Allow me to be the first to point out that my sleeping disk drive problem isn’t a problem that every Mac user has. If you don’t have a problem with disk drives going to sleep when you don’t want them to, and there are many who do not, fine. Move along; there’s nothing to see here. But if you’re using a Mac app and click the Open menu and have to wait 10 to 20-seconds for a sleeping disk drive to spin up, here’s the solution.
First, the problem. My Mac is home to a number of external disk drives connected to my Mac via USB. There’s Time Machine, a couple of disks that are clones of my Mac, and a couple of disks where I store backup files. Some of the disk drives are from different manufacturers, and most spin down into sleep mode at the worst possible time. So, opening up an Open… dialog box requires the disk drives to spin back up and that takes time and reduces my patience.
Next, the solution. Actually, it’s a simple, elegant, remarkably useful Mac utility that just works. It’s called Disksomnia. It runs in the background (but is accessible from the Mac’s Menubar) and every x-number of seconds or minutes (you get to choose in Preferences) Disksomnia writes a little text file to the external disk drive of your choice, thereby keeping the disk drive alive, awake, ready to be viewed when you click an Open… menu.
Here’s what Disksomnia looks like in the Menubar.
How simple is that?
Click the On button to activate Disksomnia. Then, click the Preferences to setup Disksomnia. You can tell it’s working because the icon in the Menubar is solid (not greyed out), and the timer counts down when the next text file copy function begins.
Disksomnia works with external disk drives connected to you Mac, and effectively fixes those that refuse to honor Energy Save preferences. Any Mac user with files on multiple disk drives will understand the Open… dialog box and wait routine.
Preferences are nominal, simple, and mostly– but not quite– self explanatory.
Disksomnia writes a small text file to each external disk drive every x-number of seconds (up to 999, but I left my setting at 55-seconds) to keep that disk drive spinning. The plus sign lets you select which hard disk drives to enable, and it can be set to work only when specific applications are running.
So, every 55 seconds Disksomnia writes a small text file to the selected disk drives, which prevents them from spinning down and going to sleep, which prevents the need to wait for a disk drive to spin up when opening the Open… menu in an app.
The only problem I ran into had to do with permissions on specific external disks which would not show up in the Disksomnia selected disk section (left sidebar). A quick email to the developer got a response the same day with a solution– change the permissions of the disk drives that could not be selected.
All I needed to do was to select the disk drive in the Finder, do a Get Info, and select the Ignore Ownership on this Volume at the bottom of the settings. That was it.
Disksomnia is a bit more expensive than I would have preferred but it stopped a longstanding and very annoying problem– waiting for sleeping external disk drives to spin up so I can save or open a file.
What gets written to the text file? A bit of an homage to The Bee Gees, circa 1978.
Ah ha ha ha, stayin’ awake, stayin’ awake