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Prevent Windows XP from spinning up unused USB HDD


I have a Western Digital Mybook Pro 500 Gb extern drive connected with USB2 to my PC. The PC is AMD 3800 X2 based with an ASUS motherboard running Windows XP PRO. I only use the drive for backups and these run automatically at 8 PM every day.

I have a very quiet PC and my problem is that the noise from the WD drive totally ruins this experience. I would like the WD drive to stay quiet when it is not used, but it seems that Windows  XP keeps accessing it all the time, making it spin up for no reason, (as i see it...). BTW I have disabled indexing.

So, if anyone could advise on how I can make a USB drive quiet except for between 8pm and perhaps 8.30pm it would be much appreciated. Perhaps it is possible to hide it from windows the rest of the time..?



Avatar of LeeTutor
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"hide from Windows."  That brought to mind the Microsoft Powertoy TweakUI, with which you can hide drives.  But I rather doubt it would work in this case.   You could try it, however.

Another idea:  use a hardware profile to disable that drive until you need it:;en-us;308577
HOW TO: Set Up Hardware Profiles for Laptop Computers in Windows XP
You could schedule a couple of batch files - using devcon - to automatically "remove" the device - so windows wouldn't be able to access it - then schedule again for devcon to "rescan" - so the drive gets picked up again.


devcon.exe remove "specific hardware or instance ID"


devcon.exe rescan

or - indeed use the same utility with enable/disable commands...
You can find the hardware IDs using device manager - going to the disk's properties - and using the Details tab, and look at Hardware Ids on the drop-down list.
First, be sure the MyBook is in fact shutting down the drive when it's not in use.    Many external drives always leave the drive spinning -- they can't even be controlled with Windows Power settings for spinning down drives.   Connect it to another computer - but do NOT install any software that might have come with it - and see if it has the same behavior you detailed above.

I do, however, think the MyBook series has a "sleep" mode that it is supposed to enter when not accessed for a lenght of time.   XP should not be accessing it if you're not; so you most likely have some service that is doing so.   Did you install any software that came with the drive?   A simple test for this possibility is to shut down all of your startup items => go to MSCONFIG [Start - Run - MSConfig] and uncheck everything on the Startup tab.  Apply, reboot, and when you get the diagnostic start message on the next boot do NOT tell it to restore all of the items.   See if the drive keeps spinning like that.   If not, post your list of Startup items and we should be able to identify the culprit for you :-)
Avatar of HenrikBerglund


Thankyou all for your suggestions!

- LeeTutor: Is it be possible to change HW profile without reboot? Otherwise this way would not work for my problem.
- and235100: devcon sounded perfect, but I tried both remove and disable. It always says that at least 1 device of 1 could not be stopped. Operation will be complete after reboot or something like that. I do not want to reboot, so no luck with that so far.
- garycase. I havent checked according to your suggestions yet, but I checked with sysinternals process monitor and there are lots of accesses to the drive, svchost, explorer.exe and some other process. It locked up so I don't have the list right now. I´ll try your other suggestions later when I have more time.

Yeah, I tried disable also. I think I got the syntax right and it showed that the right device was being accessed, it just did not work without a reboot.

Why not unplug it if not in use?
>Why not unplug it if not in use

Since I have automatic backups running everyday at 8 PM and I do not want to plug it in everyday just before that.
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Gary Case
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... note that with the above case it does not make your drive a "hot swap" drive ==> unless your drive and SATA ports are SATA-II ... and your controller supports it (you'll know if the drive shows up on the "Safely Remove Hardware" icon), you should NOT plug/unplug the drive with the computer on.   But since the drive will spin down on demand, I'd just leave it turned on all the time [I do].
You really need to think about power saving options before buying external hard disks.

For example - NAS boxes are a great idea - but if they do not have any drive slow-down/power off features, then you get disk wear - and end up having to replace the unit quicker.

This is a matter of buying the correct product with the features that you want.

I have tried a clean boot with only MS services running at the start, the drive does still not stay quiet.
Although strictly my problem has not been resolved, I will approve the sata idea from garycase since I had never heard about this advantage of eSata before.

Thank you all for the input!