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Hard drive always busy.. possibly

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September 5, 2010 1:00:14 AM

Sorry if this is in the wrong place but it seemed to fit.

Just recently I've been noticing more and more of those generic "hard drive working" sounds, the sort of faint clicking that's a bit like a geiger counter. This has me worried because when I checked the resource monitor it was constantly accessing games and programs that I usually use, I later read that this was a new feature which searches for patterns in usage and tries to guess what you're going to use next. I disabled it to see if the hard drive quietened down, which it didn't.

After a bit more reading I found another bit of information suggesting that it was the Vista search indexer, again I checked the resource monitor and there it was, indexing away. Now I thought that was odd because surely after so many months of usage and so little change on the system, all the files would be indexed by now, wouldn't they? I turned that off too. Again no change.

After doing a quick once over and deciding that my drive was pretty cluttered with junk and that I've been experiancing some strange oddeties lately, I resolved to do a clean install of Vista and start fresh.

And now I have a fresh install and the drive is still sending the resource monitor charts up and down like a hyperactive child on a bed. The RAM and CPU seem fine so now I'm starting to worry that it's a physical problem with the drive.

Basically, help? Any advice would be greaaatly appriciated.
a c 415 G Storage
September 5, 2010 1:39:08 AM

Do you have an antivirus product such as Microsoft Security Essentials? Such products often do a background scan of files.

Remember that after a fresh install the indexing service will have to re-index all of your files again.
September 5, 2010 1:49:11 AM

I haven't installed any antivirus software yet, or anything really. As I've said it's a clean install with just drivers and such.

And the first thing I did was disable the indexing service to see if that made any difference, which it didn't.

These aren't the annoying loud clicking grinding sounds that ancient hard drives make by the way, just the usual busy sound. Which is why it's got me worried, it has no reason to be busy.
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September 5, 2010 12:21:56 PM

Small update, after soom more random googling I decided to see if turning off page file would make a difference, I think the noises have stopped but what affect will this have on my system and it's performance in the long run?

Cheers
a c 415 G Storage
September 5, 2010 3:24:07 PM

Turning off the page file means that you'll only be able to have as much stuff running as will fit in the RAM you have installed. If the system runs out of RAM it will probably freeze or possibly crash.

How much memory do you have?

You can run Task Manager (Ctl+Shif+Esc) and check the "Memory" graph on the "Performance" tab. I'd say that as long as you never exceed perhaps 70-75% even when you're running the most and largest programs that you ever use then you might be fine without a page file. Note, however, that some older programs may refuse to work without one.
September 5, 2010 9:00:15 PM

Seems that it didn't solve the problem after all, it appeared to at first but then something set it off again.

And I have 4gb of RAM.
a c 415 G Storage
September 5, 2010 11:29:35 PM

Which OS do you have? If you have Vista or Windows 7 you can run the Resource Monitor (Start -> type "Resource Monitor", hit <enter>) and look at the "Disk" statistics to see which process is doing the most I/O.
September 6, 2010 12:13:03 PM

It could very well be a physical problem as you are fearing... Try and do a full surface scan on all the drive partitions and check if there are any bad sectors on it.
September 6, 2010 1:56:57 PM

I'm using Vista x64 premium.

Various processes show up randomly and take up fairly large (at least what I believe to be large) read/write resources, all of these are bracketed under svchost.
September 6, 2010 2:20:35 PM

I just ran chkdsk and it didn't seem to point out anything problematic, though I'm a little out of my depth to be honest.

It did say "0 KB in bad sectors" at one point though, is that what you were talking about noble?
a c 415 G Storage
September 6, 2010 3:48:13 PM

"0 KB in bad sectors" is a good message, it means that you don't have any bad sectors as far as the file system is concerned. But a better check is to look at the drive's SMART counters using a utility like "DiskCheckup". If the disk controller has detected any bad sectors you'll see a non-zero "Reallocated" or "Pending" sector count.

In Resource Monitor you can click on the "Total (B/sec)" column heading to sort the list of processes by their disk activity. Clicking a second time sorts descending so that the heaviest I/O users will be at the top of the list. You'd want to have a look at this while you're hearing the clicking from the drive.

Is there anything in parenthesis after the name of the "svchost.exe" process(es) that are at the top of the list?

And another question - does your system have a light that blinks while the disk is being accessed? If so, is it blinking or on while you're hearing the sounds?
September 7, 2010 12:15:19 AM

I'll try DiskCheckup post haste.

After all the svchost.exe's (there's a lot of them) is "(LocalSystemNetworkRestricted) followed by 1016 in the PID column the highet of these (again, loads of them) is 16-21 million B/sec write and 277,000 B/sec read.

And the light blinks all the time sometimes it doesn't blink at all, it just stays on.

Additionally, it very occasionally stops the excessive behavior while I'm using a program, though most of the time it just keeps going through it.

Edit: Tried DiskCheckup and I assume these are what you mean:


SMART ATTRIBUTES:
ID Description Raw Value Status Value Worst Threshold TEC
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1 Raw Read Error Rate 0x00000591C4A2 OK 115 99 6 N.A.
3 Spin Up Time 0x000000000000 OK 95 93 0 N.A.
4 Start/Stop Count 0x000000000400 OK 99 99 20 N.A.
5 Reallocated Sector Count 0x000000000000 OK 100 100 36 N.A.
7 Seek Error Rate 0x000C12CFCE42 OK 73 60 30 N.A.
9 Power On Time 0x000000002A3A OK 88 88 0 N.A.
10 Spin Retry Count 0x000000000007 OK 100 100 97 N.A.
12 Power Cycle Count 0x0000000003FE OK 100 100 20 N.A.
184 End-to-End error 0x000000000000 OK 100 100 99 N.A.
187 Reported Uncorrectable Errors 0x000000000000 OK 100 100 0 N.A.
188 Command Timeout 0x00010001000F OK 100 98 0 N.A.
189 High Fly Writes 0x000000000015 OK 79 79 0 N.A.
190 Temperature Difference from 100 0x000026150026 OK 62 52 45 N.A.
194 Temperature 38 C OK 38 48 0 N.A.
195 Hardware ECC Recovered 0x00000591C4A2 OK 45 35 0 N.A.
197 Current Pending Sector Count 0x000000000000 OK 100 100 0 N.A.
198 Uncorrectable Sector Count 0x000000000000 OK 100 100 0 N.A.
199 UltraDMA CRC Error Count 0x000000000000 OK 200 200 0 N.A.
a c 415 G Storage
September 7, 2010 1:16:14 AM

The SMART data shows no reallocated or pending sectors, so the drive appears to be OK.

There's a lot of hits when you Google "LocalSystemNetworkRestricted" - it looks like a lot of other Vista users have this problem and I haven't seen anyone that's posted a solid solution to it. Many people seem to be blaming it on the SuperFetch service, but others claim that turning that service off doesn't solve the problem.

It's possible that you're seeing pagefile activity due to insufficient RAM, although with 4GB this seems like a stretch. When you run Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc) what is the amount of memory that's used in the graph on the "Performance" tab?
September 7, 2010 1:26:10 AM

With nothing else running it holds steady at 1.24GB.

What should be the normal read/write rate for an idle PC?

Edit: Could a portion of the RAM be damaged? Thus causing excessive drive usage?
a c 415 G Storage
September 7, 2010 5:00:52 AM

Is it at around 1.2GB when it's doing a lot of disk activity? If so, the page file won't be the issue.

I'm at a loss to explain the issue. From the threads I've seen (related to "LocalSystemNetworkRestricted"), it seems to be something that a number of Vista users have complained about. I haven't seen any complaints of that type from Windows 7 users, though...
September 7, 2010 12:52:39 PM

No it remains fairly consistent throughout the disk activity. Hopefully a new hard drive along with Windows 7 should fix the issue.

You've offered up enough help already so don't worry if you can't find the problem, it's probably just some quirk of my system, a very irritating one. Thanks for all your help :D 

!