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  1. #1

    gblader's Avatar
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    Turn off/Leave on External Hd?
    I have a Seagate External HD, and I'm confused as to whether I should just leave it on, or turn it off after every use - the reason I ask is because I only use it on my laptop, and I only use it for a few minutes every night. Now every now and then, the light is on, indicating that it is on, but it won't show up on the computer. When I hold in the power button to turn it off, it won't turn off. The only solution left is that I have to unplug it. I hate doing it, because it can't be good for it. This happens maybe two, three times a week. Is this normal? Or am I just being paranoid?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2


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    If you are turning it off, before you disconnect it you first need to eject it by either dragging the ext HD's icon to the trash, right/ctrl-click the ext HD's icon and select eject or highlight the icon and go to file in the menu bar and select 'eject'.

    This is the correct method to disconnect your ext hard drive.

  3. #3

    eric's Avatar
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    pulse-8 is right.

    as far as your leave it or disconnect it question...
    does it have a fan?
    does it run hot?

    if it's pretty cool, i'd probably just leave it. if it's hot at all or in any danger of being bumped, then it's probably worth it just to connect it as necessary.

    not sure which will shorten the life more - steady low heat or the occasional power on/off.

  4. #4

    christm's Avatar
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    i would turn it off when not using it

  5. #5

    gblader's Avatar
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    Well, I know how to eject the external HD, but after I do, I always wonder whether or not to turn it off or leave it on. It definitely does not run hot - in fact it is completely silent, and I don't think anything's spinning. It starts to spin when I try to access it. I like it, but I guess my question really is, when I leave it on after I properly disconnect it, it sometimes won't show up the next day when I connect it to the computer. So I have to turn it off manually. Sometimes I even have to unplug it. FINALLY, my question - is this normal? Or is this product defective? Should I return it? I had it for about two months and this has been pretty consistent, but I have not run into any problems because of it. I just want to make sure that I'm not slowing ruining the HD. It sure comes in handy. Thanks!

  6. #6

    cazabam's Avatar
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    It sounds like you have a problem with the drive. There's nothing OS X is doing to it to cause it to not respond to power off requests once it's disconnected. Try seagate support site and see if there is a knowledge base or something about your drive.

  7. #7

    mac57's Avatar
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    From an engineering perspective, it is the power up sequence that is hardest on the drive. Once it is up and running, it is stable and can stay that way for a very long time.

    Think about a hard drive powering up. The platters have to go from standing still to 7200 RPMs, very quickly. This presents real mechanical stresses to the physical media. It also consumes a power surge as everything spins up (so called "inrush currents"). It takes a lot more electricity to get things accelerated to 7200 RPM than it does to maintain 7200 RPM once it has been achieved. So, start up presents electrical strains as well.

    If you can, leave the drive running full time. As long as there isn't a fan noise problem, and assuming you do access somewhat frequently, this approach will maximize the life time of the drive.
    My Macs: iMac 27" 3.4 GHz, Mac Pro 3.2 GHz, PowerMac G5 Quad 2.5 GHz, G4 Cube with 1.2 GHz Upgrade
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  8. #8

    gblader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mac57 View Post
    From an engineering perspective, it is the power up sequence that is hardest on the drive. Once it is up and running, it is stable and can stay that way for a very long time.

    Think about a hard drive powering up. The platters have to go from standing still to 7200 RPMs, very quickly. This presents real mechanical stresses to the physical media. It also consumes a power surge as everything spins up (so called "inrush currents"). It takes a lot more electricity to get things accelerated to 7200 RPM than it does to maintain 7200 RPM once it has been achieved. So, start up presents electrical strains as well.

    If you can, leave the drive running full time. As long as there isn't a fan noise problem, and assuming you do access somewhat frequently, this approach will maximize the life time of the drive.
    So THAT'S why people always say to leave computers on. So if that theory is true, then wouldn't a 5400 rpm last longer than a 7200 rpm hd if you turn it on and off frequently? Or would it not affect it so much that it would make such a big difference. Thanks!

  9. #9

    mac57's Avatar
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    My guess is that both 5400 and 7200 drives are engineered for a fixed number of startup/shutdown cycles and use physical material that meets their mechanical needs. So, I doubt that that a 5400 would last any longer than a 7200 just because it spins more slowly.
    My Macs: iMac 27" 3.4 GHz, Mac Pro 3.2 GHz, PowerMac G5 Quad 2.5 GHz, G4 Cube with 1.2 GHz Upgrade
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  10. #10

    eric's Avatar
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    but doesn't the drive spin down when a mac goes to 'sleep'?

    so turning on and off shouldn't be an issue. if you're going to leave it sit for long enough for it to go to sleep and spin down, you may as well turn it off.
    of course, if you're coming back any time soon, you may want to leave it on anyway for heat expansion reasons, but if you're going to be away for a while, i don't see why turning off the HD or mac itself would be an issue.

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