Three factors that will keep drives from spinning down

Discussion about hard drive spin down (standby) feature of NAS.
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Three factors that will keep drives from spinning down

Post by ChuckDavis666 » Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:04 pm

I have identified three factors that will keep drives from spinning down after a period of inactivity. (I was also investigating what seemed to be the related issue of constant disk activity, and was able to identify what is probably causing the constant activity on certain drives. See viewtopic.php?f=55&t=131537.)

To identify these factors I lobotomized my QNAP NAS to the level of a slug to make sure it wasn't an application or service that was causing (what I thought was) the constant disk activity. For testing I set the inactivity timer to 5 minutes.

** Using a Windows mapped drive causes enough disk activity to keep the disks from spinning down. (A separate admin user for the mapped drive actually appears in the QTS Dashboard.) Disconnecting the drive mapping in Windows does not appear to be sufficient to stop the disk activity; the PC has to be rebooted. Solution: Use //w.x.y.z/ (IP address) or //NASName/ instead.

** Being logged into QTS using the web browser interface also causes enough disk activity to keep the disks from spinning down. Solution: Logout when not actively working in QTS. Especially important to logout when testing disk drive behavior.

** Note - Running Qfinder Pro on a PC does not impact disk drive activity.

With no Windows mapped drives, being logged out of QTS and with a 5 minute inactivity timer my disk drives will spin down. With the inactivity timer changed to 10 minutes the drives would still spin down.

When the inactivity timer was changed to 15 minutes, however, the drives would not spin down. I determined that it is QNAP Cloud that activates every 10-15 minutes and keeps the drives from being spun down by QTS.

On my (de-lobotomized) system, at least, I believe that any failure of the drives to spin down will be a normal consequence of whatever applications and services happen to be running. I am not too concerned about this, since as has been pointed out in other postings the spin down/spin up is harder on the drives than a (normal) amount of reading, writing and spinning at idle. In addition, some drives with constant disk activity are, in fact, doing an almost constant surface scan which has been accounted for in the MTBF of the drives. (This surface scan is being performed by the drive firmware, and is not visible to QTS, so does not keep QTS from spinning down the drives.)

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Re: Three factors that will keep drives from spinning down

Post by storageneeded » Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:09 am

A few things in your post are a concern. First, it's largely a myth that spin up/down is harder on drives then letting them spin 24/7. If it's happening every 5 minutes it might be, but for drives to spin down after say 30 minutes of inactivity, and stay that way for at least several hours, is shown to reduce wear on the drives and substantially reduce power consumption. There is nothing inherently hard on a drive to spin down or spin up. Laptop drives, which are less reliable and robust than 3.5 inch drives, do it all the time. It involves far less head movement than even a very small read operation. And it's not like the spindle motor will overheat from spinning up the platters a few times a day. On the plus side it saves substantial wear on the spindle bearings, let's the drive run much cooler, and lets the heads stay parked while saving energy. It also helps the entire NAS run cooler and quieter and extends the life of the power supply.

Further, apps like Qnap's Cloud are the root of this problem. My older Qnap NAS units running 3.x readily spin down and stay that way even for settings greater than 15 minutes. My new Qnap NAS with 4.3.3, however, won't even properly spin down right out of the box even with no LAN connection at all. Qnap has clearly broken the spin down functionality with the addition of their many added apps and bloat. Just like most of the many security problems are related to in-house Qnap apps and processes, the issues with drives sleeping seem to be related to the Qnap developed apps and processes as well. This doesn't seem to be a problem with the Linux kernel or basic Linux file services, network services, etc. It's a problem with what Qnap has layered on top of the OS to add features most of us don't use or need. Qnap has broken a key aspect of NAS functionality.

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