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When using Linux, if I want to unplug my USB external hard drive, I use the option to unmount the drive and then unplug it. However, immediately upon unplugging the ...
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  1. #1
    oz
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    USB External Hard Drive: opinions / direct knowledge requested


    When using Linux, if I want to unplug my USB external hard drive, I use the option to unmount the drive and then unplug it. However, immediately upon unplugging the drive, I hear a squeal or whining noise coming from the drive as it spins itself down. I'm assuming that the heads are being properly parked 'before' the drive is totally disabled. Still, I'm also wondering if there is any damage occurring to the drive when I hear this horrible whining noise?

    I've gotta tell you, it hurts me just a little when I hear it making that noise.

    All that said, when you use the "safely remove USB device" option under Windows XP, it unmounts and spins the drive down before it's unplugged and you don't hear the noise described above at all. I know it's being spun down because I can feel it happening when I place my hand on the drive.

    To stop the drive from making this noise under Linux, I've been using a simple script along with sdparm to spin down the drive before unplugging it, but I'm wondering if I really need to bother with doing that, or is it safe to simply unmount the drive, then unplug it without worrying about the noise being made?

    Do any of you have any opinions or direct knowledge that you can offer up about this subject?

    Thanks in advance!


    Edit: I should add that this is a USB external drive powered solely by the USB port. I don't have this issue with external drives that have their own power source.
    Last edited by oz; 06-22-2008 at 08:45 PM.
    oz

  2. #2
    Linux Guru bigtomrodney's Avatar
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    I had a laptop harddrive that made that noise too. I'm sure that this has nothing to do with it but I had two enclosures. One was metallic and it always happened with that one, but the other was plastic and there was no sound.

    Now one half of that logic is that I didn't hear the sound because the case was muffling it...but that would also infer that I was hearing the noise on the first one only because the caddy was thin and had no sound deadening. That same caddy would also have a slight rattling sound when I moved it around. Any chance your setup is like that?

    I figure not but I thought it worth mentioning especially because I used the same drive in both cases.

    In other news, you use XP?

  3. #3
    oz
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    It's just the opposite for me.

    The metal enclosure doesn't make the sound, but then it's got its own power source, and I know for sure the drive is spinning down and parking the heads properly when I turn off the power. My drive that's in a plastic enclosure (WD 250GB Passport Elite) is USB port powered and it makes the whining noise. This particular sound doesn't seem like it would be good for a hard drive, but I'm not sure. I've done plenty of looking around online and there seems to be mixed opinions about it.

    In other news, you use XP?
    Yes, at work I have to use Windows. It's one of those company requirement kind of things.

    Thanks for the reply, bigtom!
    oz

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