Win 7 just won't shut up

phramus

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Jun 3, 2011
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Hi,

I have Win 7 64-bit on my new system, and I've noticed that the HDD LED constantly chatters. It never goes even a second without some disk activity.

I can't compare this to XP, because my XP machine doesn't have an HDD LED (or it's broken, or it's not wired, whatever). My XP HDD is 8 years old and still going strong, though; and that's the sort of reliability I'd like in my new system. That's 8 years of almost 24/7.

In the Win 7 resource monitor, there's usually a bunch of processes using the disk; but if I remain quiet, the long term steady state comes down to NLS and System processes. I can (and may) disable NLS, but I can't disable System. If I suspend NLS when System is the only other process shown, then the disk usage graph clears, but the HDD LED flickering continues. If I suspend System, the LED flickering stops, but then I suffer the predictable consequences.

Not entirely related, I also noticed that early on, for the first several minutes after boot, I get a considerable number of page faults. Seems kind of silly since my RAM usage never goes over 15%, but it's not problematic. The page faults do cease eventually.

My questions are these:

1. Is this constant chatter a Win 7 thing, or does XP do this also?

2. Does anyone have insight as to why the System process would be constantly accessing the HDD and/or how I can stop it from doing so?

3. Since the I/O graph may be cleared (with patience), even though the LED activity continues, is it reasonable to believe that the LED activity is just a tease and no actual I/O is happening at that time?

Thanks!
 

phramus

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Jun 3, 2011
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Yes, they are small writes, but it's constant head movement for the HDD. If it was this way with XP, too, then it doesn't bother me either. I had a very good experience with XP. If it's going to wear out my HDD in a few years, though, then it bothers me.

I did find a partial answer to my question about the system process. The resource manager "overview" tab shows disk activity detail that's missing from its "disk" tab. Go figure. Anyway, the system is constantly doing I/O for the NTFS Volume Log, Master File Table, and $usnJrnl. Sounds grim. This still leaves me wondering if it's actually doing anything other than flashing the LED, though, if no other process is using the disk.
 
The files you mention are part of the metadata for the NTFS file system - activity to them is an indirect result of creating, deleting or extending other files. I checked on my system and found that there is also activity to the Registry files (NTUser.Dat, NTUser.log) and the event logs (*.evtx), among others. It's doubtless I/O to those other files that's triggering the writes the NTFS metadata files.
 

phramus

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Jun 3, 2011
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I have finally SOLVED this problem. I installed RAID drivers when I built the system. The anticipated RAID setup never happened, but I didn't think to uninstall the drivers. I uninstalled them today, after reading about a similar problem with incessant disk activity, and the HDD LED is now quiet when the system is idle. Hooray!
 

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