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chscag

 
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Member Since: Jan 23, 2008
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Posts: 40,948
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Mac Specs: 27" iMac i5, 3.2 GHz, iPad 3, iPhone 5c, 3 iPods, Yosemite

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Some external hard drives will prevent your Mac from entering sleep mode - it just depends on the drive's firmware. A constantly spinning hard drive is consuming energy and will wear out faster.

My personal rule is I never leave my hard drives attached to my iMac unless I'm actively using them. And that also goes for my Time Machine backup drive as well. However, that may not work for everyone especially if you forget to attach the TM drive to make the backup. I use Time Machine every 2 or 3 days to do a backup rather than the default every hour which in my opinion is overkill. But I also use Carbon Copy Cloner every 2 days to clone my hard drive to another external.

To answer you last question... Don't switch off your iMac when it's sleeping as that can mess up its brain and may corrupt data. Also as an aside, I highly recommend using an UPS with your iMac.
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