System Runs Slower when External Hard Drive On?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by powerhouse7, Aug 25, 2010.

  1. powerhouse7 macrumors regular

    Oct 21, 2009
    Canberra, Australia
    I've been using a LaCie Quadra 2TB Hard drive for a little over a month now.

    I've been noticing in that time that whenever I have the HD mounted my system seems to run slower in that it has lots of sporadic hang ups. I get the spinning beachball in all sorts of programs from Safari to Microsoft Word.
    I am of course assuming the Hard drive is to blame, so I was wondering:

    Can running an external hard drive (for use with Time Machine and general storage) slow a system down (in particular applications)?

    The hard drive is a 7200rpm drive and its connected via firewire 800 if that is of any importance.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks :apple:
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    What are you using the external drive for and do you have the put hard drive to sleep in the energy preference? I'm wondering if that is impacting the performance.
  3. powerhouse7 thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 21, 2009
    Canberra, Australia
    I am using the hard drive to store large data files that I don't use all that often. Things like movies and large program disk images. I also use it as my Time Machine Backup.
    I had thought of that, but the lockups seem to happen regardless of whether i'm accessing data directly through finder or not, or if the disk is spinning or idle. It doesn't seem to matter.
  4. mstrze macrumors 68000

    Nov 6, 2009
    I know that anytime I have my 'large file' external hooked up, anytime the computer needs to access files...saving, spins up all the drives (I choose to sleep that one when I can) and this spin-up process always leads to a delay. You would be surprised at how much drive access is going on in the background that you may not notice, especially with it serving as your Time Machine backup (poor choice by the way, as your 'movies and large program disk images' are not being backed up and you will lose them all if this drive fails.)

    I'd suggest either adjusting the power saving choices on the drive to have it never sleep, if it is currently sleeping. I have three externals, one for TM, one for my iTunes library and a third for a MiniDV tape backup project. Of the three, my iMovie drive produces these similar issues for me and I generally leave it off until I need it. being that yours is your TM drive, you could do this, but you'd lose the automatic backup ability.
  5. vermonter16 macrumors regular

    Nov 19, 2008
    I know this is an older thread but I have two Lacie drives daisy chained - one for photos and media and the other to back up both the one lacie drive and my internal hard drive. Lately, they seem to be causing my computer to run a little sluggish. This never happened before. Yes, it seems that they are sleeping and 'wake up'. Is it good to have a hard drive always awake?

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