Questions

HARD DRIVE ACTIVITY: HDD Light Blinking Every Second....

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HARD DRIVE ACTIVITY: HDD Light Blinking Every Second....

denkile
HARD DRIVE ACTIVITY: HDD Light Blinking Every Second....updated 2007-01-03-2:22 pm

What causes the busy-work hard drive activity;
with nothing open the HDD light blinks every second.

How do I find what causes the incessent blinking HDD light ?
It masks HDD activity which should be monitored when installing software, etc.

It seems to be a software problem:
_does not occur in clean install of XP SP1.
_started with install of something after SP2.
('Will watch for it next "clean install")

Doubt that it is a memory or pagefile issue:
_1 GB RAM/memory, 50% free.
_Pagefile set at 4 GB (4096 MB), max and min
(same as virtual memory)

'Tried turning off everything in the
Startup Menue without success.
(Used Advanced Systen Optimizer utility)

Have checked but cannot find in:
_taskmgr.exe > Processes
_perfmon.msc

"Have seen this issue on other home systems.

Windows XP-home, SP2, IE7.

HDD: internal, SATA, 50 GB NTFS partition
33 % free.
  • +
    0 Votes
    ManiacMan

    You can press CTRL-ALT-DEL and click on the processes tab to see what background processes are consuming the most CPU cycles. Also, if your system has little RAM, your paging file usage will be excessive and will cause the hard drive to thrash as the paging file will be used extensively to for virtual RAM. This can also bee seen from Task Manager when you click on the performance tab and look at the PF Usage stats. If the bars are in the red zoneand the Page File Usage History line is towards the top, then you need to add more RAM. How much RAM does your system have?

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    0 Votes
    denkile

    Thanks for your reply.
    'Had pondered and watched taskmgr.exe
    but cannot find it there.
    See updated question on memory and PageFile.
    This does not seem to cause the clockwork
    HDD activity when it should be idle.

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    0 Votes
    CG IT

    that way the annoying light goes away.

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    0 Votes
    denkile

    Actually, I had experienced this by chance
    and learned:
    _better to use SATA cables with latches
    (bought a half dozen at newegg.com)
    _could hotswap my C:drive like a flash drive

    Have you tried this ?
    Pls share your results...what did the
    BIOS say ?

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    0 Votes
    seanferd

    Try turning off the Indexing feature in Control Panel, or set it to index when you want it to, if you need that feature. There could be other services or processes/threads running in the background that you cannot detect in taskmanager. WGA is a possibility, especially if you don't have all the updates yet. Look here: <br>
    Windows Sysinternals Documentation, downloads and additional resources <br>
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/default.aspx
    <br>
    for some utilities that can show you what is going on inside your system. You can also try a task manager like ATM (very nice, you can find it on download.cnet.com) or one of many others. Some of these utils (usually quite small, many are free) will show you what Windows will not. You can find out what is running, and check on the programs' settings to see if it is running in the background all the time. Decide if you need the feature, and how much of it you need. A lot of things you can just turn off.
    <br><br>
    Anti-virus/ anti-malware / security programs, depending on their settings, may cause quite a lot of disk activity, even when the system is otherwise idle.
    <br><br>
    Have fun exploring Windows.
    <br><br>
    P.S.: I really think that the post you were responding to was meant as a joke, just pulling your leg. My interpretation was literal: Just unplug it. That's all. No connection=no running drive=no blinkenlights. I thought it was pretty funny, but, yeah, some other issues with drives can be resolved by resetting the BIOS. Disconnect drive, boot, shutdown, reconnect drive, boot. Sometimes this is a fix for an apparently dead drive, etc. I have very little experience with SATA, so I don't know. Maybe confused device drivers cause a lot of HDD activity, and the above procedure might possibly help. If that is the case, uninstalling the drive from the hardware tree would be your first move, as Windows would then re-detect it on boot.

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    0 Votes
    ThumbsUp2

    ... especially activity that seems to be timed (ie, HD blinks ever second), are various programs set to monitor devices, such as printer monitors. They "poll" on a regular basis, like every second or so, to check the status of the device and MAY be creating log entries as they work.

    File indexing can cause what appears to be a regular blink of the hard drive.


    Quite simply put, there are a TON of things that can be going on in the background which create the "regularly blinking hard drive activity light". So, without actually SEEING your particular setup, it's tough to put our finger on it for you. You'll have to be our eyes and ears.

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    0 Votes
    seanferd

    It could be all sorts of things, and all we can do is give you general ideas of where to look. Heck, if you really have no idea of what you are looking at, you could probably post a HijackThis log. I don't think that it would be an issue, but Beth Blakely is free to smack me upside my head if I am wrong here.

    One other minor suggestion: To make sure it is not network activity related, disable/disconnect from the network and see if the HDD activity is the same.

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    0 Votes
    denkile

    HARD DRIVE ACTIVITY: still working on it

    'Have not found it. It is not:
    _indexing
    _network activity
    _toolbars
    A possible suspect is the chipset hotswap
    (VIA P4M800, VIA VT8237R).

    'Had hoped that someone had solved this
    issue like the ME indexing thing.

    I plan to do a "clean install" next weekend
    and to catch what causes the blinks.
    I will post my results in a week or so.

    (Working on a backup problem:
    my Nero 6 DVD+RWs will not open
    in XP Explorer)

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    0 Votes
    ThumbsUp2

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe you have to finalize the RW disk (close it) before XP Explorer can read it. While it's still set to add more files, NERO is the only thing that will open it again. Roxio's DirectCD works in much the same way.

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    0 Votes
    seanferd

    Try disabling auto-insert notification for the CD drive. Older versions of Windows used to cause blinking due to drive polling.

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    0 Votes
    denkile

    How do I disable auto-insert notification for the CD drive ?
    (For the Nero 6 DVD+RW not opening issue
    I have tried D:>Properties>Auto-Play
    including "take no action".)

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    0 Votes
    seanferd

    Note: auto-play will cease to work entirely, and when you change CDs, the name shown in Explorer (of the CD) may not change. Also, the the displayed contents in the Explorer Pane (file tree) may not change. This will not affect your ability to access the contents of the CD, however. You can still run program or game CDs by using any shortcut you have for the program or game, or by double-clicking the executable file for the program or game where you find it on the CD.

    Right-click the My Computer icon on the Desktop (it may have a name other than My Computer). Select Properties > Device Manager. Expand (click the + next to) CDROM. Double-click the CDROM Drive. On the Settings Tab, remove the check in the box next to Auto-insert Notification. Click OK. Click Close. You will probably have to re-start your system for the settings to take effect. (Windows will say so, just click OK or Yes when Windows asks.)

    Repeat the procedure for other CDROM Drives, if you have more than one. You can do this before you re-start the system.

    Note: You can also access the System Properties through the Control Panel, if you like. In Control Panel, you would access "System".

    Please feel free to post back if you find any of this to be unclear. Hope this helps.

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    0 Votes
    seanferd

    Perhaps sp2 treats things differently. Nothing is changed, but sp2 is causing more "indication" to happen.
    <br><br>
    Is your cd drive on the same channel as the hdd?
    <br><br>
    Does this light indicate hdd activity only?
    <br><br>
    Maybe it is just pagefile activity?
    <br><br>
    Try setting the hdd to spin down after 3 minutes (or less, if available) in APM. Does the light blink after the system shuts down the hdd after 3 minutes of system inactivity?
    <br><br>
    See this, just on the offchance:
    http://ask.metafilter.com/57559/Why-Does-the-Hard-Drive-Light-Blink-Exactly-Every-Second <br>
    note the mention of XPsp2
    <br><br>
    Maybe this is just a "feature" of your drive. enabled by sp2.

  • +
    0 Votes
    ManiacMan

    You can press CTRL-ALT-DEL and click on the processes tab to see what background processes are consuming the most CPU cycles. Also, if your system has little RAM, your paging file usage will be excessive and will cause the hard drive to thrash as the paging file will be used extensively to for virtual RAM. This can also bee seen from Task Manager when you click on the performance tab and look at the PF Usage stats. If the bars are in the red zoneand the Page File Usage History line is towards the top, then you need to add more RAM. How much RAM does your system have?

    +
    0 Votes
    denkile

    Thanks for your reply.
    'Had pondered and watched taskmgr.exe
    but cannot find it there.
    See updated question on memory and PageFile.
    This does not seem to cause the clockwork
    HDD activity when it should be idle.

    +
    0 Votes
    CG IT

    that way the annoying light goes away.

    +
    0 Votes
    denkile

    Actually, I had experienced this by chance
    and learned:
    _better to use SATA cables with latches
    (bought a half dozen at newegg.com)
    _could hotswap my C:drive like a flash drive

    Have you tried this ?
    Pls share your results...what did the
    BIOS say ?

    +
    0 Votes
    seanferd

    Try turning off the Indexing feature in Control Panel, or set it to index when you want it to, if you need that feature. There could be other services or processes/threads running in the background that you cannot detect in taskmanager. WGA is a possibility, especially if you don't have all the updates yet. Look here: <br>
    Windows Sysinternals Documentation, downloads and additional resources <br>
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/default.aspx
    <br>
    for some utilities that can show you what is going on inside your system. You can also try a task manager like ATM (very nice, you can find it on download.cnet.com) or one of many others. Some of these utils (usually quite small, many are free) will show you what Windows will not. You can find out what is running, and check on the programs' settings to see if it is running in the background all the time. Decide if you need the feature, and how much of it you need. A lot of things you can just turn off.
    <br><br>
    Anti-virus/ anti-malware / security programs, depending on their settings, may cause quite a lot of disk activity, even when the system is otherwise idle.
    <br><br>
    Have fun exploring Windows.
    <br><br>
    P.S.: I really think that the post you were responding to was meant as a joke, just pulling your leg. My interpretation was literal: Just unplug it. That's all. No connection=no running drive=no blinkenlights. I thought it was pretty funny, but, yeah, some other issues with drives can be resolved by resetting the BIOS. Disconnect drive, boot, shutdown, reconnect drive, boot. Sometimes this is a fix for an apparently dead drive, etc. I have very little experience with SATA, so I don't know. Maybe confused device drivers cause a lot of HDD activity, and the above procedure might possibly help. If that is the case, uninstalling the drive from the hardware tree would be your first move, as Windows would then re-detect it on boot.

    +
    0 Votes
    ThumbsUp2

    ... especially activity that seems to be timed (ie, HD blinks ever second), are various programs set to monitor devices, such as printer monitors. They "poll" on a regular basis, like every second or so, to check the status of the device and MAY be creating log entries as they work.

    File indexing can cause what appears to be a regular blink of the hard drive.


    Quite simply put, there are a TON of things that can be going on in the background which create the "regularly blinking hard drive activity light". So, without actually SEEING your particular setup, it's tough to put our finger on it for you. You'll have to be our eyes and ears.

    +
    0 Votes
    seanferd

    It could be all sorts of things, and all we can do is give you general ideas of where to look. Heck, if you really have no idea of what you are looking at, you could probably post a HijackThis log. I don't think that it would be an issue, but Beth Blakely is free to smack me upside my head if I am wrong here.

    One other minor suggestion: To make sure it is not network activity related, disable/disconnect from the network and see if the HDD activity is the same.

    +
    0 Votes
    denkile

    HARD DRIVE ACTIVITY: still working on it

    'Have not found it. It is not:
    _indexing
    _network activity
    _toolbars
    A possible suspect is the chipset hotswap
    (VIA P4M800, VIA VT8237R).

    'Had hoped that someone had solved this
    issue like the ME indexing thing.

    I plan to do a "clean install" next weekend
    and to catch what causes the blinks.
    I will post my results in a week or so.

    (Working on a backup problem:
    my Nero 6 DVD+RWs will not open
    in XP Explorer)

    +
    0 Votes
    ThumbsUp2

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe you have to finalize the RW disk (close it) before XP Explorer can read it. While it's still set to add more files, NERO is the only thing that will open it again. Roxio's DirectCD works in much the same way.

    +
    0 Votes
    seanferd

    Try disabling auto-insert notification for the CD drive. Older versions of Windows used to cause blinking due to drive polling.

    +
    0 Votes
    denkile

    How do I disable auto-insert notification for the CD drive ?
    (For the Nero 6 DVD+RW not opening issue
    I have tried D:>Properties>Auto-Play
    including "take no action".)

    +
    0 Votes
    seanferd

    Note: auto-play will cease to work entirely, and when you change CDs, the name shown in Explorer (of the CD) may not change. Also, the the displayed contents in the Explorer Pane (file tree) may not change. This will not affect your ability to access the contents of the CD, however. You can still run program or game CDs by using any shortcut you have for the program or game, or by double-clicking the executable file for the program or game where you find it on the CD.

    Right-click the My Computer icon on the Desktop (it may have a name other than My Computer). Select Properties > Device Manager. Expand (click the + next to) CDROM. Double-click the CDROM Drive. On the Settings Tab, remove the check in the box next to Auto-insert Notification. Click OK. Click Close. You will probably have to re-start your system for the settings to take effect. (Windows will say so, just click OK or Yes when Windows asks.)

    Repeat the procedure for other CDROM Drives, if you have more than one. You can do this before you re-start the system.

    Note: You can also access the System Properties through the Control Panel, if you like. In Control Panel, you would access "System".

    Please feel free to post back if you find any of this to be unclear. Hope this helps.

    +
    0 Votes
    seanferd

    Perhaps sp2 treats things differently. Nothing is changed, but sp2 is causing more "indication" to happen.
    <br><br>
    Is your cd drive on the same channel as the hdd?
    <br><br>
    Does this light indicate hdd activity only?
    <br><br>
    Maybe it is just pagefile activity?
    <br><br>
    Try setting the hdd to spin down after 3 minutes (or less, if available) in APM. Does the light blink after the system shuts down the hdd after 3 minutes of system inactivity?
    <br><br>
    See this, just on the offchance:
    http://ask.metafilter.com/57559/Why-Does-the-Hard-Drive-Light-Blink-Exactly-Every-Second <br>
    note the mention of XPsp2
    <br><br>
    Maybe this is just a "feature" of your drive. enabled by sp2.