RE: Vista Excessive Disk Activity

I'm seeing this too. I noticed it after I set Power Options-Advanced
Settings- Hard Disk-Turn Off Hard Disk After to 5 minutes on a new laptop and
found that the hard disk keeps running indefinitely. Reliability and
Performance monitor shows that six files, including C:\$Logfile and C:\$Mft,
get written to every few seconds like a heartbeat, even when the system is
fully idle. I searched the web and found only one forum thread that has
relevant information:

The last entry by Shyster1 is the most informative, but still doesn't
explain why the "heartbeat" writes are necessary.

This behavior raises some questions:

1) Does forcing the system drive to run constantly make sense from a system
responsiveness/performance point of view? In other words, would the user be
annoyed by having to wait for the system drive to spin up every now and again?

2) Does it make sense to display the "Turn off Hard Disk After" power option
in systems that have only one (system) drive? Does this feature affect
external USB drives for instance? If it only applies to internal hard
drives, then it shouldn't show if a system has only one drive.

3) If the "Turn off Hard Disk After" power option actually worked for the
system drive, would Vista be significantly more energy efficient than it is?
Since hard drives draw a fair amount of power, I'm guessing the answer is
yes. There's an obvious trade off here between energy efficiency and
usability (i.e. #1 above), but perhaps users should be allowed to decide what
is best for them.

"rbd" wrote:

For the past few weeks I have been attempting to create a Vista Home
Premium configuration on a new Core 2 Duo PC. I though that I had
finally created a stable config with all the proper hardware drivers and
many of my apps. I then noticed that the disk activity light was on
solid - and I couldn't figure out why.

I ran a number of process tools, the only one that seemed to provide
useful information being Perfmon. Perfmon showed two distinct types of
disk activity.

The first, was causing the disk activity light to stay on solid, and was
caused by the reading of files on my D: data disk. I found that by
stopping/starting the SysMain Superfetch service I can turn off/turn on
this constant disk read activity. It appears that Superfetch looks
through previously opened user data files - even if they were used only
once, are 4+GB in size, and may never be used again from within VISTA.
It is beyond my comprehension what possible good this type of activity
would do me, or any other VISTA user. After I get to the point where
I've installed Lightroom/Photoshop/Picasa/PaperPort and other apps that
routinely access and/or index GB of user files - will access to my D:
drive ever stop? Why would Superfetch bother with non-executable data
files on a non-system partition? After reading the MS VISTA Kernel
description I know that turning off SuperFetch will impact certain VISTA
features - so what?.

Second issue: I noticed a secondary disk activity that consists of
continuous writes to various files on C: that occur at the rate of a few
each second. Again, I attempted to isolate that IO activity with
Perfmon, including noting the PIDs and then attempting to stop the
Applications with that PID - with no success.

In an attempt to further diagnose the issues, I restored a C: partition
backup for the first OOTB Vista configuration (no updates, drivers, apps
installed). The steady drone of repeated disk writes to C: also occurs
in that base build. The disk writes involves areas such as:

files lastalive0.dat and lastalive1.dat
from svchost LocalSystemNetworkRestricted.

c:\$Logfile (NTFS Volume Log)
from System

This is my only Vista system, so I have none other to compare it to.

I've turned off Indexing, turned off Defender, uninstalled AVG, turned
off disk defrags, and disabled all items in the Scheduler - the C: disk
activity goes on.

I find all this disk IO activity unwanted, distracting, and possibly
damaging to disk drive health in the long term. I don't understand why
this type of activity should be necessary for a single-user desktop PC
and why it is so darned difficult to determine what is causing it.

I'd appreciate any assistance in explaining what this constant disk C:
write activity might be, what other diagnostic tools I could use to
isolate the causes, and how to stop it (other than to install WINXP or
buy a Mac).


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