Computer power efficiency question. Does this technical solution exist?
June 23, 2015 7:48 AM   Subscribe

I have, over time, acquired a handful of external USB hard drives. Terabytes full of stuff... The problem being, I don't really want to pay to have them on all the time, if I don't need them. It occurs to me it would be nice to have a simple, elegant way of having your computer keep an index, of sorts, of what you store on your external devices, even if those devices aren't powered up... and then having it either power the device up, or prompt you to do so, in order to access the files you need. Is there a Windows-friendly solution for something like this?
posted by markkraft to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: A lot of the easiest ways of doing this depend on what you're storing. If it's videos, for instance, Kodi (nee XBMC) handles this use case swimmingly.
posted by fifthrider at 7:56 AM on June 23, 2015

FWIW with most modern OS and most modernish disks the disks will be dropped into power saving mode (nearly shut down) when they aren't being accessed. That's not as low power as being shut down entirely, but it should be fairly low.
posted by wotsac at 10:09 AM on June 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

There used to be a use case for a program that would create an index of files that were stored/backed up across multiple CDs. You might find that one of those programs can be adapted to suit your needs. (Or you might find that they all are 10 years old and don't work anymore, I suppose).

Using keywords like Offline, Index, and CD turns up a few freeware programs, with various levels of sketchiness.
posted by yuwtze at 10:38 AM on June 23, 2015

Best answer: git-annex will do what you want, although for your use case I think you'll have to do some stuff through the command-line. There is a Windows version in beta; I haven't tried it.
posted by jordemort at 10:40 AM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Well, sounds like at least the video side of this is sorted out. I will pay attention to Windows development for git-annex, though.

Power saving mode is better than nothing, but external drives are rated as costing about a dollar a month in energy usage, with average use... and I am not an average user. Collect a half-dozen of these drives, and that can cost you over time.

Lately, I have kept them off unless I know I need them, and it I find that the savings are a bit over a dollar a month, but that could be because I am already exceeding the energy usage quota for an apartment like mine, and the power company charges me at a higher rate.
posted by markkraft at 4:25 AM on June 24, 2015

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