Question Intermittent disk activity / queue length spikes

Jun 12, 2020
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Edit: Issue isn't game-specific - the below mentioned ones are more heavily affected than most however.

Be needing some help here - Windows 10 really doesn't seem to like me these days. Pretty much ever since I got this PC (bought it second hand a few months ago) I've noticed spikes in the disk activity intermittently while playing a particular couple of games - DCS and Arma 3 - causing them to completely freeze up for a short period, usually under a minute. Haven't really noticed it with the other couple of games I have on this disk but wouldn't be surprised if it was affecting them too.

My rig boots off an SSD and I use a 2TB HDD for storage but the issue still occurs when running the games off the SSD as well - the only difference is whether or not Windows freezes up as well. I've been watching the disks in Resource Monitor and while I can see the activity spiking, I can't see a particular process or file associated with the spike.

This is what the graphs looks like after one instance of a freeze (D: being the one running Arma):



But there isn't a corresponding file with a high level of read/write B/sec in the disk activity panel, which is what I'd expect.

The disk in question is a Seagate Desktop HDD ST2000DM001 2TB. The rest of my hardware is as follows:
  • Intel i7-6700K @4.00 GHz, quad core
  • Samsung SSD 950 PRO 256GB (boot drive)
  • GTX 1080 8GB
Along with 16GB of RAM. Arma uses maybe two-thirds of this and the rest of the hardware isn't even straining when I watch the performance in task manager. I've had disk problems on this box before - it got confused about its boot device after I moved and it took a reinstall of windows and much jiggling of SATA cables to get it back up and running. Have been wondering if I need to replace the disk.

So far I've tried:
  • Wipe / Reinstall Windows (problem existed before this and persisted afterwards)
  • Disabling Windows Search
  • Disabling Windows Push Notifications
  • Game mode is off
  • Reinstalled disk drivers
  • Defragged affected disk
  • Installing game on boot SSD - issue persisted
  • Checked event viewer - can't see anything obvious wrong
Nothing seems to have made a difference, so I'm not really sure where to go. I'm fairly new to having a desktop PC so apologies if I've missed some information. Any advice would be highly appreciated.
 
Last edited:
Aug 15, 2020
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Hey there mate,

I'm having strikingly similar symptoms to you, with C: queue length spikes introducing major lag and frame drops when gaming.

I'm wondering if you ever managed to resolve this?

Cheers!
 
Jun 12, 2020
2
1
15
0
Hey there mate,

I'm having strikingly similar symptoms to you, with C: queue length spikes introducing major lag and frame drops when gaming.

I'm wondering if you ever managed to resolve this?

Cheers!
I'm not completely certain if this was the exact cause but I had a look at the disk with HWiNFO and the Reallocated Sector count was ridiculously high. From my vague understanding of disk functions these bad sectors are what cause the freezing - what I've gathered is when the disk hits one it gets redirected to a spare sector, causing increased usage/activity, and the disk also only has so many spare sectors it can remap data to. Causes seem to be both physical damage or logical issues.

Defragging, formatting, repairing with chkdsk, repartitioning etc didn't change anything about it for me so I ended up just replacing the disk. Haven't had issues since. I did find a couple other reports on other forums where chkdsk and a format actually did manage to resolve or reduce the issue without disk replacement, so it's probably worth trying that first.

Hopefully this helps. Good luck!
 
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