Secondary Harddrive Sleep Problems in Vista

When I recently bought a new pc from dell I was unwilling to pay them twice the price of a second harddrive just for the convenience of having them put it in. Installing harddrives is easy. I had already paid twice the price for extra RAM. Even though that's even easier to install I didn't want to do the parity and RAM type dance. I had enough to do moving all my files. Since new pcs use serial ata cables I couldn't swap my old IDE cable personal data harddrive into the new pc. Thank goodness for external harddrives. Because somewhere along the line I lost my usb to usb transfer cable.

Anyway after I got everything all good on the new pc. I went to amazon and bought a decent sized sata harddrive for the new computer. It was a cinch to install in the existing secondary drive bay. Go into windows drive config, format, wait a bit and bang... second drive at half the price.

Everything was fine until windows chided me to do some updates yet again. All of a sudden my poor 2nd drive was totally schitzophrenic. It would go on and off all kinds of crazy even though harddrive were supposed to go off only after 35 minutes of inactivity.

I struggled for a long time with this. Vista sporadically shutting down and spinning up my 2nd harddrive. I never wanted vista. I didn't really have a choice though. Unless I wanted to pay $170 for dell to give me xp on my new computer. Um... No. I will figure it out. I will make it work for me.

My initial emergency fix for the drive was simply to play songs from that drive via media player. The drive being in constant use could not be shut off or on by windows.

I scoured google for answers. An intel fix suggested to delete the entire parameters folder inside the registry key located at hkey_local_machine\system\currentcontrolset\services\istorv

i first exported the entire key by right clicking, selecting export and choosing a place and name to save it by. I then deleted the parameter folder and by proxy all reg entries within it. I rebooted and waited. Listening carefully for the sound of the harddrive cycling on or off.

While this fix did increase the time between cycles it did not fix the problem. It did make it possible to set harddrives off to never in advanced power setting and actually have it behave that way. Where prior to this that setting was completely useless.

I then read that someone else with a similar issue had gone into hkey_local_machine\system\currentcontrolset\service\istor\parameter and altered the values for lpmdstate and lpm from 1 to 0.

Exported the entry again and then edtitted the existing. Rebooted. Waited. Longer time between cycles, but still nonsensical and annoying.

Then made up my own solution. Just a guess. deleted the whole istorv parameter folder just as I had done for istor without the v. Saving a copy first. Rinse. repeat. Still not clean. Actually this seemed to send the problem back to its worst state. Constant on and off only on second harddrive.

During all my searching I read some things about certain harddrives behave this way on vista. Something about their firmwave. Something else about a bug in a few vista updates that treat secondary harddrives as if they are laptop drive even though they are in desktops. But these were ancient updates now bundled in service pack. Not undoable at this stage of the game.

Went to western digital. No firmware updates for this drive. No firmware updates for most of their drives.

Went to dell. Clicked support. Was already logged in. They had my machine info stored in there. Looked for update downloads. Found one for my Dimension 435MT that related to the Intel chipset on the motherboard. Downloaded. Debated for a while whether to try installing. Didn't want to make things worse. Sometimes driver updates only exacerbate the problem. Though often they do fix it. Vista just had me all paranoid really.

Finally decided - fuck it. Installed the new driver.

Rebooted. Listened. Waited.

Yay! Normal harddrive function on the secondary drive. Obeying windows sleep settings.

I win!

Now if only I could figure out how to make my main monitor display the boot screen (instead of my secondary tv monitor) I'd be all set.

Oh well. I still won. And vista is back to being my bitch. Sorta.