Can someone please help me to understand hard-disk spin-down? I would appreciate it!

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Miss Terri, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. Miss Terri, Mar 8, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2011

    Miss Terri macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Hi folks,

    This came up in a thread yesterday, but because it wound down a long and somewhat convoluted path, I felt that a fresh one might be more useful to me and to subsequent readers.

    So, I have this behavior on my new 2010 MBP 13" 2.4ghz that is different from my previous Mac laptops, including my very similar 2008 MB Core 2 Duo. That is that the hard drive never spins down. It is *always* humming away right under the palmrest. This drives me batty and is making me hate my computer and use my 2001 G3 iBook. Clearly that needs to be changed.

    So, for starters, I am not doing anything "heavy." CPU is 90% unused, page outs practically non-existent, temps cool, etc. Even with all apps closed and me not doing anything... NO spin-down. My previous computers were spun down more than they were "spun up."

    I have the computer set TO spin down under both AC power and battery (System prefs --> energy saver --> Put the hard disk to sleep when possible). Not one time since I have started using it has it spun down. It is always "spun up."

    Okay, so I was pointed toward an article that shows how one can alter the factory time that is connected to the spin-down pref, which is factory set at 10 minutes. Although I don't feel I should HAVE to change it, but I would like to change it to experiment and get more data. But I can't understand the article, which makes me think I don't get the concept, which makes me not want to start doing experiments until I DO get it.

    So, first of all they say the factory setting makes it spin down "after ten minutes of use." Okay, I thought that was a typo and they meant "after ten minutes of NON-use." But then read this, which comes next:

    To adjust the disk's sleep time, enter the following command in the Terminal (Note: for 10.4 users, "disksleep" will be "spindown"):

    sudo pmset -a disksleep VALUE

    In this command, VALUE is the number of minutes after which the drives will spin down (with "0" being "never"). [took extra out stuff here]...For instance, if I want to set the disks on my laptop to spin down after 20 minutes for all power configurations, I would enter the following in the terminal...


    So I am completely confused. If they meant spin down after ten minutes of NON-use, then "0" would mean "always be spun down," no? So it must mean something else. Does it just mean it should make it spin down after "X" number of minutes no matter what you are doing? But if that is the case, then everyone's should spin down after 10 minutes of use (factory setting) which mine is NOT DOING.

    So, I'm frustrated because the computer is exhibiting behavior that seems odd and is uncomfortable, AND I can't understand the concepts enough to play with it to find out. Yeah, I could just go to Apple, but that is a four hour drive from here and... I would prefer to understand this more first (or maybe even not have to go to Apple).

    Here is a link to the article if anyone would like to see it:

    http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13727_7-10346924-263.html

    Thank you for any help!

    Miss Terri

    PS: I did search, and read several threads, and I even found someone like me who had exchanged a computer and the new one never spun down although the old one did (i.e. same computer; same usage; different behavior). But... no-one ever solved the problem in the thread... darnit.

    2010 MBP 13" - 2.4ghz - 4gb RAM, 10.6.4
    2008 MB (RIP)
    2001 iBook 14" - 600mhz - 640mb RAM, 10.3.9
     
  2. 1BadMac macrumors 6502

    1BadMac

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    #2
    For the purpose of that command, 0 means "never put the disk to sleep / never spin down". Any other value is the number of minutes of pure inactivity.
     
  3. Miss Terri thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    So the article is wrong? Or at least unclear?

    Because they make it sound like the factory setting is for the disk to spin down after 10 minutes. Period. They don't mention activity level.

    So how does it really work? What does the "10 minutes" default setting mean?

    I'm trying to do the following:

    1) Figure out why my computer is behaving an a way that is completely different than all my other ones (despite same processor, etc). It NEVER spins down, no matter what, even with the factory "spin down in 10" activated.

    2) Figure out how I can test my computer to aid in #1.

    3) Understand how this "spin down" preference works. Is it purely time? Time of inactivity? Or what?

    Either the article is inconsistent or "weird" in their description, or I don't understand it (much more likely and why I'm asking).

    Thanks,
    Miss Terri
     
  4. Miss Terri thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #4
    Okay, so I did an experiment:

    1) I went into terminal and changed the time setting for "Sleep (spin down) hard disk when possible" from the default 10 minutes to 2 minutes. This showed a successful change to 2 minutes.

    2) I closed everything on the computer except Finder (which I don't think you can close).

    3) I waited 5 minutes (just to be sure).

    4) Hard drive did not spin down at all during or at the end of the 5 minutes.

    Now, if having only the Finder running was enough to never allow the hard disk to spin down, why would there even be a "when possible" setting? There is no "less usage" than that, is there?

    Miss Terri

    2010 MBP 13", 2.4gz, 4g RAM, 250gb HDD (stock)
     
  5. old-wiz macrumors G3

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    #5
    Maybe you need sudo permission to change the value?
    I've always just used system preferences, put HD to sleep when possible.
     
  6. Miss Terri, Mar 8, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2011

    Miss Terri thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #6
    old-wiz, I'm not sure I'm understanding you, but does any of this answer your question?

    I have always had the preference activated for "Sleep (spin down) hard disk when possible." The default time for that is 10. It never spins down.

    As an experiment, I used terminal to change the time value from 10 to 2. I used this command:

    sudo pmset -a disksleep VALUE (you substitute your new number for VALUE)

    It subsequently asked for a password, and I typed that in and entered, it showed the new time period at the top of the Terminal window. I also then ran a command (-g if I remember correctly) that reviewed all my settings and confirmed the 2.

    Of course the 2 is not necessary. The default 10 should work. I am just trying my best to figure it out, and someone suggested I try this change. It does make it quicker to see if it is working anyway.

    Nothing I can find will spin my hard drive down, ever.

    Miss Terri
     
  7. 1BadMac macrumors 6502

    1BadMac

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    #7

    You say you have other machines that exhibit different behavior. All these all the same rev OS and build?

    If not - can you call out which models and which build you are running? It could be something with Snow Leopard on the unibody that is causing it?

    At this point, if you've done SMC / PRAM resets, manually set the option, etc... I'm curious if it's just a hardware / OS setting for the build you are running. I wish I could try, but I don't have an HDD any longer.
     
  8. Miss Terri thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #8
    1BadMac, I really appreciate your interest in helping me figure this out :)

    Just before this, I had a late 2010 unibody MB. It had the same OS version, the same processor, same everything except for 2g RAM not 4. In fact, I simply used a Time Machine backup to migrate to this machine, so it's really the same that way. And, I just had a video chat with the friend who got the 2010 unibody from me, and the hard drive is not acting the way mine is (he puts his ear to the palm rest.. silence).

    Before that I had a 2008 MB. So a little bit different, because it had Leopard. But otherwise same processor, my same programs and habits and data, etc. They would all spin down most of the time, and just spin up sometimes.

    Before that.... older Mac laptops. They would all spin down most of the time and just spin up sometimes (I'm not a power user.)

    I guess the best way to put it is you know how if you've been driving the same car for a long time and then you get it back from the shop and something is different you really notice it right at first while you still have the way it was fresh in your mind? Well that's what made me notice it.

    Now of course I know something is going on because it won't spin down no matter what I do, seemingly. That can't be right or there wouldn't even be a "spin down when you can" option. I'm finding that most other people seem to be able to check the box in prefs, and... the hard drive spins down when it can!

    Okay, I have not done SMC/PRAM resets. I can look up how to do them, try it, and then post back. As far as "setting for the build you are running," do you mean like 10.6.4 would for some reason override Apple's pref settings for spin down when possible? If so, I'm surprised I'm not finding more in my searches, but.... maybe I should update?

    Now I'm really frustrated with it, as this will be the FOURTH computer I've had since October and I just want one that works! Augh! Whew, sorry but this is getting to me. It's so uncomfortable to use! Also.... so few people are responding to my thread and I don't know if it's a super mysterious problem, I'm not posting it well, or...?

    I do appreciate your help.

    Miss Terri
     
  9. Miss Terri thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #9
    By the way, I made a similar post on the Apple discussion website (but was not getting too many replies there). Well now one of their members (not sure what you call them but one of the helper people), told me not to stop worrying about it because no hard drive in a laptop EVER spins down and that setting in energy save is only for if you have EXTERNAL drives connected.

    Okay, now if that is true, maybe I have a different problem.

    See, on all my other laptops, they were basically silent and then every once in a while if I would, say, save a document or something like that the hard drive would kind of whir to life and then shortly thereafter it would go back to being silent. I thought that was spinning down :confused:

    But maybe they are all "spun up" all the time (as the Apple forum guy says) and mine is just noisy? I can hear it making the table top vibrate, and it makes my hands vibrate and is loud all the time.

    Now I'm not sure what to think :confused:
     
  10. brentsg macrumors 68040

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    #10
    I'm using an SSD now, but the only drives I had spin down were dedicated to storage for iTunes and the like. Otherwise my HD would get enough action to keep it awake unless I simply stopped using the machine.

    My guess is that your current drive is simply less civilized than what you had before. There is a lot of variability with drives, and a bit of noise of vibration is not unusual.

    I've got a 2.5" external WD 500GB FW800 drive that will scoot around on the desk a bit, and I can feel the vibration by placing my hand on the desk.
     
  11. Miss Terri thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #11
    Okay, thank you. That makes more sense (a bad hard drive).

    I'm still wondering if I have TWO problems: So if you closed all your programs, and only had the finder open and nothing else, and let your computer sit on a table for 15 minutes, the hard drive would just be spinning away? That is what mine is doing.

    Also.... here is something that seems to go against what the Apple forum fellow told me. I was Googling "vibration hard drive Macbook" and I found a page that talked about common Macbook problems and how to check for them. In one section they were talking about hard drives and said this about checking for a certain noise in them:

    Since the vibration is obviously coming from the hard drive (check to see if the vibration disappears when the hard drive spins down to verify)....

    It went on to say more about a specific problem that does not apply here, but -- if a hard drive NEVER spun down in a computer, how could they say that?

    I just want to know if I have two problems or only one.

    Thank you,
    Miss Terri
     
  12. melterx12, Mar 8, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2011

    melterx12 macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    None of the drives I had in either the 2010 or 2011 MBP ever spun down (unless it went to sleep mode)

    My 2010 MBP came with a 250GB Hitachi HDD which made absolutely no noise unless I was opening an application or copying something (no constant fan like noise at all). However I wanted a larger size HDD (500GB) so I bought a WD scorpio blue, which was pretty good but made a constant noise and vibrated (barely noticable but all the time), It just annoyed me to no end so I returned it.

    I then bought a Hitachi 500GB drive (same model as the one that came with my MBP but larger size - 5k500.b). This one ALSO made a constant noise and vibrated slightly, much like the Scorpio Blue (maybe a bit better).

    So I finally got tired of messing around with these drives and just bought myself an OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD. Now my MBP is dead silent, doesnt vibrate at all, and everything loads very fast.

    My MBP 2011 13" came with a Hitachi 320GB HDD, same model as the 250GB I had before I sold it with my MBP. This one did not vibrate at all, however it was BY FAR the loudest drive out of all the other ones I had. At first I thought it was the fan until I isolated it to be the HDD. Good thing I already had my Mercury Extreme Pro ready to swap in :)
     
  13. electronique macrumors 6502

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    #13
    Does the common setting "Put HDD to sleep when possible" put secondary HDDs to sleep - ie a hdd installed in my optibay?
     
  14. Miss Terri thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #14
    Gee, okay, maybe I just need to find the $$ for an SSD. I *love* silence, and I detest the constantly vibrating palm rest and trackpad. To the point where I'm using my G3 iBook (and if you saw it you would know how bad that is :eek:).

    So...could I ask you a couple of questions?

    1) Size. I could really only even hope to afford a 128GB. Right now I have about 105 GB on my computer. I could probably find 10-15 GB to just get rid of, and my music is about 6GB (more on that in a minute). So that would get me down to 85 GB. That should leave a bit of breathing room, right? (not sure how much needs to be free space on an SSD)

    2) I think I could put my music on an external drive, because I really only use it to populate my iPod and make the occasional playlist, buy something from iTunes, etc.

    3) The other biggie is photos, because now my camera takes larger photos than it used to. Do people put those on an external drive? Then I feel like suddenly I'm carrying around a bunch of other drives maybe?

    4) Are SSD's on the verge of changing or getting cheaper? Also I hear about sleep issues with the Sandforce/OWC drives. And then I was just reading about one that was like the Apple ones (Kingston?) and efficient due to ... um.... constant garbage collection? but then maybe wears out faster.

    Gaaah :eek: As you can see, I don't quite know what to buy if I do get an SSD! I SURE do need to do something though. This is miserable.

    Miss Terri
     
  15. brentsg macrumors 68040

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    #15
    When you use a small SSD you need to have external storage that fits for you.

    Consider external drives, network attached storage, or cloud storage.
     
  16. Miss Terri thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #16
    You know, when it comes down to it, I basically just *bought* a computer with a hard drive that is plenty large for me not to even have to think about external drives (250gb), and it is *plenty* snappy for me. So I really don't need an SSD.

    They are neat, but really, I just want my nice new computer to work as purchased. Without a large amount of vibration and noise that NONE of my other Macs have ever had. It's frustrating! Argh.

    And if I just bite the bullet and buy a new HDD.... it seems totally random as to whether a new one would be like this. :(
     
  17. kidaquarius macrumors member

    kidaquarius

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    #17
    Miss,

    Have you checked into what firmware version is on your HDD?
    The firmware on the HDD could be conflicting with MacOS' power saving software.
    Seagate had a problem with this on their Momentus XT drives.
    It's since been corrected with a firmware update from Seagate.
    Having read this entire thread, that's where I would look to next.
    Good luck.
     
  18. Miss Terri thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #18
    No, I haven't done that. But wouldn't Apple put in a hard-drive with the proper firmware? (This machine was built in November of 2010, and this hard drive is the stock Toshiba 250gb 5400 rpm drive.)

    But.... maybe I should be checking it? (Will have to figure out how.)

    My feeling now is it is probably just a defective/too-noisy drive.
     
  19. kidaquarius macrumors member

    kidaquarius

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    #19
    In theory, yes.
    In practice, maybe not.

    Go into your system profiler and serial-ata and post up your HDD model/serial and we can go out and check the vendor's website for updates or known issues.

    [sent from my android]
     
  20. rmitchell248 macrumors 6502

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    #20
    I am sorry if this was answered already but will your computer go into actual sleep mode if the sleep timer is set to say 5 minutes? Not HDD sleep or spin down but the entire machine.
     
  21. wct097 macrumors 6502

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    #21
    I've found that if I make my disk sleep, that closing the lid and reopening it spins the HDD up again and it never spins down.

    It would appear to me that my problem is related to how the OS determines if the disk is active or asleep. When it spins down, the disk is considered to be sleeping. When the laptop sleeps, then wakes up, the disk spins back up (hardware feature perhaps). The OS, however, still thinks it's sleeping and thus never put it back to sleep. The only way to get it to sleep again is to access something on the disk so that the OS considers it active, then puts it back on the timer to spin down. This even happens with unmounted drives.

    It's very annoying. My SSD is my main drive (located in the optical bay), and my HDD is my data drive. 99% of the time, I don't need access to the data drive, and I'd prefer it to be spun down until I need it.
     
  22. I'mAMac macrumors 6502a

    I'mAMac

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    #22
    I have this exact situation as well. If I put my ear to the palm rest, I can hear the HDD still spinning. (Can feel no vibration and cannot hear anything with normal use) Is this considered "spun down" or still running as normal? I didn't notice a difference after I installed the SSD and made it my startup disk.

    To the OP: It is most likely a firmware problem. Just as sandforce based SSDs have trouble starting up from hibernation, it is possible that your model HDD has problems spinning down with 10.6.4. I would do the following:

    -Update to 10.6.6 (if you haven't already)
    -reset SMC/PRAM
    -Check the HDD developers website for a firmware update
    -Get an SSD ;)
     
  23. wct097 macrumors 6502

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    #23
    Try 'ejecting' the HDD. You should be able to hear it actually spin down. Unfortunately it spins back up after sleep and the only way to get it to spin down again is to mount it and eject it again. Extremely clunky, IMO. Need to figure out if there is a way to script mounting/ejecting when returning from sleep when the drive wasn't mounted before it went to sleep.
     
  24. Biff... macrumors 6502a

    Biff...

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    #24
    This noise issue is the same problem I'm having with my 2010 Mbp. I've gone through 3 hard drives: New Apple hard drive replaced at store, Segate Momentus XT, and now a Hitachi Travelstar. I still have the same humming/whirling noise that drives me crazy. I'm going to try and change the sleep settings, maybe that will work.
     
  25. I'mAMac macrumors 6502a

    I'mAMac

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    #25
    Thanks:D Said programs were still in use so I just force ejected it. Nothing happened and I only use that drive for movies/documents at this point so worst comes to worst I do a TM restore.

    Miss Terri, has your issue been resolved?
     

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