote:
> I've been searching through the settings of 14.04 and just like in
> 13.10, there's no option to have the discs spin down when idle. Is
> there a way to do this?

I don't know about a GUI method but you could use the hdparm command on 
the command line. It would be a command like

sudo hdparm -S 60 /dev/sda

in a terminal. That would give a timeout of 5 minutes. Please replace 
the device name /dev/sda if necessary. If you want to use another 
timeout, here is an excerpt of the "man hdparm" command:

| -S  
|   Put the drive into idle (low-power) mode, and also set the standby
|   (spindown) timeout for the drive. This timeout value is used by the
|   drive to determine how long to wait (with no disk activity) before
|   turning off the spindle motor to save power. Under such
|   circumstances, the drive may take as long as 30 seconds to respond
|   to a subsequent disk access, though most drives are much quicker.
|   The encoding of the timeout value is somewhat peculiar. A value of
|   zero means "timeouts are disabled": the device will not
|   automatically enter standby mode. Values from 1 to 240 specify
|   multiples of 5 seconds, yielding timeouts from 5 seconds to 20
|   minutes. Values from 241 to 251 specify from 1 to 11 units of 30
|   minutes, yielding timeouts from 30 minutes to 5.5 hours. A value of
|   252 signifies a timeout of 21 minutes. A value of 253 sets a vendor-
|   defined timeout period between 8 and 12 hours, and the value 254 is
|   reserved. 255 is interpreted as 21 minutes plus 15 seconds. Note
|   that some older drives may have very different interpretations of
|   these values.

Please also try if the startup time of your drive is short enough for 
you (see above - it could be up to 30 s).

> Sure, i could suspend my laptop but to me
> that's the equivalent of shutting it down. The starting and stopping,
> to me, is nit good since the hardware gets hot and then cold and back
> again. And if anyone knows about material fatigue from constant
> changes in temperature or even pressure/stresses, knows that
> something is going to go bad. Me being a machinist by trade, i know
> about metal and other material fatigue. There needs to be the option
> to suspend our computers after a certain length of time and to have
> the option to have the hard drive discs spin down when idle for a
> length of time. Makes sense to me.

Well, IMHO this is a perfect argument NOT to spin down the disk. After 
all the disk is one of the few mechanical parts of the machine where the 
same problems exist for starting / stopping the spindle motor.


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