Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hard Drives Keep Spining Down

Western Digital MyBook external drives are notorious for having a mind of their own (firmware) which spins them down seemingly every other minute (actually every 10mins). During a 60min export a friend called and asked me why it was failing repeatedly seemingly in the same location. Could the files be corrupted somehow? Asking about his set up I knew the problem when he mentioned there were two WD external drives connected to the system.

There are a few things to you can do to stop this.

01) Boot into Windows and alter their firmware with Western Digital's own tools. Good luck with this.
02) Pay $10 for No Spin. Which I haven't tried.
03) Install the FREE Keep Drive Spinning but under Snow Leopard it'll require Rosetta.
04) Download the FREE Disksomnia, which I've mentioned before, but in order to download it you must provide your email address (they email you a link to download it...evil) which opens you up to spam, their newsletters and other junk. Also, the Disksomnia installers requires your admin password which I never like. Pacifist shows that all it installs is the app and then sets it as a log-in item.

I don't like log-in items and just need the app. Yay for pacifist.

05) Mac OS X Hints has a Bash Script to keep the drives spinning. Your luck may vary with this.

This has become such a bother for me that I'm no longer using or accepting WD External drives for editing from clients.

Some suggestions I've received are essentially variations on the same idea: Put a media file on the drive and keep it playing in a loop. Small .mov, .mp3, etc...


Unknown said...


"which opens you up to spam, their newsletters and other junk"

For the record, by signing up to receive our freeware, you will indeed receive Digital Heaven newsletters (which you can easily unsubscribe from at any time) but we have never and will never share your email address with 3rd parties. This is stated very clearly on the freeware signup page and I'd appreciate a correction on this blog post.

On the other point, Pacifist isn't telling the whole story - it is not just the app. When it is running, Disksomnia is invisible to the user so there's no UI or icon in the Dock. We provide Disksomnia through an installer so any running instance of the app can be terminated before being replaced with the new version. Without this script in the installer, users would not be able to update to a newer version without first quitting it in Activity Monitor.

Finally regarding log in items, Disksomnia is an "install and forget" application so naturally it needs to be added to the log in items for it to launch automatically. There would be no point having such an app that needs to be manually launched.

I hope that clarifies things


Martin Baker
Digital Heaven

Walker Ferox said...

My story is that I didn't realize an older version was still running and not 10.6.x compatible until it crashed during an editing session with a client. So I don't think "install and forget" is a solution for everyone when things like another editor installing it and not letting others know, occur. There should be an indicator of the process.

I'd prefer a dock app or a menu bar toggle letting me know it's running. Idle, it's seems to hold two threads and 40≈ Mbs VM and about 6 actual memory.

It's also not 64 (bit) which for some reason is all the rage now days.

Personally, I'd prefer an app that needs to be manually launched but I'm a control-enthusiast. I launch and quit Disksomnia via the terminal as I need it.