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January 14, 2008 12:54 AM   Subscribe

Every night at 12:10AM, the brand new primary hard drive in my computer begins grinding away for a duration of 10-60 seconds. Why?

Observations:

1. It's a pronounced sound and fairly loud compared to normal drive seek noise, but doesn't sound mechanically destructive.

2. It occurs every night at 12:10AM on the dot.

3. It occurs regardless of how long the computer's been on.

4. It occurs whether I'm actively using the machine or not.

5. The machine performance seems unaffected by the process.

6. Examing both the running processes via Task Manager and the filesystem activity via sysinternals' Filemon reveals nothing untoward.

7. I don't have any automated tasks (e.g. virus scan, defrag, backup) running at that time.

8. This also occurred on my previous machine using a different operating system (Win2K Pro then; WinXP Pro now) and a different hard drive (though both drives were manufactured by Western Digital.)

Is this some sort of maintenance routine hardwired into the WD firmware? I've been meaning to Ask this question for quite some time, but I've generally forgotten by the time I finished doing whatever was interrupted by the grinding.
posted by Danelope to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
 
What version of what operating system are you running? If it's WinXP or Vista, it could be the search engine refreshing its database.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:29 AM on January 14, 2008


Google Desktop installed, or Microsoft indexing turned on? Did you ever answer "yes" to MS search prompting to make a search faster?

Definitely the above or Russian hackers are using your computer to as an IRC relay.
posted by mattoxic at 2:35 AM on January 14, 2008


You might want to check in the Event Viewer to see if anything is logged at that time.

You might also want to check the SMART log.
posted by grouse at 3:17 AM on January 14, 2008


cronjob?
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 5:11 AM on January 14, 2008


Google Desktop installed, or Microsoft indexing turned on?

Indexing is disabled, no Google Desktop or third-party programs that retrieve updates from the server. It occurs even when all applications are closed.

Definitely the above or Russian hackers are using your computer to as an IRC relay.

It starts happening on a clean XP install (and my old Win2K install) before the machine has ever been plugged into the network. Unless the Russian hackers shipped their rootkit on a legit XP Pro install disc (not necessarily outside the bounds of reality, I know) pwnage seems unlikely. There's no network activity at the time, either, and I'm running both hardware and software firewall which alerts me of any services requesting network access.

You might want to check in the Event Viewer to see if anything is logged at that time.

Gave it a look, nothing there at 12:10AM every day.

You might also want to check the SMART log.

I don't think it's hardware failure, since it's occurred with multiple drives, both of which are still functioning normally.

cronjob?

Running Windows, cron not installed.
posted by Danelope at 8:16 AM on January 14, 2008


I'm not saying that it's hardware failure. I'm saying that there might be something in the SMART self-test log that explains why this is happening every 24 hours. This is a way of investigating your hypothesis that the drive is doing maintenance.
posted by grouse at 8:30 AM on January 14, 2008


Some versions of Microsoft Office also set up a demon that indexes the disk.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:18 AM on January 14, 2008


Window Drive indexing?
posted by filmgeek at 9:21 AM on January 14, 2008


System Restore?

That is turned on by default in a XP install.
posted by mphuie at 10:21 AM on January 14, 2008


To rule out the drive itself, why not just run it in an unbooted state around that time? Leave the system in the BIOS menu or so.
posted by Freaky at 4:28 PM on January 14, 2008


I don't see any way it could be the drive itself. There's no clock in it, no way for it to know what time it is. It has to be something at the level of the operating system, and a few minutes after midnight strongly bespeaks of a "do it once a day" background operation.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:40 PM on January 14, 2008


Seconding the System Restore possibility. My System Restore waypoints are usually around midnight or a little after.
posted by subbes at 4:13 PM on January 15, 2008


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