Ticking drives and such

Posted: November 11, 2009 in General

I’m not sure if I mentioned it or not, but as part of my laptop updated I bought a 320GB drive to swap into my new MacBook Pro. I’m not sure it it has always done it, or if it’s something that’s new (in the last month or so), but the drive ticks. It’s not a thrash like a dying hard drive, but most likely the heads being parked.

So the weird part is that it doesn’t sound like the drive cycles down, but just that it parks the heads, then unparks them a second later. Of course this only happens when the drive isn’t under load (which is most of the time). My understanding is that is is part of the power saving features of the “green” drives and seems to be worse on Macs (probably because the Mac OS is better about its disk usage).

Anyway, so today I did what any good techie does and started a Google search. It looks like I’ve found the solution (after doing a search for ticking, then finally clicking Western Digital drives). Well, perhaps solution isn’t 100% accurate. The solution is to force the drive to not go into a power saving mode (unfortunately the checkbox in the energy settings isn’t enough to do it since the problem is with the drive itself). You need to grab the command line utility hdapm and run it at boot (there’s good documentation for this). I tried playing with the numbers, but it seems like “max” is the only setting that works on my Western Digital Scorpio drive.

I’ve enabled the OS “Put the hard disk(s) to sleep when possible” setting though to make up for the fact that the drive won’t do it on its own.

I’ll need to run this setup for a while to make sure it does what I expect, but I have high hopes. So far the drive hasn’t clicked once since I’ve set hdapm to max.

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