I own a desktop hard drive, Seagate FreeAgent 500 GB and I also recently purchased a 1 TB Western Digital Elements portable hard drive, both of which I use to store movies, music, tv shows, and other stuff that I download from the internet or collect from friends.
The problem arises when you want to listen to music or watch a movie directly from the hard drive. Most such external hard drives have a built-in power saving feature, which causes them to spin down after a while of inactivity. What happens when you are watching a movie or listening to music is that the player reads a somewhat large chunk of data from the hard drive, stores it in the buffer, plays from it, and when that chunk of data is played, it queries the disk again for the next chunk. In between this period, the disk is marked as unused, and it therefore spins down to save power.
While this may sound like a nice feature that helps you save power, it is actually irritating because it leads to hiccups and jumps in music and video files, sometimes to a point where it becomes unwatchable.
A few quick searches on Google will reveal that there is no straightforward solution to this problem. You may write small scripts and schedule them to keep running in the background or run after every X minutes or so, to keep your drive active and spinning.
No Spin is an app for Mac OS X that automates this process, thereby saving you the hassle of writing scripts and scheduling them.
All you need to do is add the path to the drive/volume you want to keep active, and the interval after which you want to requery it so as to prevent it from spinning down. No Spin takes care of the rest. You can also configure it to keep running in the background and start on system launch automatically.
I faced a few hiccups while using No Spin with both my hard drives simultaneously, which was after I removed one of the drives, No Spin kept prompting me for the admin username and password.
Other than this small glitch, No Spin works flawlessly. Its one of those nifty apps that you can’t live without once you find out about them.
I found No Spin to be rather steeply priced at $9.99, because it really is a very small app. It comes with a 15 day trial, and I would purchase the full version if only it were a little cheaper.