I just got Bionic Beaver on a USB stick to see if my old single core 750M RAM system could support it and so far quite happy. Now I'm trying to make a new USB stick using the updated code on the current one. This will involve a lot of "fdisk" and "dd" and does not need the hard drive so I would like to power it off for safety- it will be hard to recreate by Debian install from circa 2011. The closest question that came up was this,

Hard drive doesn't go to sleep when is not in use

But I am not even using the disk and do not want hibernate. I guess I could open the case and pull the power to the HDD but that seems pretty extreme.

Also it looks like Beaver is lumping all these things into /dev/sdx and I'm used to Debian putting the HD on /dev/hdx so a typo could easily get by.

Is there some command or low level thing I can do to stop it from spinning?


  • Please tell us more details, what you want to do. Maybe I or someone else can suggest a tool, that will make the operations safer, even if you cannot easily shut down or unplug your internal drive. – sudodus Jan 17 at 19:48
  • 1
    Thanks. My immediate interest is simply booting from one USB stick and using that live stick to make a new bootable USB stick but the current one works well enough that I expect to run Beaver from it for a while. So, it would be nice for many reasons to just power down the hard drive although unplugging it is certainly a viable option. I just went ahead and fdisk'ed the new flash drive and it looks like partitioned ok and the HDD still boots ok :) Can't elaborate much more with len limit here but I ended up needing to hack instead of using obsolete startup disk creator before but maybe ok now. – mike marchywka Jan 18 at 10:18
  • So you want to shut down the internal drive not only while creating a second USB drive, but also during a long time, because you intend to run your computer from an external drive. In this case I think it is a good solution to just power down the hard drive. -- See more details in the edited answer. – sudodus Jan 18 at 11:35

You have already mentioned the most low level method - unplug the drive, or at least the power and/or data connection. This is straight-forward, and you can be sure that it will work :-)

In many (but not all) computers, you can disable a drive in BIOS/UEFI menu system at boot. It is worth checking if this option is available in your computer.

Depending on what you want to do, you may find a tool which helps you identify the drives and select target and perform the operations. There should also be a final checkpoint. These features will make your potentially risky operations safer.

But in any case, it is very important to check which drives are connected, and which device letter corresponds to each of the drives, to avoid writing to the wrong drive.

I would recommend the following commands

df -h
sudo lsblk -f
sudo lsblk -m
sudo parted -ls

maybe also

sudo fdisk -lu
sudo blkid

and if you want a graphical tool gparted from the menu or

sudo -H gparted


  • According to your comment, I think it is a good solution to just power down the hard drive by unplugging it or unplug the power and/or data cables.

  • Later on,

  • Thanks. I may end up doing that then but it did seem like a reasonable feature to have from software- I have not checked by BIOS yet. I originally tried to take the Beaver ISO through an old startup disk creator that was not supposed to work and it sort of worked once but not after I cleaned the stick to try again. So, my first version was hacked up syslinux/ fdisk/dd and now it is a bit of an experiment to put several iso's on this new stick once I get grub to run. I could probably eliminate casper and just use the thing like a normal install but still playing :) – mike marchywka Jan 18 at 14:06

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