Fix: Prevent Hard Drives from Going to Sleep in Windows 10

Fix: Prevent Hard Drives from Going to Sleep in Windows 10

After recently upgrading my Plex Windows 10 machine, I had an issue where I couldn’t prevent hard drives from going to sleep on that system. After the system restarted, a few hours later I would get an email from Stablebit Scanner indicating that one or more of my drives were no longer connected.

With the exception of the system drive, all other drives connected to the system were USB-connected external hard drives. I couldn’t connect to the drives, and the lights on the drive casing indicated that they were in sleep mode.

I hadn’t experienced anything like this since I setup the system over one year ago. After some investigation I found out that there are actually several settings, in two locations, in Windows 10 that I needed to change in order to prevent the hard drives from going to sleep.

I detail the steps below.

Changing the power plan

The first setting I had to change was the USB suspend setting in the Windows 10 power options. This does require an administrator to change, but you will be prompted to enter the administrator password if you are logged in as a standard user.

  1. Click Start->Settings->System->Power & Sleep to display the options to change the power and sleep settings.
  2. Click the Additional power settings link under Related power settings. The Power Options window will appear.
  3. From this window, Click the Change plan settings link beside the power plan you wish to change.
  4. From the power plan window, click the Change settings that are currently unavailable link, and enter the administrator password when prompted.
  5. Click the Change advanced power settings link to display all the power options for the plan.
  6. From the power plan window, click the Change settings that are currently unavailable link, and enter the administrator password when prompted.
  7. Expand the USB settings and then the USB selective suspend setting option.
  8. Change the Setting value to Disabled.
  9. Power Options - USB Setting

    Disabling the suspend setting in the Power Options for Windows 10.

USB controller device settings

While I thought changing the USB suspend option would solve my problem, the USB-connected hard drives still were put to sleep by Windows 10. At this point, I decided that there must be another setting that caused this problem. After a bit more research online, I did find something that led me to the setting that solved the issue – disabling the ability for Windows 10 to turn off the device from the USB controller settings.

To make these changes, you can use the following steps:

  1. Click Start and then type computer management. When Computer Management appears in the search results, right-click it and then select Run as administrator.
  2. Enter the administrator password and click the Yes button to open the Computer Management window.
  3. In that window, click Device Manager to display a list of all the devices installed on your system, organized in various categories.
  4. From the list of categories on the right, click the Universal Serial Bus controllers category to display all the devices in that category.
  5. Right-click each item in the list, and the select Properties from the context menu that appears. A properties dialog will appear.
  6. If the properties windows contains a Power management tab, then click that tab. If it doesn’t, then close the window and repeat the previous step for the next device in the list.
  7. In the Power management tab, uncheck the Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power option.
  8. USB Hub Power Management Properties

    The USB Hub power management properties with turn off device option turned off.

  9. Click the OK button to save the changes.
  10. Repeat steps 5 to 8 for each device under the Universal Serial Bus controllers category.

With these two settings set to prevent hard drives from going to sleep in Window 10, you shouldn’t have an issue with any USB-connected hard drives from being disconnected.

16 Responses to “Fix: Prevent Hard Drives from Going to Sleep in Windows 10”

  1. JamesTagusLan says:

    I have the exact opposite problem. Now with Windows 10, my usb drives do not sleep after inactivity. I have all the options checked but they stay on all the time.

  2. Beaver says:

    Thank you for solving the issue, searched high and low on the internet and eventually found your solution. Finally though your diligence and research the problem is solved…10/10 from me as the other fixes led me on a merry dance, but I was on the right track just needed to find out why Windows 10 had this problem with external hard-drives and your expertise made it very easy. Thank you once again for the very welcome solution (Maybe someone should let Seagate know so people will understand its the OS settings and not hard-drive reformatting “problemo” 🙂

  3. Jimmy O. says:

    bro you are a genius seriously…

  4. Dylan Keyter says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! You are a good person to say the least 🙂

  5. Ben says:

    Worked for me. Windows 10. WD My Book drive now remains awake.

  6. Bob says:

    THANK YOU – had tried power modes and WD ext HDD management app – they always still dozed off!

  7. Jas O says:

    Like others have said, this doesn’t work. External USB drives will still go to sleep.

  8. Erick says:

    Thank You Thank You Thank You!

  9. Jay Blanchard says:

    THANK YOU! I’m still relatively new to Windows after being a “Mac Guy” for 15+ years, and this was an enormous help.

  10. Vince says:

    I’ve tried all of these suggestions as well as others and in Win10 my Rocstor 8TB external USB 3.0 drive goes to sleep after about 10 mins if not accessed. When I try to access it after that it’s non-responsive and Windows kinda locks up trying to figure it out. So frustrating!

    • pmshah says:

      I have identical problem and that also affects my secondary internal drive. I am going to try like a rolling batch file that will run a dir command redirected to nul and every drive, both internal and external are polled say every 5 – 7 minutes. Hopefully that should improve the performance.

    • jason says:

      did you ever get a solution?

  11. John says:

    This solution never worked. In windows 10 since 1.2018 and probably also before. You are out of topic. It seems to work. Looks nice. But usb HDD sleep again and again. On all PC and notebooks. Microsoft is always step forward.

  12. Susan says:

    Thanks so much for this. I had Lightroom crashing everytime my external drive with the catalog on it went to sleep. I never would have found these on my own.

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