I am using 12.04. Would my laptop battery last longer if I copy my .mp3 files to a USB memory stick, then play them from there rather than from the HDD? Thanks, Dennis
closed as not a real question by Uri Herrera, jokerdino♦, RobotHumans, Amith KK, ajmitch Aug 19 '12 at 21:48
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This could potentially drain the battery slower if it results in the hard disk being spun down, and staying spun down more often.
Compared to the amount of power it takes to run even a laptop hard drive's motor, it seems unlikely that the difference in power consumption between SATA and USB is significant. So I think the idea that accessing data via USB will drain the battery faster is probably not relevant to your situation.
However, this could only potentially help if you're not using your computer for other things at the same time. If you are using your computer for other tasks, then the internal hard drive will probably be accessed frequently anyway. Then it won't be able to spin down, or at least won't stay spun down very long.
Even if putting your audio files on a USB flash drive does decrease your power consumption, my guess is that it wouldn't be by very much, and the hassle would likely make it not worthwhile.
If you're asking about whether a USB flash drive or an external USB magnetic (i.e., traditional) storage drive (that gets power from the computer via USB) will drain the battery faster, then in this case, the external magnetic drive will certainly consume more power than the flash drive.
Ultimately, your pattern of use and your hardware creates a set of circumstances that might be sufficiently unique to require that you do the testing yourself, to see how fast the battery is drained.
Finally, please note that you may get better, more detailed answers if you ask about this on a hardware forum. Ubuntu and other OSes do (potentially) spin drives down under slightly different circumstances, so you might see Ubuntu-specific behavior here...but all modern general-purpose OSes will spin down laptop hard drives when not in use, so this question is mostly about hardware.