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Green Hard Drives: Pros and Cons

Going green is a recent trend for hard drives. Companies like Western Digital and Seagate are two manufacturers that have released their own power efficient hard drives. Green drives are often marketed as being quiet, cool and less power consumptive than their standard counterparts. This usually means that the drives run at fewer rotations per minute, which in turn will cut a few watts off – apparently up to 40% reduced power. But is a green hard drive really worth it?
As mentioned previously, the biggest positives to a green hard drive are that it is quiet and cool. This is especially beneficial for electronics like personal video players or set top boxes. Equipment like this could see the need for a green hard drive. The last thing you want when watching a movie on your television is for a loud drive to be operating in the background. Also, the fact that a green drive doesn’t have as many rotations per minute as a standard drive isn’t a problem here. This is because things like set top boxes are quite low-demand and don’t need super high performance.
Another benefit to a green drive is that they are usually cheaper, but again this is due to the reduced performance. If you’re on a tight budget then a green drive may be for you. However, if you’re looking to cut the electricity bill then a green hard drive won’t do you much good. According to technology website Ars Technica, when they compared the Western Digital Caviar Green against the Caviar Black, the savings are marginal. Their green/standard drive consumes around 4.8/8.4 watts when writing or reading, 2.82/7.8 watts when idle and 0.38/1 watts when in sleep. Overall, this is a saving of 45 kilowatt-hours per year, which they worked out as a saving of $5.38. All that for a loss of 1800 RPM doesn’t seem worth it, frankly. Consider that a single energy saving light bulb could save you around $9.23 per year.
If you’re a home user then you’ll be forgiven for being unimpressed by a green drive. On a desktop computer you’ll find that other components use up more energy, like the processor or graphics card. If you’re a small business then you’ll probably not see a use for a green hard drive either. Certainly try and reduce your energy consumption, but there are better places to begin than with the hard drive. However, if you work in a large company where there are thousands of hard drives operating all at once then it might be worth considering going green. Although the savings are marginal when it is just a single green drive, when amounted up over lots of drives it could be worthwhile.
If you are looking for a drive with low power consumption then you should consider a solid state drive, which only consume up to three digits of milliwats (far less than a normal hard drive). This is because a solid state drive is flash media and they have no mechanical, moving parts, meaning there is less noise and heat.


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