Green Hard Drives: Hype or Hope for Low Power Consumption Data Storage?

If you’ve been shopping for hard drives lately, you’ve likely noticed a trend toward “green” hard drives, such as the Western Digital Caviar Green drive and the Seagate Barracuda Green drive. The marketing angle behind these green hard disk drives is that they consume less power, both when idle and when reading or writing. In this way, they are a bit like the compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb of the computing world. But will swapping out your conventional hard drives for “green” hard drives significantly cut your electricity bill?

According to Ars Technica, the answer is: not really. Casey Johnston, writing for Ask Ars, broke it down by the numbers with a comparison of the Western Digital Caviar Green to the Western Digital Caviar Black. The WD Caviar Green consumes about 4.8 watts when writing or reading, 2.82 watts when idle and 0.38 watts in sleep or standby mode. The WD Caviar Black (the non-green counterpart) consumes an average of 8.4 watts when writing or reading, 7.8 watts when idle and 1 watt during standby or sleep mode. While the green drive cuts the wattage by 61.5%, that only saves you about 45 kilowatt-hours per year (assuming your drive is actively reading/writing 4 hours a day and is idle 20 hours per day). That’s not much compared to switching from a 100-watt candescent bulb to a 15-watt fluorescent bulb—which saves about 186 kilowatt-hours per year, assuming you use it for 6 hours a day. Multiply that by the number of light bulbs you have in your home or office versus the number of drives, and the relative wattage savings is even less.

That’s not to say that the greener technology isn’t completely insignificant. But it should highlight the fact that there are other ways to go green that will have a bigger impact. As with everything in your home and office—from printer paper to plastic bottles and aluminum cans—you should consider the entire lifecycle of your computer components and its impact on the environment. This means choosing products that are produced and manufactured sustainably, operate efficiently and can be disposed of in an environmentally safe way. At Go Southern California Mobile Shredding, we accept white and mixed paper, as well as office e-waste, including hard drives. We securely shred your hard drives on-site and dispose of them responsibly.

Call Southern California Mobile Shredding to find out how you can begin disposing of your hard drives sustainably.

Footnote: The Ars Technica piece that examined green hard disk drives pointed out that solid state drives (SSDs) consume less power than hard disk drives by “one or two orders of magnitude.” However, Toms Hardware’s benchmarks found that SSDs in laptops actually deplete batteries faster than HDDs. P.S. we can shred SSDs too!