Does it matter which orientation (upright, horizontal, etc.) my External HDD is?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by SamIchi, Jan 9, 2008.

  1. SamIchi macrumors 68030


    Aug 1, 2004
    I was rearanging my desk and decided to lay down my external cause it looks better for my set up. The default orientation is upright.

    l l
    l l


    Does it matter? Sorry for the crude ascii's.
  2. OrangeSVTguy macrumors 601


    Sep 16, 2007
    Northeastern Ohio
  3. RedTomato macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2005
    .. London ..
    You need to have them either upright or flat. Other angles such as 45 degrees, 30 degrees etc are not recommended. (puts an uneven load on the bearings.)
  4. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    All modern drives I'm aware of use Fluid Dynamic Bearings, and aren't those essentially immune to this sort of wear? Maybe not--I admit I only have a general understandings of the mechanics of FDB drives, and haven't yet had one fail so I could take it apart and poke it.

    As far as any right angle goes, though, definitely doesn't matter--I've seen cases that mount drives in pretty much every orientation, including upside down.
  5. RedTomato macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2005
    .. London ..
    Upside down is still flat, so yes that would work.

    You might be right about bearings / axles, modern drives are much more robust, especially laptop drives.

    Still, if it was my main backup drive, a 3.5 inch 7.2k rpm drive, I'd still want to stick to the normal orientations and not experiment with sloping drives. Vibration would be one concern there.
  6. craig1410 macrumors 65816


    Mar 22, 2007
    I agree that the orientation shouldn't matter but I would expect that having it horizontal would potentially advantageous. My reasoning is that the head assembly (inc. swing arm) will not have to conteract gravity when horizontal which may improve seek times. Perhaps more importantly, if the drive was mounted vertically then the heads would experience different forces depending on which direction they were moving in. While the electronics probably have the ability to adapt I would still expect that there may be a small performance improvement by having the drives horizontal.

    Just my 2p worth...
  7. SrWebDeveloper macrumors 68000


    Dec 7, 2007
    Alexandria, VA, USA
    You can't "improve" seek times because the arm is moving at a controlled distance and the disk is spinning at a controlled speed. This synchronization results from a firmly attached arm and disk where centrifugal force has no effect on arm position or disk speed due to friction created by the arm motor, disk hub and bearings. Of couese there might be unbalance caused by an uneven distribution of the mass on the rotational part of the hard disk drive (which was stated earlier by users who noted vibrations can occur at odd angles, i.e. vibration IS unbalance).

    Vibration is an important factor limiting the increase of the storage density of all hard disk drives, actually. Some HD manufactures are considering adding an asymmetric spindle motor in order to generate an electromagnetic force which acts against the centrifugal force caused by the unbalance. This is theoretical, only, so for now - stack horizontally or vertically and not at an odd angle.

    BTW, some external HD's also have venting, so whatever you do, account for proper ventilation when you stack or position them in a cabinet.

  8. saltyzoo macrumors 65816


    Oct 4, 2007
    I wouldn't run a drive upside down for a long period of time. Otherwise no problem.

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