“Green” Hard Disk Drives Part 2

In the previous blog, we looked at the issue of reduced power being a major component of what makes a hard drive ‘green.’   An additional factor that may further reduce power consumption is more intelligent scheduling of the various ‘idle’ and ‘sleep’ states included in the SATA specification.  Being able to reduce the power consumption of the drive during an idle time can help to make the drive more ‘green.’

With all these changes, you may wonder if a green drive would be suitable for actual use.  Manufacturers claim that ‘green’ drives are adequate for most, but not all, applications.  There may be uses for which green hard drives aren’t as well suited as standard drives – but for most users, a green drive will be a good match, and the user won’t even be able to detect a performance difference. For example, if a green drive’s primary uses will be for storing data or multimedia files, then playing them back on demand, a green drive should be more than adequate.

For all but the most data-intensive tasks, a green hard disk drive will probably be more than adequate.

‘Green’ manufacturing and recyclability

Low power consumption isn’t the only factor to be considered when considering whether or not a drive is ‘green.’  Factors such as the energy used to build the drive and the manufacturing process’s impact on the environment can also play a role.

Some HDD makers are making claims that their green drives are being built with a minimal impact on the environment.  This may be achieved through energy efficient manufacturing processes; a reduction in hazardous materials used in the manufacture of the drives, and/or smaller amounts of hazardous materials (such as halogens) being released into the environment during the manufacture of the drives.

If you visit the websites for these manufacturers – or even review their spec sheets that are available as part of the listings of some drive resellers (or even look at the boxes that the drives come in, if they’re offered as retail products), you may see a number of statements that confirm that certain chemicals are not used in the manufacture of these drives.  These drives may also bear identification that they comply with the  RoHS (Reduction of Hazardous Substances) Directive.  Additionally, drive manufacturers identify their ‘green’ drives with words that sound ‘green’—words like Green or Eco are often included in the drive names.

Additionally, the drives may be made with materials that are less harmful to the environment than those used for other drives.  And, further, a large percentage of the materials that ARE used in the drives are recyclable.  Being able to reuse the materials, rather than put them into the environment, is certainly a green advantage.

Mark Brownstein is a technology journalist and technology consultant who specializes in explaining and interpreting new technologies, and clarifying how to integrate these new products into current systems. He has been Editor-In-Chief at computer technology and networking publications, has held significant editorial positions at major technology magazines, and is a frequent contributor to various technology magazines. He has written seven books. He is Microsoft Certified, and spends much of his time testing hardware and software products, running his own networks, and learning the best ways to get computer systems running and to keep them running.

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