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Old 09-18-2008, 12:57 PM   #1
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Default External Harddrive Help

Ok short story: Monitor is going out on a 6yr old computer and so we will be switching over to laptop and finding a new home for the old comp. I took the harddrive out of the desktop and put it in an external harddrive kit. Then put the original harddrive back into the desktop.

Now the question for the techies of the this board that seem to know a LOT more than me.

What is the proper way of shutting down the external harddrive once it is connected to the laptop?

Usually we put our computer to sleep and will probably do the same for the laptop. Once it is asleep, I would like to turn off the harddrive (it has a manual on/off switch). So far I am unable to disconnect it through the system tray the way I do with my flashdrive. Do I just pull the USB cable? Seems like a harsh thing to do, but then that is why I am asking.

Also, this drive will serve as a backup to what is on the laptop and to store pictures and music.

I have searched the interdumpz and can not get a good consensus of how to keep from damaging the external drive.
Options found so far:

  • Just unplug it
  • Download "Spin down" software. (not too fond of this as I don't trust a lot of the software out there)
  • Completely shut down comp then unplug (eliminates sleep mode option)
  • Just switch it off with the manual switch on external case (hard way to shut down)
  • Leave it running all the time (energy/$ wasteful)
  • ???


A presumptive Thanks!! for any help.
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Old 09-18-2008, 04:10 PM   #2
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Is this windows XP or vista?

The way I do it with my drive is that after I close everything I wait 20 to 30 secs to be sure all files are closed and then I turn the switch off and proceed to put my machine to sleep. I've only used the eject icon maybe two or three times.

Sometimes the eject icon on the taskbar will not work if some program is keeping files open on the drive. Word is very good at keeping documents open for a while after it closes.

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Old 09-18-2008, 04:22 PM   #3
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You're not going to "damage" the drive by unplugging it. Yanking the USB cord before powering it down would allow it to spin down, but even that's not necessary. There's not going to be any damage done by simply shutting it off.

Worst case scenario, any files that were open and not recently saved will not be updated (duh).

Heat is going to be your biggest threat with regard to external HD life.

You really don't ever need to use that stupid "removable device" utility either.

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Old 09-18-2008, 05:14 PM   #4
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This is XP.

Thanks for the info. There is enough information out there to "scare" someone from just simply turning it off.

Some do talk about physically damaging the drive, while others talk about losing data.

It is good to get some info that counters that.

Thanks again.

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Old 09-18-2008, 07:26 PM   #5
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Power down, wait 3 seconds and pull the plug.

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Old 09-19-2008, 07:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kilgore_Trout View Post
You're not going to "damage" the drive by unplugging it. Yanking the USB cord before powering it down would allow it to spin down, but even that's not necessary. There's not going to be any damage done by simply shutting it off.

Worst case scenario, any files that were open and not recently saved will not be updated (duh).

Heat is going to be your biggest threat with regard to external HD life.

You really don't ever need to use that stupid "removable device" utility either.
Perhaps we have been spoiled by the journaling aspects of modern filesystems (eg. NTFS, ext3fs, reiserfs, XFS, JFS, etc), but traditionally abruptly removing any filesystem that is mounted in a machine could and would cause filesystem corruption to varying degrees. This is currently mitigated by journaling, but still causes some data corruption and subsequent journal inconsistancies which require file system repair (the check that windows does on boot occasionally)

This is why it is a good idea to remove the device from any modern system (windows, linux or mac)
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Old 09-19-2008, 08:53 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Tankenator View Post
Perhaps we have been spoiled by the journaling aspects of modern filesystems (eg. NTFS, ext3fs, reiserfs, XFS, JFS, etc), but traditionally abruptly removing any filesystem that is mounted in a machine could and would cause filesystem corruption to varying degrees. This is currently mitigated by journaling, but still causes some data corruption and subsequent journal inconsistancies which require file system repair (the check that windows does on boot occasionally)

This is why it is a good idea to remove the device from any modern system (windows, linux or mac)
+1

It will also park the heads.
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Old 09-22-2008, 02:35 PM   #8
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You def want it to park the heads if you are going to be moving it around. Otherwise it should be ok to just turn off. I think most drives nowadays park automatically once the power if taken away.

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Old 09-22-2008, 03:09 PM   #9
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Just stop the device using the icon in the system tray, once it has been stopped there you are free to pull the USB and/or the power.

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Old 09-22-2008, 03:24 PM   #10
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Just stop the device using the icon in the system tray, once it has been stopped there you are free to pull the USB and/or the power.
I have tried this multiple times.

Update: The old harddrive cratered in our old computer, so we have switched to the laptop. The external harddrive is now connected to the laptop. So, I tried to disconnect through the sys-tray with the same results "Unable to disconnect....blah blah"

So, I am making sure there are no open programs accessing the external drive and just switching it off with the main power switch on the case.

As far as "parking the heads" I have no clue how to do this. Is this done through software? I assume as much, but then I have to question the source and reliability of the software.

Thanks for this info. I feel better about just turning it off when the comp is off or in sleep mode.
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