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Last post Author Topic: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?  (Read 11245 times)

wreckedcarzz

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Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« on: April 27, 2009, 11:32:30 PM »
I have a small home file storage/backup/ĀµTorrent/BOINC server that runs pretty much 24/7 on a dresser in my room. It is a great little machine from 2001 with 1.6Ghz P4, 768MB DDR RAM and an ATi Radeon X1300 AGP card; however, the two IDE hard drives get EXTREMELY hot ("burning" hot) during intense file movements, defrags, things of that nature. I used to have a small hard drive cooler that sat on the bottom of the drive (via screws, or in my case, jury-rigged in) sporting 2x 80mm fans - it met its demise when the power plug ... melted. Both drives work great (both from 2002 now, aftermarket drives), so there isn't anything wrong except for the heat output (no grinding, data loss, etc).

So now I am looking for a new hard drive cooling system - air or water, but it has to be reasonably cheap (anything over $50 is pushing it unless it is water-cooling). If anyone had a recommendation for a good freeware HD Temperature (F/C compatible) monitor, that would be great as well :)

4wd

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2009, 12:46:27 AM »
If they're getting that hot then the case is poorly ventilated and/or poorly designed and/or the HDDs are poorly positioned.

A cheap solution:
Move the HDDs towards the back as far as they'll go, (drill a couple more holes in the mount if you have to), and position an 80mm fan in front of them so that it blows air back over them.  Mount it with double-sided foam tape.

But your problem is still poor case ventilation, you'll now have a load more hot air to get rid of.

Software: SpeedFan

BTW, if the HDDs are that old and running that hot NOW is the time to backup all the data on them and replace them.

EDIT: Alternative software available for free: O&O DriveLED2
« Last Edit: April 28, 2009, 05:12:24 AM by 4wd »

Deozaan

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2009, 01:45:51 PM »
BTW, if the HDDs are that old and running that hot NOW is the time to backup all the data on them and replace them.

Isn't having a hot hard drive causing data loss kind of a misnomer?

I read somewhere that Google did a test on their zillions of hard drives and found that the drives that were running on the cool side were more likely to fail than the drives running hot.


wreckedcarzz

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2009, 05:48:43 PM »
BTW, if the HDDs are that old and running that hot NOW is the time to backup all the data on them and replace them.

Isn't having a hot hard drive causing data loss kind of a misnomer?

I read somewhere that Google did a test on their zillions of hard drives and found that the drives that were running on the cool side were more likely to fail than the drives running hot.

That's interesting, never heard of that before. Kind of how a CPU that says at a constant temperature has a longer lifespan and better performance than those with variable temps.

The only thing I notice is that when the drives get hot, speed decreases slightly (up to 50% slower during the really extreme high temps, as seen during Analyze/Defragging with Defraggler). Right now I have a temporary 120mm fan on the front of the case, blowing air between the 2 drives (below C, above D). The case design is not very good (it was made to be a high-end office PC back when it was new, so "Home Server" kind of pushes that, especially with its age). Images attached.

Computer as-is normally (faceplate removed):
DSCN1253.JPGHard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?

Up close (both drives visible):
DSCN1254.JPGHard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?

Up close 2 (both visible):
DSCN1255.JPGHard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?

Up close (length of case visible):
DSCN1256.JPGHard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?

Full case:
DSCN1257.JPGHard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?

BTW: The IDE ribbons are *not* in the way of airflow, as the images lead to believe. The computer is also ON (and that fan is spinning) in the pictures, too (camera captured it otherwise).

Based on those pictures, any suggestions what I could do to get more air flowing? My temporary solution won't last long (sister/friend comes over, "What's this? OW MY FINGER" is imminent... :-\)

Deozaan

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2009, 06:21:36 PM »
Having the sides off the case actually decreases airflow.


mouser

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2009, 06:28:48 PM »
interesting, i never thought of that deo..
the other thing having case sides off does is attract dust and stuff that could cause trouble.

Target

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2009, 06:31:36 PM »
Having the sides off the case actually decreases airflow.

probably wouldn't make that much difference in this setup

personally I'd cut an opening in the case behind the fan, mask the openings in the case either side of the fan, and mount the fan so it's drawing rather than blowing...

Target

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2009, 06:39:38 PM »
interesting, i never thought of that deo..

(good?) cases are supposedly designed to flow - theoretically 'cool' air is drawn in and over the hottest areas

Could be it does, though I'm not totally convinced as there seem to be a lot of places this could break down

4wd

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2009, 06:45:26 PM »
BTW, if the HDDs are that old and running that hot NOW is the time to backup all the data on them and replace them.

Isn't having a hot hard drive causing data loss kind of a misnomer?

If the drives are running so hot that they are "burning" hot then most likely the spindle lubricant has failed, eg. it's partially solidified.  I've had this happen with a drive from 2001 that hadn't been spun up for a while.

If the drive is hot because of poor air flow then it won't be "burning" hot, it will be uncomfortably hot but you can still rest your hand on it for a rather long period of time.

As Deo said, cut the case away behind the fan, 50% of the air flow is being blocked - however, I'd still have it set to blow over the HDDs since you know where the air is going and you are using cooler outside air to do the cooling.

I read somewhere that Google did a test on their zillions of hard drives and found that the drives that were running on the cool side were more likely to fail than the drives running hot.
Massive Google hard drive survey turns up very interesting things
Quote
When your server farm is in the hundreds of thousands and you're using cheap, off-the-shelf hard drives as your primary means of storage, you've probably got a a pretty damned good data set for looking at the health and failure patterns of hard drives. Google studied a hundred thousand SATA and PATA drives with between 80 and 400GB storage and 5400 to 7200rpm, and while unfortunately they didn't call out specific brands or models that had high failure rates, they did find a few interesting patterns in failing hard drives. One of those we thought was most intriguing was that drives often needed replacement for issues that SMART drive status polling didn't or couldn't determine, and 56% of failed drives did not raise any significant SMART flags (and that's interesting, of course, because SMART exists solely to survey hard drive health); other notable patterns showed that failure rates are indeed definitely correlated to drive manufacturer, model, and age; failure rates did not correspond to drive usage except in very young and old drives (i.e. heavy data "grinding" is not a significant factor in failure); and there is less correlation between drive temperature and failure rates than might have been expected, and drives that are cooled excessively actually fail more often than those running a little hot. Normally we'd recommend you go on ahead and read the document, but be ready for a seriously academic and scientific analysis.

I would think that when they say "a little hot" they don't mean "burning hot".

BTW, Maxtor earned a rather good name for themselves in the 80's & 90's.....alas, that didn't carry through to the 2000's ;)

Personally, I've never used a Maxtor since the rather expensive DiamondMax 10 I bought ran at a temperature of 70+C and failed to work.

EDIT: You should also cut out the pressed metal grill that the rear fan uses as it's wasting it's time sitting there spinning with that amount of metal in front of it.  If you must have a grill, (to save the cat's tail), then use a wire grill like you used to find on decent PSU's, like this one.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2009, 07:34:03 PM by 4wd »

mouser

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2009, 07:00:40 PM »
i dont think ive ever had a drive that wasnt scorching hot to the touch after it's been running for a while.. i'd like to see some real numbers from experts before people starting getting scared about their hd temps.

4wd

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2009, 07:02:31 PM »
i dont think ive ever had a drive that wasnt scorching hot to the touch after it's been running for a while.. i'd like to see some real numbers from experts before people starting getting scared about their hd temps.

My drives run at between 30-40C continuously, no matter what they are doing.  I can rest my hand on them from sun up to sun down and all that will happen is I'll get hungry ;)

BTW, it's not just the temperature I referred to when I suggested replacement - it was also the age.

7 years is a lot of life in HDD terms especially when we're not talking about enterprise class HDDs.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2009, 07:32:59 PM by 4wd »

wreckedcarzz

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2009, 08:01:30 PM »
With the case closed, the computer actually seems to more heat (the rear fans blow out air that is noticeably hotter than with the side door removed), hence I removed it. I might put my temperature monitor/fan control bay into it and see what it says (the wires, oh god the wires... *shakes with horror*)...

If the drives are running so hot that they are "burning" hot then most likely the spindle lubricant has failed, eg. it's partially solidified.  I've had this happen with a drive from 2001 that hadn't been spun up for a while.

Interesting... this computer did sit dormant for a bit a while back (a couple years now) - it had a dead PSU and I, at the time, couldn't diagnose the issue (but I eventually learned what was wrong all by myself! :D). Dunno if a span of a few months is sufficient, though.

I would think that when they say "a little hot" they don't mean "burning hot".

When I say "burning hot" I mean where I can touch it for ~.5-1 second and have to take my fingers/hand away and say "Ow!", so I would assume as much.

Having the sides off the case actually decreases airflow.

probably wouldn't make that much difference in this setup

personally I'd cut an opening in the case behind the fan, mask the openings in the case either side of the fan, and mount the fan so it's drawing rather than blowing...

I could cut the hole, but the front panel *still* won't fit on with it there. I need a more "permanent" setup than the front mounted fan. I did have a blazing fast 80mm fan there before (about 1/2cm thick, so it fit great), but it is out of balance and makes an awful noise, and then it usually hits the metal case, making more noise... horrible for sleeping :'(

Also, replacement of the drives is absolutely out of the question - I bugged my dad about it back in January/Febuary, and the money is simply not available. Damn economy...

Target

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2009, 08:20:44 PM »
With the case closed, the computer actually seems to more heat (the rear fans blow out air that is noticeably hotter than with the side door removed),

this is to be expected as it's actually drawing the air out of the case instead of just sucking cold air from the big hole in the side (the path of least resistance)

Quote
I could cut the hole, but the front panel *still* won't fit on with it there.

will it fit on the inside of the case, ie where it is now, but between the drives and the case?  There's usually room (at least in my limited experience)

If there's some room, but not enough, just cut the hole slightly larger than the outside of the fan and mount it as far in as you can comfortably get it - cut a couple of strips out of a steel can for mounts and seal the gap with some scraps of thin foam packing.

Actually it occurs to me that you could kill some of the noise by using soft mounts - there's no load so reasonably heavy card would work inplace of the tin mounts   

wreckedcarzz

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2009, 08:28:05 PM »
The problem with the front fan setup though is that, if I were to cut the hole and put the fan 1/2 in 1/2 out, it would hit more resistance than it is now, because both hard drive slots would be partially blocking it (making it about 1/2 effective instead of the 3/4 or so it is now). The front won't work unless I had a smaller fan - I need something that will fit on top of/under the drives, to blow air on/over/along them. Front and side don't work, and if I went to the back of the drive cage (in relation to the front of the computer) it would have little/no cool air coming in (no fan pulling cool and fresh air in).

The noise from the old 80mm fan was from both the fan itself, and from that causing it to shake and hit the case (several times a second). Right now, I've got the (quiet 120mm) fan held on by two Phillips screws going into the "netting" holes, and it is near silent.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2009, 08:37:38 PM »
Why not buy a new case and transfer all the hardware into it? You could get a really big tower case and then install the drives with plenty of space around them - that would allow heat to dissipate more easily - as it is you have a number of red hot drives stacked on top of each other and heading for meltdown.

Alternatively get one large drive and transfer the data so you are running a single drive instead of that block of drives.

Target

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #15 on: April 28, 2009, 08:40:32 PM »
geez, you're making us work for this aren't you...

Quote
The problem with the front fan setup though is that, if I were to cut the hole and put the fan 1/2 in 1/2 out, it would hit more resistance than it is now, because both hard drive slots would be partially blocking it (making it about 1/2 effective instead of the 3/4 or so it is now).

not sure that it works like this, but it's your call.  Personally I suspect that this would be less of a problem than putting the case front back on

Quote
The front won't work unless I had a smaller fan - I need something that will fit on top of/under the drives, to blow air on/over/along them. Front and side don't work, and if I went to the back of the drive cage (in relation to the front of the computer) it would have little/no cool air coming in (no fan pulling cool and fresh air in)

Is it safe to assume your not overly attached to the case or have no real aversion to cutting the thing up?

wreckedcarzz

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2009, 08:50:04 PM »
I have three other cases available from computer swaps/dead computers/etc, but they are all within -3 to +4 inches in relation to this one, and the drive cage configurations are no different (except for a Dell case, and that one is just ridiculous). I can't get a new case or drives because my mom is trying to save money, so I have to work with what I have on hand, and what I'll earn within the near future (that's why I'm looking for some type of reliable hard drive cooler that doesn't cost more than ~$50). <slightly sarcastic> I would love to get a nice Antec 1200 for it and switch it out, and have it idle as an air conditioner for my room, but that won't happen in the forgettable future :P </slightly sarcastic>

geez, you're making us work for this aren't you...

...

Is it safe to assume your not overly attached to the case or have no real aversion to cutting the thing up?

Yea, that was my plan all along. Work, work! >:D

Nah, the case looks like crap as-is (massive gashes on the right panel from screws/maintenance gone wrong, front isn't in great shape, and the left panel/door takes vice grips to open (seriously), and you have to hit it to get it snapped back into place.

I'm gonna put/bash the side door back on right now and see what happens...

Carol Haynes

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2009, 08:57:07 PM »
I have three other cases available from computer swaps/dead computers/etc, but they are all within -3 to +4 inches in relation to this one, and the drive cage configurations are no different

You could always put the drives in their own case so that don't compete with any other hot gear - should be room to spread them out then too. Just stand it next to the current case and feed the cables from one to the other.

With 3 spare cases lying around you could give each drive its own case :P

wreckedcarzz

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2009, 09:06:00 PM »
That isn't a bad idea! I'll have to mess with the space I have (and listen to my mom complain "Why is there another computer on the dresser?" :-[), but it would keep the heat down and isolated. I'll try that out in a bit.

Right now, the case is "normal" and closed, except for the front panel. Heat coming from the rear fans seems about normal (vs without side). I'll keep monitoring it and see what it does.

Target

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2009, 09:29:13 PM »
that's where I was headed - actually you wouldn't need the whole case - if you got 3 spare then gut 2 of the 'spare' PSU's and use those cases.  They could sit on top of the existing box so they won't take up much space

From memory they should be big enough and they already have fans mounted - check the voltage on the fans as they may be 110v (240v?) which will require some care when wiring them up

wreckedcarzz

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #20 on: April 28, 2009, 09:45:02 PM »
The cases are empty (two have the motherboards, but that is it) - I've salvaged everything possible that still works. I'll have to put it side by side though, as the IDE cable isn't long enough to stack (and that would be a disaster waiting to happen, making it a good 6 feet (2 meters) or so off the ground).

Target

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #21 on: April 28, 2009, 09:53:19 PM »
not the PC cases (that would be overkill), I was suggesting you use the PSU cases (like I said, from memory they should be about the right size)

mouser

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #22 on: April 28, 2009, 10:13:36 PM »
Links to a discussion of the google paper Gothi[c] mentioned, which seems like heavy and inconclusive reading:

wreckedcarzz

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #23 on: April 28, 2009, 10:18:06 PM »
not the PC cases (that would be overkill), I was suggesting you use the PSU cases (like I said, from memory they should be about the right size)

Ahh, I was thinking of using the whole case and linking a fan around (similar to what I have now, but less visible) for cooling. Not sure if I wanna dissemble working parts though... (from experience, as soon as you get rid of something you "don't need", you instantly need it again).

Target

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Re: Hard drive cooler: I need one (badly) - recommendations?
« Reply #24 on: April 28, 2009, 10:38:01 PM »
I suspect that using an empty case to house 2 drives won't actually be that effective (I think it would akin to using your case with the sides off...)

if don't want to sue the PSU cases and you're happy to be a bit creative there's no reason why you need a 'case' at all, you could quite easily use a cardboard box (I've seen cases made from lego, birdwire, milk crates, etc, at the end of the day all you need is a tube to suck (or blow) air through)