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External hard drives

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External hard drives

I currently have 10 external HDDs of varying capacities permanently connected by USB to the main PC. These vary in use for video editing, media files and backups. Most get used on a daily basis and it got tedious 'ejecting' each drive one by one in windows then reaching down and turning them all off. Consequently I got lazy and just leave them on all the time.
Is there a way of shutting down all these drives with just one or two clicks then powering them down without having to power down the PC? I really want to cut my electricity usage as well as extend the useful lives of the drives.

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13 REPLIES
Midnight_Caller
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Re: External hard drives

Short answer is No, Long answer is shut them down one by one.
rongtw
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Re: External hard drives

cant you move some data onto a larger HD so reucing the number of drives ?
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Re: External hard drives

I'd be seriously looking at a file server of some sort on a Gigabit LAN.
Plusnet Alumni (retired) orbrey
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Re: External hard drives

Must admit my first thought was why don't you take the drives out of the USB cases and put them all into a PC which can then be used as a fileserver. That way you can turn them all off by turning the server off Smiley
Might be a pain if you go for a linux solution due to needing to reformat the disks (unless you use linux already of course) but I reckon that'd be the best solution.
pierre_pierre
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Re: External hard drives

a couple of these from a partner BT company might help
http://www.dabs.com/products/buffalo-2tb-drivestation-usb-2-0-desktop-hard-drive-7GJW.html?utm_sourc...
Buffalo 2TB DriveStation USB 2.0 Desktop Hard Drive  £89.98
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Re: External hard drives

If they are SATA drives, maybe an external backplane enclosure? Here's one example..  Note your motherboard needs to support SATA port multipliers.
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Re: External hard drives

Thanks for all the replies.
I don't want to go to any great expense so I think I'll simply go back to ejecting each in turn then turning off.
If only there was software about that you could select which drives to eject and then one click automatically did each in turn. Then it would just be a matter of turning the drives off in one go as they're all connected in chain to 3 4-way adaptors.

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Re: External hard drives

USBDeview looks useful, especially the "/stop_by_class" example that stops all usb storage devices. I've not tried it.
MJN
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Re: External hard drives

Quote from: Midnight
Short answer is No, Long answer is shut them down one by one.

..or get a tool to it for you. RemoveDrive doesn't appear to support wildcards or multiple entries however you could write a batch file with repeated instances of RemoveDrive being called for each drive you want to dump the cache on and prepare for removal.
If you're using Linux just run the sync command and all outstanding writes will be forced; conclusion of the command indicates completion at which point the drives can be removed or powered down. [Edit: I see now you did specify WIndows but I'll leave this here for reference]
Mathew
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Re: External hard drives

Quote from: MJN
If you're using Linux just run the sync command and all outstanding writes will be forced; conclusion of the command indicates completion at which point the drives can be removed or powered down.

That's not a good way to do it, the equivalent command line to safely remove a usb drive is to do "udisks --unmount /dev/sdb1" then "udisks --detach /dev/sdb". The "udisks --detach" may well make the drive power down, like XP, but unlike Vista or later.
MJN
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Re: External hard drives

Perhaps using 'sync' is a legacy from my Unix days, however I was working on the principle that the only reason a USB (or any other) drive should not be abruptly powered down is in case there are any open files or data in the cache pending a write. Syncing the drives with 'sync' flushes the buffers thus ensuring this can be safely done with no risk of data loss.
I've never heard of udisks before and it looks like it might be quite a new tool? It doesn't appear in Debian Lenny which was released in 2009 hence a good few years after the Linux kernel first started supporting USB disks.
Mathew
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Re: External hard drives

Even if the sync command includes the cache within the disk drive, it can't ensure nothing else will happen before you unplug the drive.
Well the rpm changelog for udisks starts at Dec 2 2009, but it was called "DeviceKit-disks" or devkit-disks for the command name for a little while before then. It replaced hal.
It might be better to have the disk shut itself down rather than just flicking the power switch (if it has one).
MJN
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Re: External hard drives

Quote from: ejs
It might be better to have the disk shut itself down rather than just flicking the power switch (if it has one).

I can't argue with that, although this can sometimes be tricky over USB, seemingly depending on the particular chipset and other aspects of the enclosure hardware being used.
Mathew