Frequent Spin-up of External FireWire Hard Drives?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Tom Dahl, May 6, 2009.

  1. Tom Dahl macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Location:
    Massachusetts USA
    #1
    I have some iMacs (running 10.5.6) each with an external direct-connect FireWire hard drive. About every ten minutes, these drives will spin up for a minute or two, then spin down again. I'd like to know why! Can anyone help to explain what is using the drives, or how I might check?

    Background: The drives are set as Time Machine backup volumes on their respective iMacs. I assume the frequent accesses I observer are not related to Time Machine (because the accesses are much more frequent than the hourly backup schedule). The drives are not remote-mounted anywhere.

    In System Preferences I have the check-box enabled to "put hard disks to sleep when possible." I am very tempted to turn that off, because I'm worried about the stress being caused by spinning up and down these drives multiple times per hour.
     
  2. CrArC macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
    #2
    Spinning drives up/down can arguably cause more wear than just leaving them running, I suppose. Are these drives being indexed? I have a drive that also spins up and down, although not this often.
     
  3. Scratchen macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2009
    #3
    I also have this issue with my two external (USB2) WD-drives. Would like to know why too.
     
  4. Tom Dahl thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Location:
    Massachusetts USA
    #4
    Beat's me. As far as I'm aware, the only application which explicitly knows about the drive is Time Machine. I don't know what OS X's Spotlight-related software does, in terms of periodic scans.
     
  5. gwerhart0800 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2008
    Location:
    Loveland, CO
    #5
    It's spotlight ...

    If you want the drives to be indexed by spotlight, then they will get spun up periodically to get checked for changes. Otherwise, go to System Preferences->Spotlight->Privacy (tab) and add the FW drives to the list of places that Spotlight should not search.
     
  6. mzd macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2005
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    #6
    thanks, i'll try that. my external is only used for time machine, but even when time machine isn't backing up, the drive spins up pretty frequently, as others have mentioned.
     
  7. Tom Dahl thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Location:
    Massachusetts USA
    #7
    Thanks, I've just done the above. Hopefully that will eliminate the "mystery" accesses to the external drives. Much appreciated!
     
  8. dubhe macrumors 65816

    dubhe

    Joined:
    May 1, 2007
    Location:
    Norwich, UK
    #8
    I notice it whenever I go to save a file, even though I am not using the external disc, Finder seems to want to spin it up anyway.
     
  9. RichardI macrumors 6502a

    RichardI

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2007
    Location:
    Southern Ontario, Canada
    #9
    I have an external FW800 HDD that I use to back up my HD every week (NOT using Time Machine). That's all I use it for, so when I'm not backing up, I shut it off - literally. After my weekly back-up, I unmount the drive, then unplug it from my iMac, then I switch it off. Voila! silence....:p

    Rich :cool:
     
  10. Tom Dahl thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Location:
    Massachusetts USA
    #10
    An update: I've had the spotlight search disabled on the external FireWire drive for a couple of days now, and I still see the drive spun up every ten or fifteen minutes. So apparently it is not Spotlight's activity accessing the drive; I wish I knew what was doing it.
     
  11. mstam macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2009
    #11
    sudo lsof -r /dev/diskXsY where X is the drive number and Y the partition (can be found in disk utility - Information - Disk Identifier)
     
  12. Tom Dahl thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Location:
    Massachusetts USA
    #12
    Thank you for the lsof command. Some files seem to be open all the time; it seems that there are touches in three categories: Backups, Spotlight, and fseventsd.

    Here are the extra files open when the FireWire volume spins up:

    mds 47 root txt REG 14,5 2731 149 /Volumes/Lois/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V1/Stores/F6FD485C-03E3-4CF2-8A04-C3377B75139E/0.indexGroups
    mds 47 root txt REG 14,5 8 188 /Volumes/Lois/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V1/Stores/F6FD485C-03E3-4CF2-8A04-C3377B75139E/0.indexCompactDirectory
    mds 47 root txt REG 14,5 2056 187 /Volumes/Lois/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V1/Stores/F6FD485C-03E3-4CF2-8A04-C3377B75139E/0.indexDirectory
    mds 47 root txt REG 14,5 32768 148 /Volumes/Lois/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V1/Stores/F6FD485C-03E3-4CF2-8A04-C3377B75139E/0.indexIds
    mds 47 root txt REG 14,5 32768 166 /Volumes/Lois/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V1/Stores/F6FD485C-03E3-4CF2-8A04-C3377B75139E/live.0.indexCompactDirectory
    mds 47 root txt REG 14,5 131584 165 /Volumes/Lois/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V1/Stores/F6FD485C-03E3-4CF2-8A04-C3377B75139E/live.0.indexDirectory
    mds 47 root txt REG 14,5 349526 160 /Volumes/Lois/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V1/Stores/F6FD485C-03E3-4CF2-8A04-C3377B75139E/live.0.indexGroups
    mds 47 root txt REG 14,5 4194304 159 /Volumes/Lois/.Spotlight-V100/Store-V1/Stores/F6FD485C-03E3-4CF2-8A04-C3377B75139E/live.0.indexIds

    I have added the volume to Spotlight's Privacy tab, so I don't know why Spotlight is touching it. Might I need to reboot?
     
  13. RemarkabLee macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    #13
    Try:
    killall Spotlight
    (to restart Spotlight)
     

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