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hdd not spinning down w/ cpudyn / consequences of spinning down?

Ivan Fernandez Pelaez pointed out that noflushd doesn't work for journaled file systems. I was looking through the apt-cache when I saw cpudyn and it said it works on ext3 for CPU throttling and hdd spinning down. The CPU throttling works well, but I'm still getting no sleeping of the hdd. I put "-" characters in my syslog. Could gkrellmd keep my hdd running? Is there a way to monitor what processes are writing to my disk?

Also, what are the consequences of spinning down for the lifetime of my laptop's hdd (hitachi 20gb)? Is this good for it or does it take a toll? 
I understand that it saves energy, but what's the toll on the overall computer life? I heard some hdds only have a number of spin downs in their lifespan.

I'm also looking into laptop mode but the part about having data loss in ten minute increments worries me.

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