Snow Leopard keeps activating external harddrives

Discussion in 'macOS' started by jackerin, Oct 14, 2010.

  1. jackerin macrumors 6502a

    Jun 29, 2008
    Just updated to 10.6 from 10.4, and one of the first things I notice is that it keeps spinning up my three external harddrives at actions that should not set them in use, like starting an application or opening the trash. It seems pretty random, though I'm suspecting it has something to do with mdworker, quicklookd or both.

    If anyone knows of a solution that doesn't involve unmounting the harddrives, do tell.
  2. wrldwzrd89 macrumors G5


    Jun 6, 2003
    Solon, OH
    Opening the Trash WILL cause external drives to spin up - for the simple reason that the Mac OS X Trash view in the Finder is a unified Trash - i.e. it spans all connected drives.

    I do, however, wish Mac OS X wouldn't spin up externals when opening an Open/Save dialog unless I actually WANT to use the external. That may be what's happening when you start some applications.
  3. jackerin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 29, 2008
    It feels like in the short time I've had Snow Leopard installed my externals have spun up and down as many times as they did in an entire month before...

    Just today I had two instances where one or several activated as I was browsing the web (one time in the middle of loading a new page, the other while opening a new browser window, both times the active window beachballed until the drive had started) and once when I was just opening a folder with MP3s, the harddrive where my iTunes library resides spun up.
  4. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    You are asking for the impossible. If volume--in your case an external hard drive--is mounted, then it is in use. If it is use, then it may spin. The only way to ensure that it does not spin is to dismount the drive.
  5. Playgear macrumors regular

    Apr 10, 2010
    If you want to stop OS X from spinning down the external drives, turn off the setting in the 'Energy Saver' pane of System Preferences.
  6. RobLewis macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2004
    I actually filed a bug with Apple

    about this issue as it relates to Time Machine backup drives. There is no reason to ever spin up a dedicated Time Machine drive unless (a) you're going to do a backup, or (b) you want to restore files. And yet whenever I wake up my Mac, I have to sit there with a dead mouse and frozen system while the Time Machine drive spools up. Frustrating…and unnecessary.
  7. jackerin thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 29, 2008
    Strange how what was default behaviour in 10.4 now is impossible. I'd prefer not to have the drives spinning all the time since the computer is located right next to my bed.

    What I would like to know is which services I can disable to stop them spinning up constantly. And yes, the obvious solution would be to downgrade to 10.4, which is not the best option, but one that grows closer with each day.
  8. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    Your external enclosure(s) may have something to do with it.

    In March 2010 I bought an Oyen Digital external drive (the RS-M2QO) and put two drives in it and set it to JBOD (rather than RAID).

    The drives wouldn't spin down when the MBP they were attached to slept.

    I had a Macally FW800 external attached to the same MBP and it spun up and spun down as expected. No problems there.

    After many emails and tests, Oyen concluded that the fault lay with the Oxford 936 chipset (well, more specifically with the way that chip interfaced with the JBOD firmware and Snow Leopard). If you look at their site now, they state that it won't spin down in JBOD mode, so clearly they haven't found a fix.

    Do you have another external enclosure you could try? Different manufacturer? If you can get one, it would be an easy test -- especially if you can get one of the Macally FW800 ones, since I know from experience that it does what you want.
  9. xi mezmerize ix macrumors 6502a

    xi mezmerize ix

    May 24, 2010
    Maryland, USA
    Why are they plugged in if you don't want to use them?
  10. LPZ macrumors 65816

    Jul 11, 2006
    "Impossible" seems a bit strong. One wonders if the OS could do a better job of deciding when it needs to spin up a drive. I have also been "beach-balled" loading a web page or a mail message, while for some reason the OS feels compelled to spin up my Time Machine drive (and not for a regular TM backup).

    Love 10.6, but this "feature" seems like a flaw to me.
  11. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    Lots of external drives spin down on their own and OSx can't do anything about it.
  12. kolax macrumors G3

    Mar 20, 2007
    I'm in the same boat. I always unmount my hard drives to prevent them spinning up.

    I can't stand opening the Save dialogue and then having to wait for my external hard drives to spin up, even though I haven't selected them as a save location!

    Wrong end of the stick.
  13. fgersch macrumors newbie

    Aug 24, 2005
    Access only when needed.

    I do not see any good reason for this being a discussion about spinning up or down of drives.

    The problem as I see it is the OS accessing volumes that it does not need to.
    If you were accessing them all the time I can see there being a performance advantage to keeping them spun up.

    Reality is most folks only need to access their external drives once in a while for either backups or to work on a specific project in which case we don;t mind the time taken to spin up the drive as we start to work with it.

    Problem is accessing all my drives just to attach something on my internal SSD home drive makes using my mac pro seem more like using my 486 back in 1990 (yes that dates me!).

    Make it a choice damn it. This has been a problem for years now and it's getting worse as they add more and more sophistication to the indexing.

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