I just read in the German print magazine IT Administrator (08/2007, p. 12-13) that Vista heats-up hard disks more than XP does. Hard disks in idle mode have a five to seven degree Celsius higher temperature and hard disks in operation are seven to nine degrees warmer than under XP. The hard disk's temperature can get ten degrees higher than the vendors' specifications allow. This could cause hard disk failures eight times more frequent than with XP.

Nikolay K. Taschkow, senior consultant at the NT-academy, reported these results at the IIR Windows-Forum in Cologne, Germany. They ran extensive tests on laptops. The article didn't say anything about hard disks in desktops.

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I wonder how an OS can influence the temperature of a hard disk. I mean, I understand that a complex OS stresses a hard disk more. But, why is it happening even in idle mode?

17 Comments
  1. Max (Q) 14 years ago

    I expected such an issue. Since I installed my first versions of Vista on my Athlon I could hear the disk working all the time.
    Hard disk is rather power consuming. So this will reduce battery too and therefore your time working in battery mode. It is quite usefull to let some tasks work on your hard drive while your computer is in idle mode. Finally items like background virusscan, search indexing, etc. were quite common. Now Vista adds some more.

  2. Leonardo 14 years ago

    I hope they're talking Fahrenheit. 😛

    Being the eternal skeptic, I don't quite buy it...(And yes, I'm too lazy to translate/read even the intro, it is friday nite after all)

    I can see Vista spinning up/down drives more often (though that's just an assumption, being a newer OS I expect LESS disk-spinups), but as you mentioned, idle is idle.

    If you walked up to me and told me this on the street, I'd laugh at you, give you a quarter for your troubles and tell you to move along before getting hurt.

    I'd like to some some corroborating data and comments from Mfgs.

  3. a thought 14 years ago

    Vista has higher hardware requirements (esp RAM) than XP. That means that on the same machine, Vista will swap more than XP. That means higher temps which means more failures. This is probably all that it is, and it will go away with more RAM.

  4. dak 14 years ago

    The Hard Disk power consumation with XP is higher than Vista, because most of XP machines will never get the drefragmentation process. Vista has the built-in defragmentation utility which runs every 10 days automatically on idle time.

  5. Hugh 14 years ago

    Google published some research recently (http://research.google.com/archive/disk_failures.pdf) that said that hard drive failure rates were *not* tied to small temperature increases; "The figure shows that failures do not increase when the average temperature increases. In fact, there is a clear trend showing that lower temperatures are associated with higher failure rates. Only at very high temperatures is there a slight reversal of this trend." This seems counter intuitive but their analysis seems sound and have seen nothing so far contradicting them.

    While I am not saying the magazine is wrong in their correlation of failure rates and Vista but temperature alone would not seem to be the cause.

  6. PattyDi 14 years ago

    well I am not sure if its Vista that is overheating the laptops or if the manufacturers and the heat-sink. I have new Dell and it keeps overheating sent it back 2xs and still overheating and blue screening, I also have vista it was the only way I could get an AMD Athlon so now they say they will replace with new, but it that truly the answer or is it VISTA???

  7. Steven 14 years ago

    Funny this article was mentioned. I noticed that Vista kept accessing my Hard Disk a ton even in idle mode on my new laptop today. I kept thinking to myself what the hell is Vista doing and this cannot possibly be good for my computer. It would be interesting to know why Vista is like this.

  8. Leanardo, I also was quite surprised when I read this. If it is really true, we will probably hear about it soon when the laptop manufacturers gathered data about hard disk failures.

    a thought, this doesn’t explain why the hard disks had a higher temperature even in idle mode.

    dak, you’re right. The automatic defragmentation feature of Vista should decrease disk usage. But it seems other effects are prevailing.
    Hugh, I wonder then why hard disks vendors publish temperature limits. I suppose it depends on how much the temperature exceeds the vendor limits.

    PattiDi, usually the processor is the reason whenever a laptop overheats. So I doubt that it has something to do with the issue discussed in the article.

    Steven, one of the reasons why Vista keeps the hard disk busy is the new indexing feature. You could disable it, if you don’t need this feature.

  9. mehdi 14 years ago

    well, I used a vlited image of vista with the leaked SP1 installed, and the hard drive is almost silent... If you are expecting overheating problems , I suggest you download an utility called "hdtune", this way you can measure temperature of your hard drive.
    Frankly, I worry more about the processor.

  10. Carlo 14 years ago

    That's a little unsettling, since I just switched to a laptop.

  11. Josh Einstein 14 years ago

    Great title. Why not call it "Vista eats babies, at least that's what I hear."

    Why don't you read this and learn a little about how Vista is actually working with hardware manufacturers to make disks spin *less*.

    http://download.microsoft.com/download/9/c/5/9c5b2167-8017-4bae-9fde-d599bac8184a/Disk_Idle_Detection.doc

    That, in addition with Supetfetch (which requires a bit of RAM, yes, but by design bursts a bunch of your mode frequently used executables into memory to keep disk access down.

  12. Josh, you’re right, I exaggerated a little with the title. 😉 But I think everybody got the point. We will only know in 1 or 2 years if Vista really has a negative effect on the lifespan of hard disks. Hardware vendors will see it in their statistics. I have a Vista laptop myself, so I hope that they their prediction isn’t correct.

  13. Jay 14 years ago

    Turn off Superfetch, System Restore and Volume Shadow Copy in Administrative Tools and Services in Vista. That will stop Vista from hounding your hard drive so much and it brings the temp down big time.

  14. Jim 13 years ago

    I have a 3 month old Free Agent external drive by Seagate which worked fine using XP in a dell inspiron 9100 with 1 gig memory.
    I recently purchased a new dell inspiron which came with Vista and 2 gig memory, having all kinds of problems with the FA drive now. The disk won't pass the self check test and I can only read some of the files on it, on others I get an i/o error.

    Co worker spent 3 hours on the phone with Dell concerning internal hd problems on a new laptop with Vista, finally Dell had him format the drive and re-install the Vista operating system.

    Seems to be some issues here, I have had very few problems in the past with any laptop I have owned, Dell, Ibm, toshiba etc.

  15. Pam Payne 11 years ago

    Sounds like this is the answer to my mystery. My friend and I have Dell laptops and play alot of games. I still run XP, my friend has been using Vista. She has crashed 3 Dell laptops after replacing the drive on 2 of them. while I on the other hand am still using the same Dell laptop I have for the last 2 years. It has to be the OS making her drives go out since mine don't.

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