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How to Caffeinate Seagate's Sleepy Little Drives


By steve - Posted on 12 January 2011

I've been using Seagate's small 1.5TB USB 3.0 external drives for backups lately. I stopped using tapes for new systems a couple years ago, but my client's capacity needs have kept me recommending externally powered 3.5" high capacity drives, except for smaller servers, which could handle backing up on unpowered (or rather, powered through USB) 2.5" USB 2.0 external drives. These new drives from Seagate give me the small size, large capacity, and internal power capabilities that I've been looking for (can't wait for the 15TB version to come out a a few years :-).

I've used USB 2.0, eSata, and firewire interfaces with best compatiblity results coming from using the slower USB 2.0. The other interfaces worked for awhile, but something would happen and I'd go back to good old USB 2.0.

These new drives use 3.0, but I don't. I haven't had any problems with 2.0 compatibility.

Overall, this strategy has worked well and the cost of high capacity portable external disk drives has really come down. Down to about $.10 per gigabyte!

I've only found one problem with these drives and that is that they usually come decaffeinated! They come by default with power saving sleep modes enabled and set to 5 minutes. Some servers and operating systems will wait patiently for them to come out of a sleep, but others won't. In fact, I've had systems crash when they attempt to access a formerly working drive that has gone to sleep.

This is a ginormous problem because the thing we are doing to save our data is actually crashing our system!

So, here's what I did...

The drives I'm using, the 1.5TB Seagates that I mentioned, can be manipulated and the sleep mode adjusted or disabled.

The software on the drive itself was no help, so I searched around www.Seagate.com to find what I wanted, but couldn't seem to find it.

Finally, I found it here

I downloaded the zip file called FreeAgentCN.ZIP, unzipped it, then installed it.

If you need to run it, there's an icon for "Seagate Manager" on your desktop.

Hook up the drive and:

  1. When I started the program up, it saw my drive and I select it (if there are more than one).
  2. Click the settings button at the bottom of the window (next the to Drive Info button).
  3. Click the "Adjust Power Setting" link.
  4. Select the "never" option to disable the sleep mode.
  5. Click Apply.
  6. Click OK.

You're done! Remove the drive and repeat these steps for each drive.

You can uninstall the software after that, if you like. I leave it on, in case I need to do more drives.

Overall, I've been very happy with the new drives. They can be swapped over to firewire by replacing the little snap on brains that connect the cable to the drive. I'd like them a little better, if the connection to the drive was stickier than the connection to the cable (the interface gets pulled off when you remove the cable, if you don't keep it pressed to the drive with your other hand), but other than that, I've been very pleased with these sleeply little drives.

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