Never-ending Disk Activity?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Amigalander, Mar 9, 2009.

  1. Amigalander macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2008
    For some strange reason, my early 2008 Mac Pro keeps making hard-drive access sounds / head-moving sounds. It's been doing it non stop for 3 days now. The sounds are short, about 3 per second, about as fast as you would read this: "grind grind grind" then a short half-second pause, then repeat. Sometimes there's a longer 1-2 second delay. But it almost always seems like triplets, "grind grind grind"

    I have no apps or background processes running that I've been able to discover. I've checked startup items, launch agents, and launch daemons.

    I've checked Activity monitor but I see nothing unusual, and no correlation with any cpu activity.

    I've checked disk utility and SMART is verified, permissions are repaired, and the disk is verified to be "OK."

    I've tried fs_usage, lsof, and top, and see no correlation to anything.

    I'm clearly missing something and am hoping someone can point out what it is? What else can I do to determine what the disk activity is doing? Are there any apps or other UNIX commands to check? Or is my drive dying?
  2. macz1 macrumors 6502


    Oct 28, 2007
    Have you tried a reboot of the system? This does sond more like a software related issue than a hardware failure... (although this behavior is almost normal for Windows, where the hard drive is used much more frequently for obscure reasons)
  3. Amigalander thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2008
    I've tried several reboots, but I suppose I should try a full power down. It almost sounds to me like it's constantly writing to a log file. So I checked Console for any clues, but again I see nothing suspicious.
  4. NoNameBrand macrumors 6502

    Nov 17, 2005
    Halifax, Canada
    I would proceed on the assumption that your drive is dying.

    Any chance you caused some temperature monitoring software to poll SMART very, very often?
  5. lostngone macrumors 65816


    Aug 11, 2003
    Bad HD

    Sounds like a bad HD, have you run any hardware diag tools?

    If you have the Apple developer tools you can run "Instruments" and load the File Activity template.

    Also SMART is a good thing to look at but some SMART errors are transitory and will clear with time so you need to run a tool like SMARTReporter that will check over and over.
  6. Abidubi macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2009
    Keep in mind if you've reinstalled the system and had a lot of stuff on the disk, spotlight needs to update it's references and takes quite a long time to do that. Recently I booted into 10.4 which I hadn't done in months, and the disk was reading 30MB/s for about 2 hours non stop.

    Not saying thats what it is, but it could be.
  7. Amigalander thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2008
    I booted into Windows, and the drive still made the same exact sound.
    I think my drive is about to die...
  8. Amigalander thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2008
    Thanks for the tips, although I couldn't figure out how to use Instruments. I'm using SMARTReporter (all green) and have 2 up-to-date backups. Just waiting for the inevitable now :(
  9. eelmac macrumors member

    Mar 9, 2009
    I don't think your Hard disk will die, not for sometime atleast, its actually common for them to make that noise, how ever its sounds like your getting them pretty often which i think is weird, my only suggestions are to buy a new hard drive and use your old one for say back up or deal with the issue until '**** happens' :(
  10. Amigalander thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2008
    Behavior is different today. The constant "grind grind grind" stopped, but now normal disk activity has a totally new scratchy tone.

    All these strange sounds and the disk is still mostly working... so weird.

    Now that I think about it, I realize the frequent beach-ball 2-3 second freezes must have been this drive. So it's been problematic for much longer than I thought. It's a Seagate 7200.11 -- the one with all the firmware drama.

    Regardless, I ordered a Western Digital today to replace it. I figured it's not worth a warranty exchange since it's not "dead" yet, and I'll likely just get a dubious refurb from the manufacturer.

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