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Would like a utility to help monitor excessive hard drive activity

Posted on 2015-02-11
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Last Modified: 2015-02-27
This is a Lenovo Desktop with Windows 8, I don't have the model at the moment but it is about 1 year old and was  a top of the line PC then.
-Core i7 4xxx
-16GB RAM
- discrete video card.
I would consider it essentially a high-end business PC or a mid-low end gaming PC. No SSD but I'm pretty sure a 7200RPM SATA disk.

It's used for business. Primarily "Total Fuel", a Fuel Oil business client management system. It is a client and the server for "Total Fuel" (it serves itself and 1-2 other PCs, just Windows file sharing), Quickbooks, web/email, a Trend "Worry-Free Business Security" Standard Server (for about 5 PCs) and it runs Crashplan (local to USB hdd) and Carbonite (cloud) backup.

The PC has been running slowly for quite some time. The hard drive seems to be the issue. Whenever the user feels it's slow, the hard drive has high activity and the red drive light is nearly constantly ON. I find it difficult to pin down exactly which program is causing this using the built in monitoring under Task Manager. Either I need some help using Task Manager more effectively for this issue or I need a utility to help log things.

Suggestions?
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Question by:RickNCN
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Assisted Solution

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
David Johnson, CD, MVP earned 50 total points
ID: 40603849
Task manager / Performance / Open Performance Monitor
Open Performance MonitorDisk Tab, sort by total bytes/sec
Performance Monitor
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LVL 47

Assisted Solution

by:dlethe
dlethe earned 50 total points
ID: 40603911
Looks like there really is no problem OTHER than you're simply giving it too much work at any point in time to get the desired performance.

I don't know if your flavor of Win8 allows for  software RAID1, but if it does, then I recommend that.  What this will do is give you 2X the read performance, and will not affect write performance.  It will also result in a mirrored config so you'll be OK if a drive fails.  The native windows software RAID does read-load balancing.

it is a safe, easy fix, and you can even do the conversion on-line.  The alternative is to buy a faster disk.    The other  possibility is you have a lot of bad blocks, and you can eliminate that by looking at event log and seeing if there are a lot  of disk read errors.  (You would probalby have noticed alerts and errors if that was the case)
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LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:McKnife
ID: 40604074
My company has stopped using mechanical disks at all, only SSDs left.
To give you an idea: some decent fresh machine came preinstalled with win8.1 on a HDD. Boot time to the desktop was 60 seconds (including POST). Cloned it to an SSD, now 7 seconds. The HDD was a bad one, but no HDD would match the SSDs. Try it once, you will never go back.
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Author Comment

by:RickNCN
ID: 40604181
Oh, i totally agree, ssd is the way to go. I just installed an ssd on an Inspiron i5 4gb and boot time including bios was just that, about 8 seconds.

We may clone to an ssd but there shouldnt be a need for it here. This is a fast, new i7 4770 with 16GB ram..  Im not really putting that much load on a system like this. I have even paused carbonite and crashplan (though they were already set NOT to backup during business hours).  And it's still pegged.  

Trend WFBS server is only handling at most 3 pc's virus updates. No load there. Quickbooks is probably doing a little something in the background but that wouldnt be the cause.  I turned off Trend AV client and MBAM. Paused both backups, still it's pegged hard at or near 100% disk
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LVL 53

Assisted Solution

by:McKnife
McKnife earned 50 total points
ID: 40604193
"This is a fast, new i7 4770 with 16GB ram.. " - the whole package is what counts. And your great CPU and RAM cannot compensate the slow hard drive. Hard drives are very important for so many operations.
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LVL 91

Accepted Solution

by:
nobus earned 350 total points
ID: 40605071
it can even be a dying drive -  disk rereads will cause slowups
so run a disk diagnostic for your disk brand, i use the ubcd a lot
Hardware diagnostic CD    UBCD

go to the download page, scroll down to the mirror section, and  click on a mirror to start the download
Download the UBCD and make the cd   <<==on a WORKING PC, and boot the problem PC from it
Here 2 links, one to the general site, and a direct link to the download

since the downloaded file is an ISO file, eg ubcd527.iso - so you need to use an ISO burning tool
if you don't have that software, install cdburnerXP : http://cdburnerxp.se/

If you want also the Ram tested - run memtest86+ at least 1 full pass,  - you should have NO errors!
 
For disk Diagnostics run the disk diag for your disk brand (eg seagate diag for seagate drive)  from the HDD section -  long or advanced diag !  (runs at least for30 minutes)

http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/                        ultimate boot cd
http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/download.html             download page

**  you can make a bootable cd - or bootable usb stick
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Author Comment

by:RickNCN
ID: 40605856
McKnife, i'm totally with you, i do know that hard drives bottleneck systems, but the bottom line is there's nothing running that's so disk intensive that should have the drive pegged at 100 for long long stretches. It's a 7200rpm Sata3 drive.  You know from experience what a system should be able to handle and this is not normal.

Looking at the Task Manager>Performance >Disk graph now, average response times are almost always 1000-10000ms. Rarely less than 1000ms.

Disk activity 100% solid. Disk queue length at 50 (highest) pegged.

Ran MBAM an MBAR btw and both came up clean.

I Ran the windows version of Seatools first. It passed all the short tests. Cant run DOS tools right now. Maybe soon.  Im also focusing in on Carbonite. A carbonite process  called carbonitemirrorimage.exe was always near the top of the disk Reads/sec list. I updated carbonite then i paused both online backup and mirror backup and disk activity fell to normal bumps. Turned carbonite back on  and im back to near 100%.  Turning it off and on does not have a complete correlation but im going to leave that and crashplan off and see if the major usage goes away.
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LVL 91

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 40606122
plse run the long test when possible!
but it looks as if Carbonite is doing a bit too much - is it configureable??
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Author Comment

by:RickNCN
ID: 40611204
Carbonite is fairly configurable. You can tell it how much processor to use I think - when the user is active or inactive and restrict it's activity within time frames during the day.
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Author Comment

by:RickNCN
ID: 40619080
I removed Carbonite and Crashplan and it's still happening. The top disk user when it pegs is Trend WFBS server. I think it's downloading or handing out pattern files maybe. There is just no reason it should be sucking up 100% disk acttivity for long stretches of time. So the question still remains if there is an underlying disk problem exacerbating a disk intensive process. I have to get there after hours to run diags and will report back.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 40619360
ok then the 2 first one are in the ok
trend -  maybe uninstall-reinstall ? if only for testing ?
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Author Comment

by:RickNCN
ID: 40619446
yeah, maybe.
It's interesting, Trend has a utility that tracks high CPU usage on the Trend server. It identifies high CPU use and marks the process in red so you can make an exception for scanning in the software. The thing is, CPU usage is always quite low - 10-30% roughly so it never trips it. It's only disk activity that's high. I've got to run the Seagate disk tools. Plenty of people complain about these Seagate disks - they get pretty low ratings online. There are always two camps that say online ratings are bunk or they have value. I believe they have value and give you a feeling for the overall sentiment of a product. We should probably just order an SSD and be done with it.
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LVL 91

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 40620624
an SSD - that sounds like the best outcome; it will also give you anoticeable increase of  performance
as for reviews - i always think it's nearly always the guys with problems that post - but it's also the only thing you have to go on...
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Author Closing Comment

by:RickNCN
ID: 40635264
Thanks for all the help and suggestions:
D Johnson: 50 for being first and with helpful info about resource monitor
dlethe- 50  for good suggestion on adding a disk or getting a faster one
mcknife- 50 for sugg ssd and observation that the whole package taken as a whole affects the overall performance.
nobus- 300 for most comprehensive suggestions: ubcd, memtes, oem diagnostics, and sticking with the followup the longest

when I get a disk diag done I'll post back for future reference
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LVL 91

Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 40635604
i hope i was able to help
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