AppleLink dialogue answers questions
Author: from AppleLink
Date: December, 1987
Keywords: tips hints hard disk drive 800k floppy yellow inserts continous use
Text: Recently, I followed this sequence of questions and answers on Apple Link about questions Mac users have. I thought you might like to see this discussion and (hopefully) final answer from Apple. I have done a little bit of editing of the AppleLink message format.
Questions To: Apple
From: Fred Showker, Shenandoah Mac User Group We have some questions that need clearing up. . . 1) Is it better to leave a hard drive running all the time? [There is a dispute about this. Some say "Yes", and some say "No".] 2) Is it OK to use an 800K External Drive on its side? 3) Is it true that the yellow disk drive inserts (for use when transporting the Mac or drive) will actually damage heads? [We were told a blank disk is much better!] ***************
Answers From: Don Parsons, Apple Computer
Question: 1) Is it better to leave a hard drive running all the time? * Answer: During long periods of time without use (ie. over night or longer), you should turn it off. Although there is a certain amount of wear and tear on the hard disk by turning it on, there is more wear and tear on the hard disk mechanism by leaving it on continuously. Hard disks that are left on constantly start making a high pitched sound. The constant spinning of the drive platters wears down bearings that are inside of the mechanism.
Question: 2) Is it OK to use an 800K External Drive on its side? * Answer: The booklet that comes with the 800K external drive, appropriately titled ''Macintosh 800K External Drive'', indicates that it is fine to use that drive on its side. On page three, there are four diagrams indicating what is acceptable and what is not. The two acceptable methods are both on the right side of the Macintosh. One is with the drive resting on its legs, and the other is on its side. The two unacceptable methods include placing the drive on top of the Macintosh and on the left side of the Macintosh.
Question: 3) Is it true that the yellow disk drive inserts (for use when transporting the Mac or drive) will actually damage heads? * Answer: The yellow disk drive inserts will not damage the heads. Page three of the ''Macintosh 800K External Drive'' manual also states that you should ''Save this yellow disk and always insert it when you transport the 800K drive''. However, if you do not have one, it would be better to use a blank disk than to transport the disk with nothing in it at all. Do not use disks that contain valuable data for this purpose because you run a chance of damaging the data on that disk. ***************
Comment from: Chris Ferino, Macadamia Here's another insight on continuous hard disk use. We have a DataFrame XP40 at the office that's on continuously being used as an AppleShare file server. Our drive DOES exhibit the squealing sound that was referred to in an earlier posting. This squeal is due to a little-known part called a ground strap. This strap is actually a small arm with a little piece of metal on the end that rests against the spindle of the hard drive, and is connected in some way to the logic on the controller board that's usually attached to the drive. After time, this little piece of metal begins to slowly wear down, and it's the metal against metal that causes the high-pitched whining. Taking an alcohol swab and cleaning the two points of contact between the small metal button and the hard drive spindle usually corrects this situation. Obviously, though, this is a step best left to those who are knowledgeable about such things. Other than that fact, which is not really physically destructive (but it's hell on the ears after while - our server is in my office!), there isn't any real danger in leaving a hard drive on continuously, other than the electric bills. ***************
Comment from: Stu Gitlow I've had a LoDOWN 20 MB drive on continuously since April 1986; it sure doesn't seem to be making any more noise now than it did originally. However, every few months or so, the unit is turned off to be moved. Upon restarting it, it makes scratching type noises for several minutes that were not heard when the drive was new. A LoDOWN 30 which was running for nearly as long before we replaced it for another model (needed more room) had no similar problems. Both drives were dependable and free of faults. I'm now using a GCC FX/40 and Rodime 100 MB drive, both of which are left on continuously, without difficulty. But neither of these have been running for more than a few months so far. ***************
Comment from: No Name Mentioned I was very interested in the question about leaving hard drives on or not. Now I AM REALLY CONFUSED. The following is from page 8 of my Hard Disk 20 manual under the heading "Switching Off": You can leave your Hard Disk 20 on unused for several days; it uses very little power. Switch it off, as described here, when you WON'T BE USING IT FOR A WEEK OR MORE, or when you want to connect it to or disconnect it from the Macintosh or other hardware. Except for the uppercase emphasis I added, the above is a word-for-word quote from what I thought was a definitive source (Apple Product #M1510). Could you please help me out of this confusion? My HD20 has been left on almost continuously for nearly 2 years, am I riding it into an early grave? ****************
Final Answer: Don Parsons, Apple Computer Inc. My answer to the question "Is it better to leave a hard drive running all the time? seems to have sparked off quite a bit of controversy and debate. This is ironic because the question was asked to end a debate within a single user group. Several of the subsequent responses have been from individuals that have hard disks of varying brands that have performed quite well through continuous use. I am very happy to hear this. In most of those cases, those people had good reasons to leave their hard disks running (i.e. BBSs, file servers, etc.). In my answer, I recommended that "During long periods of time without use (ie. over night or longer), you should turn it off.". Frequently, I see hard disks left on during nights, weekends and vacations while those Macintoshes are performing absolutely no function at all. This is what I had in mind when I referred to "long periods of time WITHOUT USE". One confused respondent referred to his original Hard Disk 20 manual. Although it is true that "it uses very little power", that is not the factor that I am concerned about. A hard disk is a mechanical device with moving parts. As with all other mechanical devices, hard disks suffer from wear and tear with use. Leaving a hard disk on when it is not being used racks up a lot of unnecessary mileage. Now, I do not mean to imply that you should avoid using your hard disk to prevent wear and tear. Also, I am not suggesting that you turn off your hard disk each time you walk away from your Macintosh. Excessively turning on your hard disk also can be stressful for an electronic device. I am suggesting that you avoid operating at either extreme if your needs will permit. For those who are running BBSs, file servers, printer spoolers, message servers, etc., I recommend that you leave the hard disk on all the time. If you use your Macintosh off and on each day, I recommend that you turn it on when you need it and leave it on until you are finished with it at the end of the day. For the most part, this is not a very critical issue. Operating at either extreme from time to time will probably only have a negligible effect on your hard disk. Extended operation at either extreme will eventually take its toll. I hope this has answered any remaining question and cleared up any confusions. Don Parsons, Apple Computer, Inc.
Copyright © december, 1987 by from AppleLink