When my external drives are mounted and idle on a Macbook Pro, they run hot. Why? I do not have the same experience with NTFS volumes on my Windows box, where's the difference in idle disk usage?

No... time machine is not running on these drives.

External HFS+ Drives I use:

  • Seagate 3.5" 7200rpm in Seagate USB enclosure
  • WD Green 3.5" 7200rpm in rosewill USB dock
  • WD Black 2.5" 7200rpm in rosewill USB dock
  • Seagate 2.5" 7200rpm in macally firewire 800
  • Just to play DA, I routinely connect a Seagate GoFlex to my Air specifically for Time Machine use and it never gets hot. Most of the time it's not even lit up.
    – zigg
    Aug 2, 2013 at 12:03

1 Answer 1


It's simple. Heat comes from the drive motors spinning - so more heat implies more time spinning. (And since these drives spin at constant rates - it's more the duty cycle that the motors are on, then how the motors are being controlled that affects heat generation.)

I will assume you have selected "Put hard disk(s) to sleep when possible." in energy saver since that needs to be checked for Mac OS X to tell the drives they are no longer needed. When they are idled the heat generation is less.

If you asked to idle the drives by selecting the choice above, then you need to find what process is polling the drives which keeps them in a non-idle status. The fs_usage command would be a great place to start to monitor what writes/reads are happening.

Once you know what processes are responsible, you have a chance to change things.

Alternatively, you can use Disk Utility to unmount the drives. They should sleep well but at the cost of not being mounted.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .