Seagate Momentus XT freezing/stuttering & workaround

Seagate’s hybrid HDD the Momentus XT, which claims to be the world’s fastest 2.5″ consumer hard disk has been hit with users frustrated over a combination of lagging, freezing and beeping, mostly caused by the drive’s aggressive Advanced Power Management (APM.)

The drive’s Advanced Power Management feature automatically spins down the drive during idle periods to reduce power consumption and increase its mechanical lifespan.  This also allows read options take to place from the SSD area, where frequently read data is stored.  However, with how aggressive its APM is at keeping the splatters spun down, it is causing a lot of frustration with its users.

To give an idea how often it spins up/down, one MacBook owner noticed that the SMART data on the drive recorded 65,535 spin-down cycles.  As 65,535 is the limit of a 16 bit number, it is quite likely the actual number is much higher and certainly a lot more than what the average hard disk would experience in its whole life.

Seagate has so far released newer firmware, but while it has helped, it still has not fixed the mysterious slowdowns and lagging for some users.  As the main wear on a drive typically occurs when being spun up, obviously some users are concerned over the number of times the drive spins up & down.

For desktop usage, I would imagine that simply having the drive spinning non-stop would be the best workaround, since 2.5″ drives use so little power anyway.  For example, create a utility that runs in the background that writes a small amount of data to a file every couple of seconds and this will keep the drive spinning.  As the SSD part is only used for caching frequent read operations, this endless data stream should have no effect on the SSD area or even the drive’s performance.