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Author Topic: External hard drive; leave on always or turn on only when needed?  (Read 3329 times)

ymc226

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I use my laptop (MacBook Pro) to process images via LR4 and am estimating that it will take several months to fill up the internal hard drive. 

If I transfer files every few months to the external drive, will I get better external drive longevity by leaving it always on or turn it on for a hour or so every 3 months to transfer my files and then shut it down?  I spoke to the sales rep at OWC and she indicated that I should leave it on always.  I'm not computer savvy and just want other opinions as it seems counter-intuitive.
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degrub

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Re: External hard drive; leave on always or turn on only when needed?
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2012, 10:21:05 PM »

It is partially about time and temperature for the drive mechanics. The only practical effect of leaving it on is you may get to a failure sooner in time rather than later if the drive has a manufacturing issue. If the drive in the case is an "enterprise drive" or designed for server applications, then may take more abuse. If it is a desktop drive, then it was not intended to be on 24x7, per the manufacturers. Practically, i have only had a few drives fail in 25 years of computing. Those were drives that sat for a month or two between power on cycles. The drive electronics and mechanical parts should not have any issue with power on off every day. 10 years would be less than 4000 cycles.

From a practical standpoint, as long as the drive stays cool, it probably does not make a difference.

BTW, you should consider  backing up at least every week, but it depends on what amount of work you are willing to lose.
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Sareesh Sudhakaran

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Re: External hard drive; leave on always or turn on only when needed?
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2012, 12:10:28 AM »

If I transfer files every few months to the external drive, will I get better external drive longevity by leaving it always on or turn it on for a hour or so every 3 months to transfer my files and then shut it down?  I spoke to the sales rep at OWC and she indicated that I should leave it on always.  I'm not computer savvy and just want other opinions as it seems counter-intuitive.

If your external drive is a spinning HDD, then it won't make much of a difference. A WD drive lasts years. I'd leave it on - it'll spin for a few seconds once in a while and that's good for the motor.

If it's an SSD drive, then it's better to only use it when required, especially if it is USB powered. But I don't think it'll affect the longevity in any case.

People have different experiences with hard drives - you'll never know whether a drive died when it was supposed to, or when it was most convenient/inconvenient for you. Hope this helps.
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lfeagan

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Re: External hard drive; leave on always or turn on only when needed?
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2012, 12:25:21 AM »

The biggest risk with leaving on hard drives, at least around where I live, is voltage spikes and line noise. Often times the power supplies included with external drives aren't the best at filtering line noise. And obviously not the spikes. So, if you are going to leave on your drive constantly, make sure you adequately filter/regulate the power being delivered to it.
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Rhossydd

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Re: External hard drive; leave on always or turn on only when needed?
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2012, 02:34:22 AM »

I'd only turn it on and connect it when needed and when not in use keep it out of sight.
You avoid the risks of voltage spikes and it's less likely to be stolen*, plus you won't be wasting electricity.


*Back ups stop being useful if they're stolen along with the computer in a theft. I've known it happen.
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Justan

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Re: External hard drive; leave on always or turn on only when needed?
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2012, 10:23:33 AM »

Leave it on, and do nightly backups.

You will help yourself by getting a 2nd external drive and to swap them every week.

Remember that external drives amount to spare sets of backup data. The drive will fail eventually (they all do) and if you have relied on it for anything you will be severely disappointed. Multiple backup sets on multiple drives are a vital part of a backup strategy.

FWIW for my clients I keep between several and 60 or more unique backup sets, per the needs of the organizations.

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