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Extremely HOT hard drives! RRS feed

  • Question

  • I have been running WHS since the beta program over a year ago.  My WHS box currently has 5 hard drives, 2xIDE plus 3xSATA  for total storage of around 2TB and the box seems to constantly be balancing.  One result of this is that the hard drives are extremely hot at all times.  By hot I mean that it is too hot to keep your finger on the rear of the drive.

     

    This is despite the fact that the PC case is always left open so that the ambient temperature is about room temperature and there are no airflow restrictions.  The PC is a Dell Dimension that opens like a clam shell.  This leads me to ask a few questions:

     

    Should my WHS box be constantly balancing, even though I rarely adds files to it?

    Will this high heat be very bad for my hard drives?  (I haven't had any HD failures - once or twice I had to run chkdsk which fixed problems on a hard drive)

     

    I have seen the same balancing behaviour pretty much consistently with WHS including the last couple of beta versions before I bought the OEM version last fall - have others seen this as well?

    Monday, May 5, 2008 7:04 PM

Answers

  • You da man ZerosandOnes! (Assuming you're a man).  I placed a 120mm fan hanging from the top of the case, while it is still open, to blow on the hard drives and the temps have dropped to 35-44C.  So perhaps a new case with hard drive ventilation is in order- perhaps an Antec Solo which has two optional intake drive locations right in front of the hard drive cage.

     

    Wednesday, May 7, 2008 2:58 AM

All replies

  • You should download Windows Home Server Disk Management v1.0.7.3
    It will show the temperature of the hard drives. You can then check with the manufacturers for the operating limit for the drives.
    In addition, most cases perform better when they are closed. If you need to keep the case open all the time you should consider buying another case, or put in a couple of extra fans.
    Monday, May 5, 2008 9:13 PM
  • Thanks I will check that out.  I have kept the case open mainly because I have often been adding and removing drives in the past and the system is located in a work room in the basement so noise and appearances do not matter. 

     

    I don't know that I agree that keeping the case closed is better in most instances unless there are fans specifically routed to provide airflow over the hard drives, something like an Antec P182 with lots of room for optional fans.  My WHS system is a Dell Optiplex GX260 which, if I remember correctly, only has one case fan which has a green duct to direct airflow to the CPU heat sink.  There is no fan on the CPU heat sink. The case does not have additional spots for optional fans unless you modify it.  Closing the case would lead to a confined chamber with no specific cooling for the hard drives so I am betting that this will increase the temps - I will download the disk management program and check it out with the case open and closed.

    Monday, May 5, 2008 9:39 PM
  • Yeah you are probably right about that case. I used to have a Dell 8300 with a similar type of case and ducting, it used to get fairly warm.
    Monday, May 5, 2008 10:04 PM
  • That's the case - I also have an old Dell 8300 and it is exactly the same case as the Optiplex.

     

    Well I ran the Disk Managment utility and my drive temperatures are 51C on my sys drive and 51,57,59,68 and 70C on my data drives.   These data drives seem very hot, don't they?

     

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008 3:13 AM
  • Yes, at least two of those drives are certainly out of spec. I would get a case with better ventilation, especially one with active ventilation for the hard drives.
    Tuesday, May 6, 2008 4:13 AM
    Moderator
  • Are the really hot disks originally from a commercial rack-mounted server?

     

    I've noticed that consumer disks run quite a lot cooler than older generation server disks (which are designed to be mounted in a case with massive airflow in an air-conditioned room).

     

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008 6:35 AM
    Moderator
  • No these are typical retail disks - two of them are WD500AAKS and there is also a 500 GB Maxtor - the two hottest are one of the WDs and the Maxtor.  Then there are two 320GB Seagates which are running cooler <60C.

     

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008 1:44 PM
  • Temperatures above 55C will affect the long term reliability of most hard drives.
    I think it's time for a new case.
    Tuesday, May 6, 2008 3:29 PM
  • Having once built client PCs and Servers for a living, I'll shed my two cents on the subject..

     

    It's long been my experience that most desktop PC cases are extremely crowded when it came to internal 3.5" drive bays. Placing two or more HDDs in those resulted in very little 'breathing' room for the drives, increasing heat which tended to build on each other. If it was two drives, you could skip a bay (typically three 3.5" internal bays) and it wasn't a problem. But with three or more internal drives, one had to use 5.25" brackets to mount the HDDs in the 5.25" bays.

     

    Really, the solution (for me at least) is to use the mobile racks sold by Kingwin for SATA drives. They have active-cooling, are aluminum (good head absorber), support hot-swap capability, and are shock absorbed.  And of course, it's convenient to be able to replace your drives on your WHS box without cracking open the case.

     

     

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008 5:51 PM
  •  ZerosandOnes wrote:
    Temperatures above 55C will affect the long term reliability of most hard drives.
    I think it's time for a new case.
    I don't mind buying a new case but I don't think that is the issue.  The drives appear to be always balancing and running 24x7.  Sure the drives are packed fairly close together but that will pretty much always be the case when you have 6 drives in a system.  In the short term what I will do is put a fan to blow onto the drives with the case open and see if that changes things - I have some extra PC fans and I could even just use a basic room fan.

     

    But - Should the drives be balancing 24x7?  I haven't added anything to the shared volumes in days - every night there are 4 PCs that backup but this shouldn't need balancing.  The system has been in place for several months with only slight additions to files in the shared voumes so there is almost no need to rebalance.

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008 9:55 PM
  • You da man ZerosandOnes! (Assuming you're a man).  I placed a 120mm fan hanging from the top of the case, while it is still open, to blow on the hard drives and the temps have dropped to 35-44C.  So perhaps a new case with hard drive ventilation is in order- perhaps an Antec Solo which has two optional intake drive locations right in front of the hard drive cage.

     

    Wednesday, May 7, 2008 2:58 AM
  • Glad to help. Active cooling for hard drives is a necessity though I have to say that since the two hottest (68C and 70C) drives have been operating outside tolerance for an unknown amount of time I would consider them suspect and they should be swapped out of the server. If both of those drives fail at the same time you may lose data. I'm not saying throw them away, you could put them in one of your desktops. If they fail you can restore the desktop easier than the server.

    The main problem is that excessive heat tends to affect the logic board and the motor of the drive rather than the read/write ability of it. So what that means is the drives will probably work ok until there is a failure of the motor.( I had a few hard drives which passed SMART tests right up to the moment that the motors failed) All hard drives fail eventually it just that those two drives will probably fail earlier than the others.

    Regarding the Antec Solo midi tower, it looks ok but I tend to go for big towers, they are just easier to keep cool. If you think that you will never have more than seven hard drives then ok. Whizard72 advice is valid:

    >
    Really, the solution (for me at least) is to use the mobile racks sold by Kingwin for SATA drives. They have active-cooling, are aluminum (good head absorber), support hot-swap capability, and are shock absorbed.  And of course, it's convenient to be able to replace your drives on your WHS box without cracking open the case.

     
    I just use cages with fans on them but it works for me.


    Wednesday, May 7, 2008 4:30 PM
  • Cooler Master makes a tower case that is cooled by a 120mm fan (moves more air and is quieter than standard 90mm fans) and has 5 5.25" drive bays making it easier to install drives in the fashion I described and still keep cool enough.

     

    The racks are good because when I eventually have to replace my drive(s), I only have to yank out the carrier, replace the drive and replace the carrier in the server and add the drive to the pool. With hot-swap, I don't even have to power off.

     

     ZerosandOnes wrote:
    Glad to help. Active cooling for hard drives is a necessity though I have to say that since the two hottest (68C and 70C) drives have been operating outside tolerance for an unknown amount of time I would consider them suspect and they should be swapped out of the server. If both of those drives fail at the same time you may lose data. I'm not saying throw them away, you could put them in one of your desktops. If they fail you can restore the desktop easier than the server.

    The main problem is that excessive heat tends to affect the logic board and the motor of the drive rather than the read/write ability of it. So what that means is the drives will probably work ok until there is a failure of the motor.( I had a few hard drives which passed SMART tests right up to the moment that the motors failed) All hard drives fail eventually it just that those two drives will probably fail earlier than the others.

    Regarding the Antec Solo midi tower, it looks ok but I tend to go for big towers, they are just easier to keep cool. If you think that you will never have more than seven hard drives then ok. Whizard72 advice is valid:

    >
    Really, the solution (for me at least) is to use the mobile racks sold by Kingwin for SATA drives. They have active-cooling, are aluminum (good head absorber), support hot-swap capability, and are shock absorbed.  And of course, it's convenient to be able to replace your drives on your WHS box without cracking open the case.

     
    I just use cages with fans on them but it works for me.


    Wednesday, May 7, 2008 9:48 PM
  • Regarding balancing 24x7, are teh drives having a lot of activity, can you hear them moving data around or does the console simple say 'balancing' all the time. In the latter case, reboot the server and that'll go away. I've seen this happen before.

     

     wayner9 wrote:

     ZerosandOnes wrote:
    Temperatures above 55C will affect the long term reliability of most hard drives.
    I think it's time for a new case.
    I don't mind buying a new case but I don't think that is the issue.  The drives appear to be always balancing and running 24x7.  Sure the drives are packed fairly close together but that will pretty much always be the case when you have 6 drives in a system.  In the short term what I will do is put a fan to blow onto the drives with the case open and see if that changes things - I have some extra PC fans and I could even just use a basic room fan.

     

    But - Should the drives be balancing 24x7?  I haven't added anything to the shared volumes in days - every night there are 4 PCs that backup but this shouldn't need balancing.  The system has been in place for several months with only slight additions to files in the shared voumes so there is almost no need to rebalance.

    Wednesday, May 7, 2008 10:09 PM
  • Wayner,

    I have a Supermicro TQ 733 case, this case is designed for servers and has a fan shroud located at the front that directs the air flow right at the drives. I can tell you I have temps on drv 1 29c which is the OS drive and drv 2 26c. The case is not cheep, but worth it. It keeps everthing cool including the Zeon Quad Proc. I say if your going to build somthing?(especially when you are using it as a back up to protect your data) don't skimp on anything.

    Mark G.

     

    Wednesday, May 7, 2008 11:08 PM
  • Antec has a new case that looks pretty good for WHS - it is called the Three Hundred. It has a 140mm fan on top, a 120mm exhaust fan at the rear and room for two 120mm fans to blow over the hard drives.  The front part of the case is a mesh that allows air to flow through.  It sells for about $60 in Canada - without a PS.  The case is kind of a smaller version of the Antec Nine hundred.

     

    Thanks for all the advice here folks.  I think what I will do is buy a whole new hardware setup shortly - I am just waiting for the E3000 line of processors come out.  Speed wise it is overkill but these don't use much power and run cool so they should work well.

     

    Any recommendations on what mobo to use that has at least 6 SATA ports?

     

    Friday, May 9, 2008 1:00 AM
  •  wayner9 wrote:

     

    Any recommendations on what mobo to use that has at least 6 SATA ports?

     

     

    Plenty in fact

    Rather than give names check out any of the online vendors for example. www.newegg.com

     

    Seth

     

    Friday, May 9, 2008 2:06 AM
  •  wayner9 wrote:

    Antec has a new case that looks pretty good for WHS - it is called the Three Hundred. It has a 140mm fan on top, a 120mm exhaust fan at the rear and room for two 120mm fans to blow over the hard drives.  The front part of the case is a mesh that allows air to flow through.  It sells for about $60 in Canada - without a PS.  The case is kind of a smaller version of the Antec Nine hundred.

    very similar design and size.  I have Antec Nine Hundred case with 3 front fans blowing onto 9 drives, and all drives are operating between 29C and 39C.  Either case would be a good choice if heat build up is your concern.
    Friday, May 9, 2008 3:00 AM
  •  Setho wrote:
     wayner9 wrote:

     

    Any recommendations on what mobo to use that has at least 6 SATA ports?

     

     

    Plenty in fact

    Rather than give names check out any of the online vendors for example. www.newegg.com

    Seth

    I am aware of online shopping sites but I don't know how you filter Newegg (or similar sites) to just show motherboards with 6 or greater SATA ports - hence the reason for my question as it saves having to click into a web page and check out the specs for each of the dozens of mobos that they sell - very few of which have more than 4 SATA ports and many of those that do have lots of other bells and whistles that are unnecessary on a system that will be running WHS.

     

    What we really need for an ideal mobo for WHS is lots of SATA ports - ideally 8, a couple of eSATA ports, USB, firewire and that's about it.  You might want very rudimentary onboard video and sound.  This could likely even be a board with a microATX form factor.

    Friday, May 9, 2008 8:29 PM
  • wayner9

     

     wayner9 wrote:
    I am aware of online shopping sites but I don't know how you filter Newegg (or similar sites) to just show motherboards with 6 or greater SATA ports

     

    On the newegg site, let us assume you have decided to buy an Intel based motherboard.

     

    You select motherboards from the drop down component list, then select Intel motherboards.  At the left edge of the screen there will be four buttons, you will then select the advanced or power buttons at which time there will be a list of the different features you want, on that list is the number of onboard SATA ports.

     

    You will see a page like this search result

     

    Good luck

     

    Seth

     

    Saturday, May 10, 2008 3:19 AM