Turn off Hard Disk after a particular period of idle time to save power

We have seen how we can use PowerCFG tool to find out the health and status of a laptop’s battery. In its Error Report, you may see many causes of errors, some of which can be easily rectified by you, so as to improve your laptop battery.

We have already seen many tips on how to conserve Battery Power and Extend Battery Life in Windows 7.  Some of you may have even read the Laptop Battery Usage & Optimization Guide.

Again, some of you may have even tried this Power Automated Troubleshooting Solution that helps you adjust power settings to help improve battery life and reduce power usage.

Turn off Hard Disk in Windows

But there is one more thing you can do and that is to turn off hard disk after a particular period of complete inactivity. If you are plugged in, well, there is no question of extending battery life – but you can save power. If you are on battery, this will help save power usage and extend your battery life. As mentioned earlier, you can run ‘Powercfg’, to get the Power Efficiency Diagnostic Report for your laptop.

When our Windows computer is idle, it is designed to perform some common maintenance tasks to improve performance, like defragmentation, search indexing, paging operations, logging of events, checking for Windows Updates, creating automatic restoration points, scheduled tasks performance, Superfetching, 3rd party activities like that on an antivirus software, loading of drives or services, DHCP or Autonet or Network detection and so on. These are usually run the first time your computer is idle and may take a couple of minutes.

Once all these are done, and your computer is completely idle, you may set it to turn off disk activity. Turning off the hard disk will help extend your battery and would be useful when you are running on low battery.

And there is nothing to worry here actually, for even if you have set your hard disk to turn off after say 5 mins, if there is some background maintenance task being carried out, it will not shut down – but instead the system will reset the hard disk’s idle timer.

To turn off hard disk after a particular period of idle time, type Power Options in start search and hit Enter. Once the Control Panel applet opens up, select Edit or change Plan settings. Next click on Change advanced power settings.

Here under Hard Disk, you can set it to turn off after a particular period of idle time. Click on both options and set them to what you want. I double clicked on ‘Never’ and changed it to 30 minutes in my case. Thus, I have set mine to 10 minutes while on battery and 30 minutes while the battery is plugged in. You may decide and set a figure for yourself.

Do not that in such cases, when you wake your computer back, it may take a few extra seconds, since the hard disk requires time to turn on.

If you are looking to learn more about Disk Idle Detection, Configuring Disk Idle Detection Policies and Using PwrTest to Observe Disk Idle Detection and generally  about the infrastructure supporting disk idle detection in the Windows operating system, you can download this whitepaper on Windows Disk Idle Detection from MSDN.

Pro’s and con’s of the different Power Plans available in Windows 7 may also interest you.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.