So I have an Openelec and external hard drive on my raspberry pi, they are all connected to a Plugin 10 Port Hub.

This is the hard drive in question: http://www.seagate.com/external-hard-drives/desktop-hard-drives/backup-plus-desk/

My problem is I leave my R-pi on all the time, the external is where I store my movies. My concern is the external hard drive. Normally on a desktop it would "power down" and stop spinning however it remains on and I can feel the hard drive spinning constantly.

Is there any way for the raspberry pi to like......shut the external down, or at least keep it from spinning 24/7?


  • A similar question. There the command sdparm is suggested. But as lenik says, it may be best to just leave the drive spinning.
    – Frepa
    Jul 5, 2013 at 14:56

3 Answers 3


there are two kind of people with external hard drives, some are looking for methods to power down the HDD when not accessed, and others are looking for methods to power it up when needed =)

from my point of view, starting and stopping hdd spindle rotation is the operation that wears the hard disk drive most. unless you have strong worries about your power bill, you'd better leave your hdd as it is, the power consumption in idle mode is quite minimal, maybe 2-3 watts at most.

  • 1
    Ok, power consumption wasn't really my worry, just that the HD was constantly spinning.....but I guess that's no different than in a desktop.
    – user5439
    Jul 5, 2013 at 14:43
  • @Mercfh there are disks from Western Digital, series "Blue" and "Green" that automatically stop after a set timeout. however, there are plenty of people on the net, who has these and complain about being unable to access the drive after it has stopped.
    – lenik
    Jul 6, 2013 at 1:26

For what it's worth I thought I would have this issue and so I started researching what I could do to achieve spin-down/up on my system : RasPi ver 2 running wheezy from the NOOBS_v1_3 zip. My external HDD : WD My Passport 1Tb 2.5" formatted as ntfs (with apt-get install ntfs-3g in the RasPi).

To my surprise it automagically spins-down! And when required (to access) spins up in about 3 seconds.

I'm assuming some of this functionality is firmwared into the WD drive. (because I didn't install any extras).

  • Also, the little My Passport gets its power from the RasPi.
    – spotburst
    Oct 21, 2013 at 11:30

Yes, I've had some initial success with:

sudo hdparm -y /dev/sda1

Starting a movie, successfully starts the drive up again. I think I will cron it for a wee hour in the morning, if I have any issues I will report back. Sorry no one got back to you six and half years ago....!

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