External Hardrive Question

Discussion in 'other software & services' started by seadog, Feb 17, 2007.

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  1. seadog

    seadog Registered Member

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    Hope I am posting in the right forum. I have a question about a recently installed Maxtor One Touch 3 mini external harddrive. Seems to be working fine but when I put PC in standby mode external drive makes a clicking sound for a few seconds then goes quiet. Then starts clicking again off & on while PC remains in standby. Can someone tell me if this is normal? Couldn't find any answers on manufacturers site. Thanks in advance for your time.
     
  2. Ice_Czar

    Ice_Czar Registered Member

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    Re: EXTERNAL HARDDRIVE QUESTION

    interspersed throughout the platter(s) on a HDD are what are called servo bursts, think of them as GPS markers, the density of the data is so high that the head needs to be super accurately placed in order to read or write data. A "click" is the drive recalibrating its position after a seek and a miss, it does this normally all the time due to small thermal changes that effect the relative positions of things, when there is a true error, and Id gather in this instance as power is cut\interrupted.

    Many drives also have safety mechanisms in the event of power loss that parks the head which floats on a boundary of air 2 microns above a spinning platter's surface whenever the platter starts to slow down, avoiding the old need to have a "landing zone", now they are locked "up" away from the surface. After the drive platter spins up to speed again the drive will lower the head to again float on the air and need to recalibrate its position (normally a full seek arc from inner to outer track and back to where it needs to be to fulfill a read\write request

    between the two its very likely just the normal noises your hearing.

    when you get the "click of death" its the drive in a constant seek and miss cycle
    seek miss recalibrate seek miss recalibrate seek miss ect
    the occasional click is normal, but a trend of more clicks isnt good,
    since a changing power state is involved here Id say its likely normal

    I would make sure nothing is asking the drive for information you dont need (indexing service for instance, unimportant incremental logs getting written) you can check file access with filemon there is also a registry key that controls the power state

    the normal minimum setting is 3 minutes, changing the following registry key to a 1, you can select 1 minute.

    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Controls Folder\PowerCfg]

    "DiskSpinDownMin"="1"

    5 or 10 minutes is common for normal use, as the constant stopping and starting could be cause for a bit of wear and tear but power states are a personal choice and largely dependent on your unique access pattern
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2007
  3. seadog

    seadog Registered Member

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    Ice_Czar...thanks for the rapid & in depth response. If I understand correctly( and there is every possibility that I don't given my limited PC knowledge) there must still be HD activity on my PC even when in standby mode & that is what causes the intermitent clicking on the external drive & that is normal.
     
  4. pugmug

    pugmug Registered Member

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    Wow,nice response Ice.One question if I may ask?Why would you leave an external h/d on all the time?I just use the power switch of the external enclouser to turn mine on when needed and off when not.
     
  5. Ice_Czar

    Ice_Czar Registered Member

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    seadog
    Id consider a click when your not actively trying to access data on the drive something worth hunting down and eliminating. The first culprit being the indexing service
    (RClick the drive\partition in windows explorer > properties > uncheck "Allow indexing service to index this disk for fast file searching)
    alternately disable indexing service altogether (start > run > (type) > services.msc > DClick indexing service > Disabled) but as mentioned other aps might be reading and writing to the drive, AV scanning, ect which is where filemon comes in.

    pugmug
    the only possibility I can think of is the potential wear introduced through power on and off cycles, first there is thermal cycling as a potential for accelerating wear, then there is the possibility of surge\sag in the power (overshoots\undershoots to the baseline voltage). Really depends on the power delivery chain

    the ideal state for a HDD is constant temperature and power state as far as the circuit board portion is concerned (all the semiconductors) and "off" as far as all the mechanical is concerned.

    Unlike in a data center where access is often constant, the environment controlled and the power super stable with failover precautions which is a very "stable" environment with predictable wear factors, a single user environment with a considerable number of off on cycles (both power and thermal) are the norm and have been addressed by the manufacturer to some degree, as have the heightened potential for operational impacts you also get in externals.

    But all in all its best to still treat a HDD like its loaded with nitro and give it a home where its as stable as possible. Either adopting a strategy that its "down" most of the time or "up" most of the time.

    I cant specifically address what the power quality and wear potential is for a given external enclosure\auxillary linear power supply. (the vast gulf between theoretical knowledge of reliability factors and how they are determined and the real world results of precautions implemented by manufacturers, see this thread)
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2007
  6. pugmug

    pugmug Registered Member

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    Agree Ice.I use a very good UPS to keep clean voltage and only turn on or off an external h/d as needed to lower the ware and tear on that drive.It is for backup so not needed all the time.
     
  7. seadog

    seadog Registered Member

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    Because of limited data input I only need to backup every 2 weeks or so. I think the best solution for me is as pugmug suggested.....on when needed off when not. Thanks for the help.
     
  8. Ice_Czar

    Ice_Czar Registered Member

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    off and safely out of the way of "accidents" ;) :thumb:

    HDDs are a lot more robust these days,
    but treating them like unstable explosives devices still pays dividends
     
  9. HandsOff

    HandsOff Registered Member

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    It would be helpful to know the duration of these clicks, and periods of silence. If it is enough to be noticed I would suspect the worse. When you say one touch 3 "mini" do you mean a pocket sized drive (laptop drive)? Is it a combo drive or USB 2.0 only? Did you reformat the drive before using it (hopefully yes - I think they are formated FAT-32 by default).

    There is a setting to either Optimize the Drives Performance, or, Optimize the Drive for quick removal (don't have to use the safely remove hardware icon before powering off the drive. It has to do with enabling write-caching. If you do not use the Safely Remove Hardware icon when you turn off your computer (Or drive) you should not have write caching enabled.

    1-check that setting
    2-agree with Iceman, check that the indexing service is not enabled
    3-run chkdsk /f on the drive <----Important!
    4-I would disable any kind of hibernating settings that can effect the drive.
    5-I would not defragment this drive either automatically, or manually while it if it is only for storing backup files.
    6-If you did not format it NTFS then you need to do it.

    That's a start...

    -HandsOff

    [Note sure of your familiarity level with computers, so I wanted to say all of the above steps are really easy! if you don't know the steps, I or someone else here can tell you. I'd say you could almost safely ignore everything except #3!]
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2007
  10. seadog

    seadog Registered Member

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    Thank you HandsOff...I have spent alot of time on the Maxtor (now Seagate) site & will try to answer your questions based on what I think I understand from what I have read.The device is a Maxtor One Touch lll mini edition for backup & storage. It is USB 2.0 only. Didn't see any options to reformat & don't know if it's FAT-32 or NTFS. It appears the only way to properly remove device is to use the safely remove hardware icon. Yes the indexing service is disabled & has been for years. I have not run chkdsk as yet as it is a brand new device & I wasn't aware that needed to be done. It does have its own self test built in which reports it is operating OK. To test it myself I have deleted some old files & restored them from the restore function of the device so it seems to be doing what it is supposed to do. My concern arose from the fact that I leave my PC in standby mode for hours at a time & I noticed the device would occasionally start ticking for 5 or 6 seconds then stop. It would repeat this pattern off & on. The reason I was concerned is that I thought that when in standby mode there would be no hard drive activity & therefore no reason for any ticking. If I am mistaken in that regard please advise...My understanding is based on my freely admitted limited knowledge in dealing with hardware ......I do a little better with software. I'm just an old dog trying to learn some new tricks. Sometimes that is not so easy. Thanks again for all your help.
     
  11. Ice_Czar

    Ice_Czar Registered Member

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    running CHKDSK on a regular basis is not a bad idea
    though automatically fixing errors (/f switch) may preclude the ability to easily recover data in the event errors are located in the filesystem, the filesystem normally fixes itself but on occasion when there is serious damage can orphan files and break otherwise functional OS installs. While its more time consuming to run CHKDSK without the /f switch it is the more cautious approach. This will give you an idea of what its actually doing.

    An Explanation of CHKDSK and the New /C and /I Switches

    Description of Enhanced Chkdsk, Autochk, and Chkntfs Tools in Windows 2000
    CHKDSK XP syntax & switches

    its probably worthwhile to find the time to read this as well ;)
    http://www.ntfs.com/ (specifically the NTFS basics)
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2007
  12. DVD+R

    DVD+R Registered Member

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    Erm, doesnt the external drive power down with the system :blink: I have a Notebook external Hard Drive, and it powers down or off with the system :cool:
     
  13. seadog

    seadog Registered Member

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    Ice Czar...I have read the info on the links you posted & found it very informative. Thank you.

    DVD+R....I believe we are thinking along the same line on this. I have now discovered that even when PC is in standby this particular external drive stays powered up for a preset period of time which is why it was still active & intermittently clicking. After the preset time passes it too powers down & the intermittent clicking stops. When the PC comes out of standby the external drive also reactivates.This time was preset at 1 hour by default. I have reset the time to the minimum & all seems well.

    I would like to thank all for your help & suggestions.
     
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