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Hard Drive uses too much resources, system unusable.

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September 17, 2007 12:40:40 PM

Just finished building a new machine. Foxconn 590 SLI mobo, 500GB Maxtor hard drive, Vista. At times, hard drive acts up, takes all the resources and makes my PC unusable. Hard drive activity light constantly on when that happens. Really slow copying data from a DVD and my external hard drive. I never had this problem before, even with a low end machines, I was able to copy data to/from a hard drive and watch a movie stored on the hard drive at the same time. Please, help.
September 17, 2007 1:02:00 PM

Does it happen on start up or?...

I haven't used vista yet but if possible try Ctrl+Alt+Del explorer under processes...then click on the vista version of applications and click new task...Then type in "explorer" and run that. It should bring your startmenu and all that jazz back up...Not sure if vista is like XP though so it might be dif or completely removed feature...

It is odd that it's taking up resources. I use to have issues with freezing and what not. When my computer would start up it would do the same thing for about 2 minutes and it would go away. Try to see if in the processes task if "Dumpprep" is on the list.
September 17, 2007 1:21:15 PM

Start up is not too bad. I'll try a few things. Maybe use a different sata port? Also, on start up there is a floppy drive error, but I don't have one. I have to press F1 to continue. Then in Windows Device Manager there is a floppy drive listed...?
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September 17, 2007 1:41:31 PM

How much memory do you have? It might sinply be that you don't have enough memory and that your system is getting all it's "information" from your HDD which make it very slow. At this point your system will be look unresponsive, almost freezed. My laptop used to do this when I had only 512MB of memory, but now with 2GB it never happenned anymore. With Vista, I'd say that 1GB is a good minumum, below that what you mention will surely happenned if you multitask (do a lot of stuff at the same time, which use more memory).
September 17, 2007 1:47:30 PM

I have 2 GB of Corsair memory running at 750Mhz. I still have to go and manually change timings to 5-5-5-5-12, right now it's 18. I don't think it has something to do with it. Like I said, it only happens when the hard drive is copying a file and I am trying to do something else. The computer is unresponsive at that point. The copy speeds are slow.
September 17, 2007 1:49:48 PM

How much RAM do you have installed? IF you are light on RAM the system will use the HDD as memory.
a b G Storage
September 17, 2007 1:54:42 PM

Just throwing out some other ideas and things to look for.

1) Latest motherboard drivers?
2) Defrag the drive
3) Virus/malware/spyware scan for possible infection
4) Virus/malware/spyware scans running in the background
4) Set page file size

Checking the Task Manager to see which apps are running is a good idea, at least then you will be able to tell what keeps hitting your hard drive.

Good luck!
September 17, 2007 2:11:22 PM

I have the latest chipset drivers and BIOS. Do I need to defrag if I just reformatted the hard drive prior to installing OS? I don't use Antivirus software, only go to a small list of websites that are safe. Not sure about page file size. Can you elaborate on that, please?
September 17, 2007 3:16:28 PM

May be it is the 'System Restore' feature that is currently copying files?

Did you tried to your computer alone for a while and see if it will stop?
If yes, reboot and see if restarting or not.

Start the 'Task Manager' and under 'Performance' (I believe), there is a button at the bottom that will bring you another window. That Window is very helpfull and if you choose the 'Disk', you will see all currently accessed files. You can sort on the read or write to see the highest activity. I use that very often to see who is messing with my HDD! :) 
September 17, 2007 3:30:26 PM

Have none of you heard of "superfetch" and "indexing" ? Go look it uo and you will know why your hard drive is slow. Find out how to go into system services and disable "Superfetch and turn off indexing under your drive properties.
our hardrive using resources, it is VISTA, period.
September 17, 2007 3:58:38 PM

Vista I/O overhead is notorious, and well documented, this is supposed to be fixed in SP1.
Windows 2000 W/SP4 works well.
September 17, 2007 5:02:24 PM

Thanks for all the responses. I appreciate your help, guys. I know about superfetch and indexing, but I have been running Vista on my previous computer for 8 months and never had this problem. I was able to burn a dvd at 16x and watch a movie stored on the hard drive at the same time. Now, my system is twice as fast and I am having these problems. Few other things that might or might not be related to the problem.

1. In the device manage the processor model is unknown even though it says AMD 6000 on vista welcome screen. I will install AMD drivers today to fix that.
2. My memory is running at wrong timings 5-5-5-5-18 instead 5-5-5-5-12. I will manually change that.
3. At start-up, BIOS reports a problem with a floppy drive even though I don't have it. I will go to BIOS and see if I can fix that. It's funny, but in device manager it reports a floppy drive.
4. I will try different SATA ports. And check drive configurations, RAID options, etc in BIOS.
I will report tomorrow.
September 17, 2007 5:28:00 PM

I don't want to make this a Vista thread. I am sure there are people who have problems with it. Like I said, I have never had problems with it on my old HP system. Now, I built my own machine and it is having these issues. I will report back tomorrow after all the steps I outlined above. Thanks to each and everyone of you.
a b G Storage
September 17, 2007 5:42:42 PM

nickr336 said:
I have the latest chipset drivers and BIOS. Do I need to defrag if I just reformatted the hard drive prior to installing OS? I don't use Antivirus software, only go to a small list of websites that are safe. Not sure about page file size. Can you elaborate on that, please?


Glad to hear you have the latest mobo drivers. It makes me laugh when people reply with something like, "What?! The motherboard needs drivers too?! Huh, what, chipset, what's that?!" :pt1cable: 

My experience and habit has become and still is, to perform a defrag (using the windows utility) after installing windows, any updates, and all the latest drivers. Then install an anti-virus, disk utilities, spyware/malware checker, and secondary software firewall. And then finally use the disk utility to defratg the drive again. Also, I usually defrag the drive at least once a week, after installing and removing any applications, or deleting large (>500MB) amounts of data.

Generally speaking, whether you only visit "trusted" websites or not, it is a good idea to install anti-virus and spyware checkers anyway.

Lastly, if the OS requires more RAM than you ahve installed to run applications properly the OS has to cache memory to the hard drive in the form of the paging/swap file. If the page/swap file is set too small or if you allow windows to dynamically manage the size of the page file, it can cause unnecessary disk access. Below is copied from the WinXP Help Files on how to re-seize the page file. FYI, the page file should be (ideally) 1.5 times the amount of RAM installed in your system.





To change the size of the virtual memory paging file


[* said:
Open Computer Management (Local).
In the console tree, right-click Computer Management (Local), and then select Properties.
On the Advanced tab, click Performance Options, and under Virtual memory, click Change.
In the Drive list, click the drive that contains the paging file you want to change.
Under Paging file size for selected drive, type a new paging file size in megabytes in the Initial Size (MB) or Maximum Size (MB) box, and then click Set. If you decrease the size of either the minimum or maximum page file settings, you must restart your computer to see the effects of those changes. Increases generally do not require a restart.


Notes


  • To open Computer Management, click Start, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel. Double-click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Computer Management.
    You must be recognized as an administrator
  • or a member of the Administrators group on your computer and on the computer you are managing to perform this task.
    You can view or change system properties on a remote computer or a local computer. To access a remote computer, right-click Computer Management (Local), click Connect to another computer, and then select the computer you want to connect to in the list.
    For best performance, set the initial size to not less than the recommended size under Total paging file size for all drives. The recommended size is equivalent to 1.5 times the amount of RAM on your system.
    Usually, you should leave the paging file at its recommended size, although you might increase its size if you routinely use programs that require a lot of memory.
    To delete a paging file, set both initial size and maximum size to zero.
    ]


    To change the size of the virtual memory paging file


  • Open Computer Management (Local).
    In the console tree, right-click Computer Management (Local), and then select Properties.
    On the Advanced tab, click Performance Options, and under Virtual memory, click Change.
    In the Drive list, click the drive that contains the paging file you want to change.
    Under Paging file size for selected drive, type a new paging file size in megabytes in the Initial Size (MB) or Maximum Size (MB) box, and then click Set. If you decrease the size of either the minimum or maximum page file settings, you must restart your computer to see the effects of those changes. Increases generally do not require a restart.


    Notes


  • To open Computer Management, click Start, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel. Double-click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Computer Management.
    You must be recognized as an administrator
  • or a member of the Administrators group on your computer and on the computer you are managing to perform this task.
    You can view or change system properties on a remote computer or a local computer. To access a remote computer, right-click Computer Management (Local), click Connect to another computer, and then select the computer you want to connect to in the list.
    For best performance, set the initial size to not less than the recommended size under Total paging file size for all drives. The recommended size is equivalent to 1.5 times the amount of RAM on your system.
    Usually, you should leave the paging file at its recommended size, although you might increase its size if you routinely use programs that require a lot of memory.
    To delete a paging file, set both initial size and maximum size to zero.




    September 18, 2007 10:17:18 AM

    nickr336 said:
    At times, hard drive acts up, takes all the resources and makes my PC unusable. Hard drive activity light constantly on when that happens. Really slow copying data from a DVD and my external hard drive.
    These are the classic symptoms of a hard drive working in PIO mode. I’m not sure where you would check for this with SATA drives in Vista, but with PATA drives in XP it’s under Device Manager > IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers.
    September 18, 2007 11:15:30 AM

    nickr336 said:
    Just finished building a new machine. Foxconn 590 SLI mobo, 500GB Maxtor hard drive, Vista. At times, hard drive acts up, takes all the resources and makes my PC unusable. Hard drive activity light constantly on when that happens. Really slow copying data from a DVD and my external hard drive. I never had this problem before, even with a low end machines, I was able to copy data to/from a hard drive and watch a movie stored on the hard drive at the same time. Please, help.


    One word: Vista. You answered your own question.
    September 18, 2007 12:45:24 PM

    Cenarius, I thought PIO mode was available only for IDE hard drives. Can someone else verify this? I will look tonight to make sure it is set to DMA and not PIO.
    September 18, 2007 12:53:32 PM

    Did you check which process and which files were heavily used using Vista tool (Resource Monitor)? I found that tool very usefull and XP should have that too.

    Every time I see my HDD light too green, I look who is doing what.
    September 18, 2007 1:04:32 PM

    @nickr336

    You are correct, sorta. SATA doesn't actually have a PIO mode. Most motherboards offer a compatibility mode, which is partly a lie. From what I've read about it, if you choose the compatibility mode, it's still DMA, but now there's some kind of partial emulation that makes SATA operate more like PIO. Unfortunately compatibility mode is more compatible in a few ways, and less compatible in a bunch of ways. I'm not privy to the exact specifics, but I hope this helps. Can anyone clarify on this and confirm the whole story with PIO/DMA on SATA?

    September 18, 2007 1:45:35 PM

    I've seen issues with SATA 3.0 drives on MBs that were supposed to support them. The drives had odd timing problems that would cause random hangs or failed reads. Forcing the port to 1.5 always fixed the problem on XP (just say NO to Vista :) . You could force the speed with the port properties and some drives had a jumper to do it as well.

    For example, Western Digital Caviar 3.0 drives just don't work with my ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe but Seagate drives work fine.
    September 19, 2007 8:01:22 AM

    cyberjock said:
    SATA doesn't actually have a PIO mode. Most motherboards offer a compatibility mode, which is partly a lie. From what I've read about it, if you choose the compatibility mode, it's still DMA, but now there's some kind of partial emulation that makes SATA operate more like PIO.
    You may be right, I’m not sure if it is actually PIO or some kind of compatibility mode, as you mention. I might have to go and read some big white paper on SATA some day. :sweat: 

    According to one source, however:
    Quote:
    Note that PIO can be selected as a fall back even for SATA disks.
    http://pclt.cis.yale.edu/pclt/PCHW/IDESCSI.HTM

    The next tip on trying SATA 1.5G/s certainly sounds worthwhile.
    September 19, 2007 12:22:19 PM

    I just reread the thread. I tried everything except the page file. With nothing else running, I was copying data from another hard drive and the speed was 4-5MB/sec. On my old computer it was 20+MB/sec. I will do more tests today, trying to burn a DVD at 16x and do a verify after burning. I might just buy another HDD. Maybe it's a bad hard drive, and I heard bad things about this brand (Maxtor) before.
    September 20, 2007 10:56:13 AM

    So I was thinking... answer these questions for me please:

    1. How are you measuring the transfer rate? 200MB file taking x seconds on a stopwatch?
    2. You said in your first post you used to be able to copy files and watch a movie at the same time. Are you having THIS problem only when doing that or even when just idling?
    3. Sure, there's alot of Vista bashing going on, but have you tried using XP on your new machine to see if the problem goes away?

    I'm kind of skeptical of Vista because we're finding more and more hidden 'features' in Vista and so I don't discount some random occurrence when someone puts Vista on their machine and the next day they need a new video card. I personally installed Vista on a spare laptop, after 2 reboots I can't charge the battery at all. My first thought is it HAS to be a coincidence. But, do we really know all the funny games MS is playing with our computer in the background? The DRM, DX10, all the secret hidden updates they are doing. What the hell else are they doing to our computers? I don't hold Microsoft responsible for my battery, but I also don't pretend it can't possibly be them. I simply admit that it's possible, and the true cause will never be known.
    September 22, 2007 1:05:10 AM

    1. On 17/09 you reported that your bios reports a problem with a floppy drive you don't have.
    Go into your bios and change the setting for your floppy to "Not Installed".
    2. Not running anti-virus is dangeruos as you don't get viruses, and/or spyware, only from websites.
    Install AVG Free, Adaware and Spybot S&D. Run them.
    3. Defrag should be run, especially after installing your OS.
    I hope you partitioned your hard drive as defragging a large disk can take hours. Install Diskeeper to automate the process.
    !