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

  1. Doesn’t work. Power settings are not the problem, because they have no effect. Windows 10 after a time just ignores those settings and locks the drive busy with the hard drive light solid on. It has to be some obscure as yet undefined routine sitting in the Task Scheduler. This happens when the computer has been left on for a while. In the case of my computer laptop, 24 hrs per day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks per year, year after year. The only way I can escape a lock out, which sometimes manifests itself as an unresponsive mouse click, or keyboard tap, and a solid hard drive light, is with a hard reset. This very necessary procedure that must happen at least 10 times per week. Yes windows design is to purposely do this, but it’s for telemetry data collection, and arbitrary management operations that have no settings to adjust. You see this operating system is what Microsoft wanted all along. A dumb terminal for a consumer product purchasing tool, and being halfway there, they have arbitrarily altered a real gem of an operating system into a Chinese style bullyish overseer. Yes it is a political problem requiring a political solution.

  2. 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.

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