Laptop HDD overheat

I have a Dell Laptop thats hard drive is reporting 50-54 degrees celcius during idle use.  This appears to be out of the normal range.  My question is if I replace the hard drive will I still have a heat problem or will the new hard drive take care of that?
I think I know the answer but want to hear from others who have experienced this before.

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Im not too  sure all that many of us have checked for HD temp.... I *know* from experience that those thingies get hot, but fingers aren't that objective. 50 - 55 °C is a bit hot, yes, but not exceedingly so, I think. Are you experiencing problems with performance or data loss?
That's normal temperature for HD's. When Windows is running the drive isn't idle, there is allways something it does. If you want a cooler drive you should search for such a drive specifically on the inet which runs at lower speed and produces less heat. Look at the specs of the different drives.

I like Samsung spinpoint drives, as they are very quiet and reliable. Usually quite drives also don't get as hot as others, but as you can see in the specs., also these drives run up to 55°.
I'm curious what leads you to believe that 50-54C is too hot for your HDD?  From what I see in the drive specs, that's within normal range.
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stewartjeAuthor Commented:
The laptop has been experiencing frequent locks ups while running Windows XP.  I am just trying to rule out the heat.  I use SpinRite to help with troubled drives and when I ran the program it stopped several times because the drive was hotter then the program considered acceptable.  

I searched the net and found that most drives operate between 30-40C.  

No data loss yet but performance is not good.  We have run all the usual stuff (defrag, chkdsk, disk cleanup, registry utlilites, msconfig)  Looked for viruses and spyware.  Nothing came back as a problem.  

I do not have a pref on a cooler drive I just need this one to work.  

Would replacing the drive then solve the heat problem?

SpiRite exercises a drive MUCH harder than normal operations.  So it intentionally checks the drive for temperature and backs off if it sees a problem.  That doesn't mean the drive is normally too hot...

Drives operate at different temperatures in different machines and some notebooks are a LOT hotter than others.  I have a Dell Inspiron 2650 and it's really hot.  The drive is usually 50C but, as above, this is within the normal range.


So while your 54C is at the upper end of the range on this Toshiba, it's still in spec.  If that temp was reached using SpinRite, then I'd say you have no problem at all  I suspect your typical temp is much lower.
You might want to check other parts of your laptop, maybe the CPU is overheating or the RAM is bad? Use memtest86+ to thouroughly test the RAM. Clean both the CPU and and heatsink surface, add just a very smakk amount of thermal transfer paste (ot a thermal pad). Remove all dust, make sure there is enough RAM (at least 256 MB or more for running XP), enough empty space on the Disk etc. Check the system for malware...
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
"... 50-54 degrees celcius during idle use..." ==> the key here is "idle".  That is absolutely too high a temperature for an idling hard drive.

Good to see you're monitoring the hard drive temps as well as your CPU -- too many folks don't, and then wonder why they experience drive failures.     I disagree with rindi & jhance -- that is NOT "... normal temperature for HD's."   It IS within the specified operating range -- but certainly at the high end, and it should not be in that area when idling (even with background Windows "stuff" going on).

As an example, my 10,000 rpm Raptor's are typically at 39-40 (40 right now), and hit the mid-40's when I'm doing something "intense" with them.   I've seen it hit 50, but only when I was re-arranging several gigabytes of files that kept it very active for several minutes.

Also, Spinrite does NOT exercise the drive in a way that causes it to get particularly warm -- it does extensive read/write operatings on every track; but is not doing intense seeks, which is what can really warm a drive up.   If I run Spinrite on my Raptor, it never gets above 42-43.   If I run it on my other drives they also don't heat up more than 2-3 degrees over idle.

... on to your question:  "... if I replace the hard drive will I still have a heat problem or will the new hard drive take care of that?"  ==>  difficult to say with precision here;  it very much depends on whether your temperature levels are caused by some other heat-related issue with the laptop, or with a hard drive that's overheating.   Obviously the latter will be resolved by simply replacing the drive.   But if something else is heating up the drive, replacing it won't help.   The most common thing here would be a defective battery -- does the battery get very hot when you're operating the laptop?    Does the hard drive get to the same temperature levels if you operate the laptop on A/C with the battery removed?


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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
... typo alert:  "operatings" in the next-to-last paragraph above should be "operations" :-)   (EE needs a "preview" button and spellcheck !!)

... If the little test I described in my last paragraph (run with the battery removed) still results in temperatures in the 50's, I'd say your most likely issue is in fact the hard drive.   This might be a good time to bump up your capacity and get a cooler hard drive at the same time.   Here's a very nice little 120GB unit:

Samsung drives tend to be very quiet and run notably cooler than many other brands.   As an example, one of my drives is a 160GB Spinpoint -- it's currently at 31C.
Have you tried something like "HDD Health v2.1 Build 159" This make use of SMART. This utility runs in Windows and will show temperture as well as SMART disk data. It may show up some other problems on the drive. If not, then possibly a ventilation problem as suggested above.
HDD Health v2.1 Build 159 can be downloaded free from:
For a laptop this temp is normal, also when the HD is idle (which it never is if it is the system drive, and as notebooks normally don't have more than 1 drive this is practicaly allways the case). A laptop has the parts closely cramped together with hardly enough space for cooling air to flow, this makes it much more difficult for such parts to cool down, including disks.

A Raptor in a desktop has plenty of air around it, and is probably mounted in a metal casing which are excelent conductors, and being conductive also helps to move the heat faster from the disks themselves...
spindown the hard drive at shorter interval, you can set it under 'power' option in control panel

i think 55 is an ok number for hard disk, esp modern ones that runs 5400 rpm.
i would rule random locks as fault due to heating from the hard disk transfered to the ram or other components.
can test this way:

use extension cable/usb cable to seperate the hard disk and see if it hangs again.
stewartjeAuthor Commented:
Wow thanks for all the great feedback.  Thanks to garycase for answering the question I was looking for.  

We decided to use a program that can change the speed of all the fans in the unit and then monitor the temperature during normal use.  So far we are at 45C constant with QuickBooks and other programs open.  This was only possible by running the fans faster.  Yes I know this may cause them to die quicker but we are going to replace the unit in 6 months.  I know this is a temp fix but I am ok with that.  

We have used all the suggested hard ware tests and there is nothing else wrong with the machine.  SMART is not reporting any errors and there is no Maleware on the PC.  

I have been using SpinRite for years and have maybe come across 2-5 times when the hard drive reports higher temperatures.  SpinRite is correct in telling me this and it is not because it "exercises a drive MUCH harder than normal operations."  

Points awarded.
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