Windows 10 – How to control hard drive power down

By default Windows 10 will power down hard drives after 20 minutes of inactivity (or if the computer is a laptop, 10 minutes when on battery).

For solid state drives (SSD) this has no affect, but for traditional mechanical hard drives, when this happens the hard drive will ‘spin down’ – reducing its power usage and giving the drive an opportunity to cool down.

There are however two disadvantages – a slight delay for the drive to come out of ‘standby’ can make accessing files slower, and the process of turning the drive on and off could increase wear on the drive, reducing its life.

If you want to change this, for example to change it to 30 minutes or completely turn it off you’ll need to go into the advanced power options.

  1. In the Windows search box (bottom left of the screen), type ‘Power Options’
  2. Click on it when it appears in the list above
  3. Click on the ‘Change plan settings’ link for the currently active power plan (the bold one)
  4. Click on the ‘Change advanced power settings’ link
  5. Under ‘Hard disk’ you’ll find ‘Turn off hard disk after’. This is where you can control if and when the hard drives will power down after a period of inactivity. If you want to turn this feature off all together set this option to 0.
  6. Click ‘OK’ to save the changes.

Note that:

  • This option has no affect on a solid state drive (SSD)
  • Hard drives will continue to spin down when the computer is in standby mode

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7 comments on “Windows 10 – How to control hard drive power down

  1. The answer is to type in Never in the boxes (same as zero).

    This will keep most drives running non-stop, unless programmed by it’s firmware to ‘park’ every 8 seconds or so. Used to be a very easy fix with the bootable WDIDLE ISO (most WD SATA-1 & 2 drives), the brakes could be set to disabled. Saves a lot of wear & tear on the component which actually ‘kills’ the drive (click of death).

    Rarely will the platters themselves go bad. This is why it’s a must to destruct the drive before throwing away by drilling 12-15 holes all the way through. Follow up by placing drive now full of holes into a sack & smashing with a hammer several times. If still usable (no clicks nor bad SMART readings), can be wiped with a partition tool as a Data drive. Or install into an aluminum SATA enclosure of the same size to use for backup.

  2. Just got a new Asus laptop, and when I go into power options and advanced settings for the power plan, I don’t see a hard drive option in the tree…I have display, battery, desktop, and a couple other things. I’m an internet broadcaster with an extensive music collection on my drive, and since getting this laptop, because the drive spins down during voice breaks and such, often, it takes it a few seconds to play the next track. Very annoying, and not fun for me or the listeners.

  3. Years later, still wondering why the fuck my Surface Pro 4 doesn’t have this option, and why i can’t use external drives without them powering off after /literally/ 15 seconds.

    Microsoft needs to stop pretending they’re apple and give me back control of my operating system. This is absolutely insane. My music collection is stored on an external drive, and i can’t listen to albums without the hard drive needing to spin back up every song. This causes unneccesary wear on the drive and further causes a nearly 30 second gap between every track.

    This sucks, microsoft, give me back my control.

  4. My problem (on a laptop computer) is an EXTERNAL hard drive. The newer one stays running, but the 8-year-old one stops after about 10 minutes and I have to power it off to resume operations, sometimes in the middle of a file transfer. Similarly, the newer external hard drive starts in the background. When the old one starts up, it LAUNCHES xplorer2 to display its content. The unwanted pop-up is also annoying.

  5. I don’t see ‘Hard disk’ under ‘Advanced settings’. I have a USB drive that used to spin down when not in use but now doesn’t. I’d love to be able to fix it!

  6. You should state that this only works on the drive where your OS is installed. For me its installed on a ssd. this doesn’t do anything because its a ssd. my hdd is my secondary drive and thats where my problem is. it randomly goes into standby mode and turns on when something is accessing files on it. this is very annoying because every 30 seconds it gives me a 1-2 sec delay.

    1. “You should state that this only works on the drive where your OS is installed.”

      Correction: It only works on drive where the OS is NOT installed. If you want to avoid the power down procedure at all, set the time to “never”

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