Windows – Ways to shut down/sleep and wake up hard drives on command

hard driveshutdownsleepwindows

I have a rather noisy storage HDD in my SSD-based system (Win 8.1). Since I need the HDD only once a day tops, I have been looking for a way to keep it in sleep mode or otherwise shut down and wake it up when I actually need it. I tried removing the drive in device manager or setting the sleep interval in the energy settings to 1 minute, but that didn't really work. It kept on running.

I also tried 3rd party software:

  • Hotswap: rather reliable, but doesn't always recognize the drive plus there doesn't seem to be a way to wake it up after shutdown. Having to reboot just to access the drive is a no go.

  • RevoSleep: sends the drive to sleep mode and allows it to wake up, but fails when autostarted during boot time and also throws out random errors in general. Sometimes it even screws up the entire configuration thinking the drive is asleep while it's still running. This resulted in the drive being unaccessible with a reboot as the only fix.

I'd prefer a nice native solution that I can write a batch file for. I'd be surprised if MS didn't have a command line tool for that, but Google turned up nothing. I'd also settle for a reliable third party solution. Any suggestions?

Best Answer

Some background:

SATA drives usually have the following options:

  • Hot swap the drive (pull it from a live system, usually to replace it with a new drive after the old drive has failed).
  • The ability to spin a drive down and put it permanently in a standby-mode. (Best done before hot-swapping a drive). This mode needs a reset or a power cycle to recover from. (Which is not a problem if you are going to plug in a new drive).
  • The ability to set performance modes varying between 'as silent/as energy friendly as possible up to 'max performance and ignore everything else'
  • The ability for the OS to ask the drive to go to a low power mode (usually spinning it down). It can recover from this. There is usually a 30-ish second penalty while the drive spins back up.
  • The ability for the drive to initiate the same.

Windows solutions:

  • Managed via the OS as per Alex Atkinson's post.
  • Direct control via some program which asks the OS to send SATA commands. (examples: the commands listed in the question).

Drive solutions:

Change a setting on the drive and let the drive initiate power settings.

There are already several posts on that here on [su], mostly using hdparm. One way to do this would be to boot Linux (or BSD, or OSX) and run hdparm as root.

Or, as found by the OP, there is a windows port of hdparm. Note that you are directly communicating with hardware. This means that you will need to run it with elevated rights.


These settings should stay in the drive, even after you power off the system (annd thus the drive in it). Should you have an OS which does not [only] do its own power management but also tries to reconfigure the drives site (or a non-spec drive configured e.g. for something 'extremely green' then see this post.

Non-windows solutions:

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