The new Mac Pro is designed to have the majority of its storage running externally. With its 6 thunderbolt ports and 4 USB ports there is no shortage of places to plug it all in.
Currently I have 2 USB devices connected; one a Drobo to backup data and the other a simple USB box that presents the 4 disks to OS X as individual disks (JBOD).
The problem with USB disks like this is that they will spin down when they are not in use. So when you begin to access data on that disk again you have to wait for it to spin up, very annoying! It makes you’re new Mac Pro powerhouse sit idle for 5 – 10 seconds waiting for the storage to become available.
In my setup, we also use the Pro as a file server on the local network – meaning that this problem was also felt by other users waiting to access the data on shared drives.
There is an option in the System Settings “Put hard disks to sleep when possible” – it’s found under Energy Saver and looks like it would fix this problem but it does not work on external disks.
The solution is pretty simple.
All that’s required is to regularly (read constantly…) access the disks so they do not sit idle.
If you’re a master of bash you could write a simple script that touches a file on each of the external drives, that’s all you need to keep them awake. Being a little lazy I went looking for a pre-rolled solution and found a small utility Keep Drives Spinning.
It’s a free tool an does just what it says. It provides a simple interface where you choose which of the external disks that you’d like to keep awake. Once you’ve done the setup, there is nothing else to do – it just keeps on keeping on!
The result is that your Mac Pro is consistently responsive, in my case after putting up with it for a month the machine feels faster as there is no more waiting around for the external storage.