How to Turn Off a Hard Drive When Not in Use


I am used to my SSD drive which is completely inaudible. However, my Dell laptop originally came with a hard drive which I kept as a backup drive after I installed the SSD drive. The loudness of this backup drive is mind-numbing. After a few hours of work it made me go crazy.

Since it is a backup drive, I don’t need it every day. So, I decided to temporarily disable the loud hard drive.

There are several ways to do this.

Turn Off Hard Drive via Power Options


Turn off HDD

The simplest way is to set a spin-down timer via Control Panel > System and Security > Power Options > Change plan settings > Change advanced power settings.

In the Power Options window, you can specify after what amount of idle time will your hard drives be spun down and turned off.

The settings will apply on a per hard drive basis, i.e. only the inactive hard drives will get turned off after set time, not all your hard drives.

If you don’t have this option available, you can add it to your Windows registry.

To do this, launch Command Prompt from Start > All Programs > Accessories.

In the Command Prompt window, type and enter the following command:


You can copy-paste commands to Command Prompt. However, when pasting them into the Command Prompt window instead of Ctrl+V use right-click and then select Paste from the drop-down menu.

Disable Hard Drive in Device Manager

However, this may not be enough in all cases.

Even if you turn off indexing in Windows and you manually don’t access the hard drive’s contents, some other programs or services might still be accessing it in the background from time to time.

Then, what happens is that the hard drive gets spun down and turned off, and then a minute later it gets spun up again. This is not only a loud but also a very frustrating process.


Disable HDD

To disable a hard drive completely, you need to go to Control Panel > System and Security > Device Manager.

In Device Manager’s window, find the Disk drives section and right-click on the hard drive’s name you wish to disable.

Then click Disable in the drop-down menu.

To enable the hard drive again, all you need to do is go back to Device Manager, right-click on the hard drive’s name and click Enable in the drop-down menu.

Windows will ask you to restart your computer following both the disabling and the enabling of a hard drive.

The Good Old Days

Some years ago, Microsoft came out with the DevCon utility. This utility appended the Device Manager by a command line.

For example, to disable a loud hard drive you didn’t have to go to Device Manager as described above. It was enough to launch Command Prompt and use a command to do it.

It was so simple. Unfortunately it doesn’t work with modern 64-bit Windows installations.

Anyway, you can try it and maybe you will be able to use it on your system.

After downloading the utility, you need to unzip it, and then use the correct version of the executable file depending on your system.

To use it, you’ll need to know the ID of the hard drive you would like to disable.

You can find the IDs of your installed hardware by using the following command:

After you will know the hard drive’s ID, you will be able to use the following command to disable it:

However, instead of ID you will type in the actual ID of the hard drive.


A disabled hard drive will still consume power, though. You would need to physically unattach it from your computer to make it stop sucking power. Even turning the hard drive off in BIOS doesn’t help.

With desktop computers, you have the option to buy and install an additional hard drive dock (also called rack or caddy) with an on/off power button. This costs about $30-$40 on average. And then you have the luxury to turn off a hard drive completely, i.e. it won’t be consuming any power.

With my laptop, that’s not an option. So I have to settle for the next best option.

There is also a lot of debate about hard drive wear and tear. Some say that disabling the drive is bad for it long-term. Others say that spinning it down and then up again whenever a program or service accesses it is even worse.

I think that under normal circumstances it doesn’t really matter. The hard drive will fail after the same amount of overall use. For me it is better to disable a hard drive I rarely use because of the unbearable noise of its spinning.

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