Best kind of hard drive for heavy use?

Valeri Galtsev galtsev at
Wed Sep 14 14:55:24 UTC 2016

On Wed, September 14, 2016 8:33 am, RW via freebsd-questions wrote:
> On Wed, 14 Sep 2016 05:18:06 +0200
> Ralf Mardorf via freebsd-questions wrote:
>> On Tue, 13 Sep 2016 22:38:55 +0200, Andrea Venturoli wrote:
>> >(Speaking of WD Green, not WD in general) it is true, unless you run
>> >their utility (DOS only!) which disables this "feature".
>> >However the drives will tend to fail in a short time all the same.
>> That perhaps was true for some older drives, that spin down after a
>> few seconds, but it anyway required something to wake up the drives
>> again. Howvere, it's untrue for those drives that are just a few
>> years old. My spins down after 30 minutes, and stays a sleep , if no
>> evil software touches it.
> Drives are typically rated for 300k load-cycles, so at 30 minutes
> it's a non-issue - running the drive cooler and avoiding wear on
> the moving parts probably extends its life.

Disagree. It is actually an opposite. Spinning down is the same as turning
the drive off: heads are spring loaded and are pushed away from platters
by the air which acts as viscous liquid when head flies fast close to
platter surface. Stop this motion, head will land on surface, for this
reason heads are moved to parking position before drive is spun down. To
park heads they release arm with heads, it is pulled by the spring into
"parking" position, and stops there by banging into the stopper pin. This
is a big stress, and mechanism can withstand only this number of such
bangs. To the contrary, keeping platters spinning does not apply any
stress onto any mechanical parts, except bearings, which can live very
long, especially if platter assembly is very well balanced and bearings
are well designed and manufactured.

I believe, there was long thread somewhere and this in particular was
discussed there too. In any case, "consumer" grade drives never come to
composite time of use like 8-10 years (drives on many servers are up and
always hot for about this long), so no one would care of the fact
"consumer grade" drives experience stress banging arm with heads on
stopper, no one would care much for these drives to have well balanced
rotor (platters) and bearing of extra high longevity. No one expects them
to be used that intensely, and they are often getting thrown away 3 -4
years down their easy life.

Just my $0.02


>> I don't use gvfs, smartd and similar software
>> that touches the drives and enforce a spin up, directly after the
>> drives goes asleep.
> Are you saying that smartd does that when it's only monitoring? And do
> you mean all drives, or just the one the OS is on?
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Valeri Galtsev
Sr System Administrator
Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics
University of Chicago
Phone: 773-702-4247

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