Hard drive sleep & spin speed

Hewlett-packard / Dsdt
January 15, 2009 at 05:38:33
Specs: Microsoft Windows XP Professional, 3.192 GHz / 1015 MB
I have a dual-question concerning hard drives. I am looking for either a utility or code (pref Delphi or VB) to do what I need.

1) I want to be able to spin-down a specified hard drive (& optionally spin it up again). I don't want to put all drives to sleep through Windows Power Options!

2) Is it possible to determine a hard drives current rotational speed or alternatively, just that it is, or is not, spinning?

I have done extensive searching for utilities or code but no luck so far. Even if some knowledgeable hardware expert tells me its not technically possible that would be helpful!

See More: Hard drive sleep & spin speed

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January 15, 2009 at 05:45:02
I would say it may be technically feasible. I don't know how to do it. I do know from my own experience that Windows settings for hard drive sleep/hibernation are problematic. I don't use them at all.

I suppose from an energy perspective it may make sense. From the wear and tear on the drive aspect it makes no sense, IMO.

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January 15, 2009 at 06:09:46
Thanks! Here is some more background which might be helpful.
The main reason I want to do this is to try and minimize drive & CPU temperatures in my PC. The area where it is located already has a very high ambient temp (esp in Summer) + I have also a hot running AMD CPU and 4 hard drives in the case. Of course the drives get pretty hot too.
Despite a good fan and plenty of heat sink compound I have to use a CPU cooling program when converting media files (100% util.) Works to keep the CPU from overheating but slows down processing since it "eats" CPU cycles.

My primary drive is partitioned C for system and D for work files while the other drives contain different media files and categories. So if I could put the 3 other drives to sleep while keeping drive 0 running that would help I think.

An indication of actual rpm is more for informational purposes so one could actually see if your drives do spin down. Even when I set Windows to power the drives down after 3 minutes they still seem as hot as ever so I am not 100% sure they actually do stop spinning! There still feels like a vibration. its too noisy with three fans to check for HD noise.

Such a util would also be useful for non-tech people who want to know if they have an 5500 or 7200 rpm drive without opening the case. Personally I would have expected such a function to be provided.

As to putting a drive to sleep - Windows can do this for all drives, at least theoretically :), so the functions must be there somewhere.

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January 15, 2009 at 06:30:37
"Despite a good fan and plenty of heat sink compound...."

Plenty? You're not supposed to use "plenty". You're only supposed to use a small dab about the size of a grain of rice, more is NOT better. AMD CPUs generally do not run hot so you may wanna re-evaluate your HSF installation & case cooling configuration. Find your CPU & read thru the instructions:


BTW, what do you consider to be too hot?

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January 15, 2009 at 06:31:18
Sounds to me like you are approaching your problem in the wrong manner. What size case do you have? If you have 4 hard drives plus at least one optical drive you should be using a full tower case. If the case is crowded it won't matter that much if you shut down the drives or not. That said, I THINK that if you have the BIOS set to S3 and a drive is inactive for the specified time it can shutdown independently. I am not positive about that though.

Are your drive SATA or IDE?

Download a utility called SIW.exe. I will give you all the information about EACH drive in the system. It doesn't give the rotational speed but I don't see where that matters at all. It does give the temperature of each drive. If that doesn't show then the drive may not have a sensor.

You mention using LOTS of thermal paste. You are not supposed to use LOTS. You need to Google for that to learn the proper application of the compound. It does vary by processor.

Get SIW.exe at the link below. Post the case temp, CPU temp and the drive temps.


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January 15, 2009 at 07:04:59
Thanks for the advice. I may have been a bit over-enthusiastic with the HS compound. Will research!

Room temperature is around 26 - 28, and the CPU is an Athlon 2600 Barton core running around 1730 Mhz.

In normal (1-5%) wordpro use, CPU temp is in the low to mid 70's. I have compared the reading from the CPU temperature utility to the BIOS and they are the same.

When I use any media format converter, utilization goes up to 100% and CPU temp reaches the low to mid 80's (at which stage the BIOS warning is going off all the time). That's why I use a CPU cooler program for now, until finances will allow a new case, motherboard, CPU, and 1 big hard drive.

You are right of course, the case is too crowded, but finances are a very limiting factor right now. It is a midi-tower with slots for 4 drives + 2 optical & has a case fan. I will post temp specs over the weekend as PC is at home.
Drives are IDE, mixed from 30 Gb to 160 Gb (accumulated over a few years).

From a purely technical point of view, I am interested to know whether one can shut down a HD manually, and also determine whether it is actually running or sleeping.
I have just located 3 solved questions on Experts Exchange that seem to indicate that you can both - but am not a paid member there (for now anyway - our currency is only 10 to the dollar!), so can't see the answers yet. If anyone wants the links I'll post them.

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January 15, 2009 at 07:21:09
If the temps you are reporting are correct your processor is running at room temperature. That doesn't seem possible. Here is a link to convert F to C or C to F.


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January 15, 2009 at 07:46:08
Sorry! We measure temperature in Centigrade in South Africa and I forgot you use Fahrenheit in the States. All temperatures I quoted are in Centigrade.

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January 15, 2009 at 07:59:21
We normally use Celsius when measuring computer temps too. I read the post and was thinking the low to mid 70s meant Fahrenheit because it was so high.

If the processor is running at 80C then something is definitely wrong. Either the paste or the Heat sink or both. I assume the heat sink fan is working?

Good temps are when the CPU is within 10 degrees of room temp. The goal is to get them as close to room temp as possible. You didn't post case temps.

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January 15, 2009 at 09:09:08
The general rule that I go by is that the system temp should be within 10C of the avg room temp & the CPU temp (at idle) should be within 10C of the system temp.

"Room temperature is around 26 - 28, and the CPU is an Athlon 2600 Barton core running around 1730 Mhz"

Your CPU should be running at 1917MHz (11.5 x 166MHz)...did you deliberately underclock?

As for the temps, if you use my suggestion above:

room temp = 28C
system temp = 38C (max)
CPU at idle = 48C (max)

If your case is reasonably well ventilated & your HSF is properly installed, an AXP Barton *should* idle in the mid/upper 30's to low 40's. Pay close attention when mounting the heatsink. It has a notch on one side that MUST fit over the raised portion of the CPU socket. If you install the heatsink backwards, it won't make full contact with the CPU core & the CPU will run hot...it may even overheat & fry. Here's a picture that shows it pretty clearly:


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January 20, 2009 at 12:29:36
Hello I am back again!
My PC was disassembled for a while.
Correction: I have a Athlon 2500+ running at 166.4 FSB with 1X multiplier = +/-1834 Mhz.

Thanks to the suggestions from "OtheHill" and "jam" I have brought my CPU idling temperature down to a value I am happy with. To be honest until I read your posts I had never worried too much about the high temperatures (CPU 70's - 80's). Now I am amazed that my CPU has never malfunctioned after running so high for several years!

Most computer shops here don't stock thermal paste but I managed to find one that did (a metallic paste). Pretty expensive in local terms.
As advised, I read several articles about cleaning the surfaces first and then applying it.
The results were amazing! I wouldn't have believed correctly applying a thin layer of a good compound would make such a difference.

I then carried out several long tests all with the CPU idling to see whether I got cooler temperatures with the system fan blowing in or out, and the cover on or off.
(case/CPU in deg C)
Case fan in : 45/57
Case fan out: 44/55.5
Cover on : 43/55.5
Cover off: 42/53
As I write this:
Ambient : 27C
Case : 46C
CPU : 54C
The case temp today is a little higher than the weekend tests since I have moved the PC back to the shelf where it was before and there is a greater heat build-up around it. Cover is off).
Last night I did a video format conversion at around 95% utilization and the CPU only went up to around 58/59.
I haven't reached the ideal of ambient+10+10 that you suggested (ambient+18+9), but I am happy with the CPU temp. I think the high case temp above ambient must be due to the case design, and being pretty full of cards, drives and cables.
As a new case and motherboard are on my future shopping list, I don't think I need to do any further re the temperatures, so a big thanks to you guys!

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January 20, 2009 at 17:30:57
In most instances it is better to button up the case. Case designers plan the airflow to cool ALL the components. Removing the side MAY cause the drives to run hotter.

Your hard drives may have sensors in them SIW.exe is an excellent utility that should yeild temps as well a wealth of other info. Speenfan can also give temps and can keep a meter in the tray if desired. Get SIW at the link below. Google for speedfan.


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