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 Post subject: Cooling an external hard drive
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 4:46 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 9:58 pm
Posts: 8
Location: Japan
(Sorry, this is not really noise related, but rather power/heat related...)
Until recently, I had a 40 Gb Seagate LD25.2 (originally from a 40 GB PS3) in a cheap aluminum enclosure (USB powered) connected via USB to my modem/router, which would offer it as NAS to the internal network. No cooling was installed. It worked fine for some time, even if it was rather slow.
However, maybe a month ago, the router started to show strange behaviour... DHCP was not possible via WLAN, and file transfers would break off with error messages. Since the external drive was the only change after the initial setup, and it worked flawlessly before, I immediately suspected the drive. It turned out that the drive was getting so hot as to be uncomfortable to touch. (It was also getting warmer around that time.) I didn't really expect a 2.5" drive to need much of an airflow or cooling, but I suspected the enclosure to collect heat around the drive, so I removed the aluminum housing. The drive was then put naked next to the router, connected by the USB-to-SATA adapter unit of the enclosure.
This looked fine in the beginning, but after a short time, I had the same problems with the router as before, and the drive was as hot as before. To at least get my files off the hard drive -- which the router formatted with XFS in a way that my machine with Debian Linux wouldn't even boot if the drive was connected -- I turned a room ventilator to blow against the hard drive. That worked, but it wasn't really what I wanted as a long-term solution. :-)
So, the questions are the following:
    - Are there 2.5" drives with a power consumption low enough so that I can reliably power them from USB and can just put them somewhere without cooling them? (I'm guessing that the power consumption of the drive grew as the drive heated up, to a point where it taxed the router's USB power resources too much... is that possible?)
    - If not, are there enclosures that will cool a drive without too much noise and expense?
Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Cooling an external hard drive
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:45 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:46 am
Posts: 89
Location: Australia
I had a similar thing happen with a Seagate external drive and it ended up being a sign of imminent failure - the drive tanked after a couple of months of running hot from time to time, taking all of the data with it (yay for backups). The external had previously been cool or slightly warm to the touch at most for a couple of years of use.

Were I in your situation I'd bin the drive, based on my past experience. I don't trust HDDs which are doing anything "funny".


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 Post subject: Re: Cooling an external hard drive
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:59 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 9:58 pm
Posts: 8
Location: Japan
Thanks for your answer!
I agree... I don't really plan to use the drive again. At the very least, the computer refusing to boot was a clear indication of trouble. However, I'm worried that there is some problem in principle with a 2.5" hard drive running 24/7 without directed airflow. If I buy another drive, maybe even one that SCPR shows to consume significantly less than 5 W, won't it show the same behaviour, because it will run hot, as the other drive did?


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 Post subject: Re: Cooling an external hard drive
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 6:13 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:22 pm
Posts: 1711
Location: Guatemala
I own 2x Eagle Tech ET-CS2MSU2-BK 2.5-Inch SATA to USB Portable HDD Enclosure (Mesh) paired up with 2x Hitachi 5k500b, the enclosure has mesh all around allowing air to move through or at least the hot air is not kept inside, the 5k500b barely gets warm even transferring large amount of data (i usually transfer 300gb of movies to play on my media streamer), so to me its a good combo, but its only usb2. This combo also allows it to be driven by a single usb plug (the cable has dual in case you need it), but in my experience with 3 laptops, 2 desktops and media streamer can power the drive with 1 usb, while with 5k750 you do need the 2 usb connectors.

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 Post subject: Re: Cooling an external hard drive
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 6:35 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 9:58 pm
Posts: 8
Location: Japan
Thanks for the information! This sounds like it should be OK if I connect a new drive as is without the enclosure, maybe elevated on some small grommets to let air get to the lower side.
The Hitachi drives seem to have pretty low power consumption, judging by SPCR's review, so I guess they should be ok, power wise.


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 Post subject: Re: Cooling an external hard drive
PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:40 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:27 am
Posts: 1721
Location: Switzerland
Laptops almost never have cooling for their drives. I've never cooled a 2.5'' drive no matter how high its power consumption was. So they can get quite hot (>50C) but they're designed for it.
Still, it's a good idea to get one with a lowish power consumption, if only so that it won't try to draw more power than allowed by the USB spec (yes, there are many such drives!).

I doubt the inability to get DHCP and stuff like that has anything to do with a drive being attached on USB but it's possible your router's CPU was overloaded. They often come with very, very weak CPUs so if you try to read from a drive through them with Samba or something, they'll easily get maxed out.
I don't think that's the problem either but there are routers sold by proeminent brands which overheat and fail under load (such as P2P on broadband).


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