Powering Down External Hard Drives

by on May 29, 2007

Q: I was just wondering it is better for an external HD to always keep it running or to power it on transfer necessary files and then power if off?

A: Whether or not you keep your external hard drive on all the time is a matter of preference and is usually determined by how you use it and what type of external drive it is. Some people treat their external USB (or Firewire) hard drive just like an internal hard drive, and they constantly access files from it so it needs to stay on constantly while they work. Some people use external hard drives to back up data, and would only transfer or sync data at specific times so they can afford to turn it off until they are ready to perform a backup. It is best to shut down your PC and all of its peripherals when you are done using them for a while to save energy.

If your external hard drive is Network Attached Storage (NAS), meaning that it plugs into your home router and is shared among the computers on your network, it may be best to leave it on. In a situation where the device is shared over a network, you need to verify that all of the network users have disconnected from it and are done using it before shutting it down. Ultimately, whether or not you keep your external hard drive on is determined by how you use it, and whether or not shutting it down will impact other networked users.