Stacking hard drives

A reader has a question about external hard drives.

“I emailed WD to ask if I can stack my 6+ desktop hard drives. They sent an email saying they should be spaced apart for effective cooling. I replied asking if a CD case “spacer” would work. They replied that telephone conversation would be better. On the phone they said that they could be spaced close together without overheating. I feel that could be OK since at most one drive is reading and another writing. Have you had any experience with this? Thanks very much for your tips!”

First, I’m hoping that the customer support at WD knows their products pretty well but I can give you some general advice about the drives and any other kind of equipment that might get hot. If there are vents of any kind, make sure they are not blocked by anything.

If your drives are more like this model, make sure the back and sides aren’t touching anything if you stack them, so any heat generated has a place to go. In workplaces, heat-equipment is usually stacked in special racks with ventilation in the back and sometimes even a fan on the top to move the heat out of the way. A CD case spacer would stop the drives from touching, but wouldn’t allow any heat to escape.  I think I might go for something like this.


You can check it out on Amazon by clicking here, but I’m sure you can find something like it in just about any store.  The mesh would allow heat to escape all the way around and the openings on the side and back would allow you to run cords to your PC.


Since you say, you don’t normally have the drives working terribly hard at the same time, they probably won’t get that hot. You could certainly follow WD’s advice and just stack them. And then carefully monitor whether or not they get overheated. I come from a TV background with lots of heat-sensitive equipment, so I’m pretty darn paranoid about heat. I’d probably try something like the wire shelf set-up to see how it works.

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