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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Hard Disk Drives | Construction and Operation of the Hard Disk | Hard Disk Spindle Motor ]

Power Management

Power management is a set of protocols used to allow PCs to reduce the amount of power that they consume, especially when they lie idle. Hard disk drives are always spinning during operation, and the spindle motor is what is using the bulk of the power consumed by the drive as a whole. Therefore, many power management schemes include a mechanism by which the hard disk's spindle motor can be "spun down" after a certain amount of inactivity, and then can be "spun up" (reactivated) when the system needs them again.

There is some controversy surrounding this feature. First, there is some debate as to whether or not dramatically increasing the number of times the drive spins up and down (which power management does) is detrimental to the drive or could cause it to fail prematurely. Second, there is some skepticism about how much energy is really saved, given that the hard disk doesn't use that much power under normal operation to begin with. See here for a discussion of pros and cons of power management. Certainly for laptop users power management is an important feature; all laptop hard disks support power management via BIOS settings and/or operating system controls.

Next: Hard Disk Connectors and Jumpers

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