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Hard disk powers off every few minutes

Posted on 2004-09-05
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Last Modified: 2010-04-03
I have an "always on" Windows 2000 PC that runs Azureus (a BitTorrent client) 24/7.  But when it's just uploading files, the laptop hard disk within it powers off every few minutes (I can hear it spinning down momentarily before being accessed again a few seconds later).  The drive is new and I would prefer to have it run continuously.  I worry that its life will be cut short if it continues to stop and start so frequently.

In the "Power Options" control panel, I have "Power scheme" set to "Always On", and "Turn off hard disks" is set to "Never".

Is there some other setting that I should check that could affect this?
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Question by:gary_williams
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by:icemanwol
icemanwol earned 50 total points
ID: 11986873
There are a few things that can cause this, first, i would check the POWER options of your laptop in the BIOS and see if the drive is set to spin down after a certin period of non-use.  Since you did not say what model or brand of laptoip this is, i am unable to give you proccedures on how to do this (if you don't know that is)  Also, i would check for special factory installed power tools on your laptop like in the control panel as not all laptop makers use the windows power control panel.  If this dose not solve your problem or you do not know how to enter the bios, please post your brand and model of laptop
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by:gary_williams
ID: 11986928
It's actually not a laptop, but a system built around a Mini-ITX motherboard and a 533MHz processor.  I use a laptop hard drive in it so that the system can run cool and quiet without any fans.

I will check the BIOS settings.
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by:gary_williams
ID: 11986947
In the BIOS under Power Management, "HDD Power Down" is set to "Disable".
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by:Cyber-Dude
Cyber-Dude earned 50 total points
ID: 11987730
It is not power. I had this problem with one of my customers and I would strongly suggest you backup all data and replace the hard drive. This could be one of the following:
a. The hard drive - Where it is a defective device.
b. The controller - This could be somthing you should consider as well.

Go to the following link and download a full testing software may help analyse the problem:
http://www.webattack.com/get/hddhealth.html
http://www.webattack.com/get/adenixsmart.html

Try those (I know you have a laptop) and tell me how it goes...

Once again, dont forget to backup your data:

Cyber
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LimeSMJ earned 150 total points
ID: 11988447
What brand/model laptop drive do you have?  

By the way, just an FYI... laptop drives are not meant to be on 24/7 unless you purchased an extended run time drive.  In addition, "enhanced-availability" laptop drives usually have about 50% read/write duty cycles - meaning the drive's MTBF (failure rate) may change if the drive is constantly reading and writing (typical in a BitTorrent environment).

Here's a PDF spec sheet (as an example of rated hours) from Hitachi/IBM... note the rows that refer to power on time and duty cycle.

http://www.hitachigst.com/tech/techlib.nsf/techdocs/C5973B311E40B36D87256B290055562D/$file/T60gh40gn_ds.PDF

Both Hitachi/IBM and Fujistu's standard laptop drives only account for approximately a 20% read/write duty cycle.
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by:gary_williams
ID: 11991606
It's a Seagate Momentus 40GB drive.
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by:jonnietexas
ID: 11993447
Gary,
Go to control panel and check the power profile.  One of the other guys suggested this but I'm not sure you caught it.  Find the setting that says turn off hard drive and uncheck it.  
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by:Cyber-Dude
ID: 11994757
gary_williams,
Can you feedback me of any of the advise I provided?

Cyber
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by:gary_williams
ID: 11994945
Cyber, I will check later today.  I've been a bit preoccupied.
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by:gary_williams
ID: 12005722
HDDHealth indicates "There are no known problems with this drive".
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by:LimeSMJ
LimeSMJ earned 150 total points
ID: 12011763
The hard drive may have internal power down algorithms to extend the life of your drive and to save battery.  Your particular drive has 4 modes it can go into ranging from full active head plus full motor spin ... to parked head and motor off.  Since Windows only has On or Off, these other modes you may not be able to control.  I do know that my old IBM Travelstar had internal power down modes that were only configurable using IBM's development power control software.  In fact, the drive was oblivious to the Windows power setting that I applied.  You could be in the same situation - unfortunately, I can't find similar software for your Seagate.
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by:gary_williams
ID: 12031346
In the last few days I began getting the following unexpected error dialogs while running software I wrote myself:

Warning
"Attribute Raw Read Error Rate changes from 53 to 52"

A Google search for "attribute raw read error" suggests this is a hard drive problem.
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by:Cyber-Dude
ID: 12035383
I guess it is a hard drive error;
Sience your computer continues delivering power to the rest of the components while your drive is being shut down is unlikly somthing to do with any other device but your drive;

I suggest you backup all data ASAP and think about purchasing a new drive;

Cyber
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by:Asta Cu
ID: 12240996
This sure sounds like a HD dying... hope it's still in warranty and was replaced by now.  I'd be very reluctant to running any powerful environment without fan(s); and be sure your Power Supply is a good one and high enough wattage to suport what you need.  Heat if frequently the cause of HD death, from our experience.
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by:gary_williams
ID: 12241810
astaec,

The drive is only a couple months old.  The PC it's running in is based on a VIA EPIA processor (designed to run with heat sink only below 800MHz).  The entire system uses only 18 watts, and is powered by a 55 watt AC adapter.  The system stays cool, judging by the air circulating out the top by convection.

I stopped running the BitTorrent client, and the drive sounds "normal" again.
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by:Asta Cu
ID: 12242004
WOW!  Thanks.  Great news.  I've had lost a few HDs in my years with PCs, so was feeling your pain; happy it wasn't real.  A couple of them were less than a few months old and were replaced under warranty; not our cause.

So, I suspect, the information provided by LimeSMJ in regard to the BitTorrent client lead you to this solution/fix?

Happy things are resolved for you.
Asta
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by:gary_williams
ID: 12242109
Well, I knew the BitTorrent client was exacerbating the problem, but not that a laptop drive isn't recommended to operate continuously.  However, given that this PC is *only* used for downloading information and running scheduled tasks, at no point did I use it to store critical information.  The drive could die a horrible death and I wouldn't care too much, as long as it's reasonably quiet so it doesn't disturb my sleep, so I will likely continue running it continously (it has been running almost continuously for three months now).

I am still debating what to do regarding this question.
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by:Asta Cu
ID: 12242433
I, of course, would expect zero points here; and the decision is in your hands.  If more than one helped you (excluding me again, of course); you can split points.  But you probably know all your options, if not, click the link below this question to the Question/Answer Tips link.
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by:Asta Cu
ID: 12245089
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