Why is my hard drive usage always so high?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by styxfan, Apr 23, 2009.

  1. styxfan macrumors member

    Apr 7, 2006
    There is some type of problem with my System.

    Macbook Pro
    Core2Duo 2.4 ghz 4MB L2 Cache
    4 gigs ram
    160 gig Segate 7200 RPM Hdd
    OSX 10.5.6

    My computer has been running incredibly slow lately. I think it has to do with the disk usage as every time it has to access the disk, it slows to a crawl. I've had a huge amount of beach balling, especially when loading a new App or a new page in Safari.

    Here is a picture of the disk usage. Does this look normal? Does anyone know what the problem could be?

  2. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Looks like you are running VMware Fusion. Does the system run faster if you kill it? Fusion could be using up a lot of RAM
  3. GamaFu macrumors regular

    Apr 12, 2007
    You seem to keep too many processes running at the same time, judging by the size of the scroll bar. In order to troubleshooting, it would be better if we can narrow down the possibility that could slow down your computer. Try to quit programs you're not currently using. For example, if you're not currently using QuickTime Player or Preview, then quit it instead of hide it. If you hide it, it will still run in the background and occupy the system memory. Keep this a habit, try to quit it, not hide it when you're done with the program.

    Can you look at the System Memory in Activity Monitor? How much free space do you still have? If too many processes are active at the same time, computer could possibly run out of memory. If that happens, then it will use hard drive as virtual memory, but HD is much slower than RAM. It could explain why your disk usage is always high. Let us know once you look at it.

    Also, after having your mac for a while, you might have many software currently installed. Some of them will automatically run when you log in to OS, but many of them "might" be unnecessary. Some will just waste the memory and slow down your system but not doing much. You can edit them in System Preference -> Accounts -> Login Items. However, if you don't exactly know what the entry in the list is for, google it first or ask us here before you delete it.
  4. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    That number of processes is not high at all. I've just checked mine and I have more while only running Safari, Adium, Skype, Mail, Dictionary, uTorrent and iTunes.
  5. dcubed20 macrumors member

    Jan 21, 2008
    If your system crawls or freezes upon hard drive access, your hard drive is probably on its way out.
  6. darkcurse macrumors 6502a


    Nov 5, 2005
    High "disk usage" could mean that you've run out of RAM and OSX is using virtual memory. Try one of two things

    1) Restarting your computer
    2) Closing some programs or modify VMWare to take no more than 1GB of RAM
  7. GamaFu macrumors regular

    Apr 12, 2007
    It's not? I only have 22 running, but notice the OP's Activity Monitor' scroll bar size, it's much smaller than mine, meaning there are a lot more items below. There are 16 entries in that picture he took. The Scrollable bar is about 1 / 4 the size the whole bar. It would mean he currently has 16 * 4 = 64 processes active. Not high at all?? :confused:

    Let's do a simple approximation, let's say in average, every process uses 50 MB of RAM (which is most likely an underestimation), that would mean 3200 MB in total, around 3 GB. His MacBook Pro has 4 GB in total meaning only 1 GB left. However, as you can see, many of them actually use a lot more than 50 MB....
  8. apfhex macrumors 68030


    Aug 8, 2006
    Northern California
    I would also say that does not look like a high number of processes. But it depends on what those processes are, what they are doing. It does sound most likely that the OP is running out of free RAM and the virtual memory is causing lots of disk access, although with 4GB of RAM that seems unusual. Fusion could be the culprit though.

    Actually only 10 are above 50MB, the rest are much lower (and there are tons of system processes that use only a few MB or less).
  9. styxfan thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 7, 2006
    Thanks for replying guys.

    VMWare was opened, but Windows was not launched. The same thing happens whether VMWare is running or not.

    System Memory

    1.8 gigs Free
    575 Wired
    903 Active
    778 InActive

    I had 63 Processes running at the time (although most of them use like no ram/ cpu/ hdd cycles)

    12 of them used less than 1 meg of ram
    29 Used less than 5 megs of tam.

    The same thing happens right after restart too.

    It seems like any time I need to access the hdd, the system slows down horribly.

    I guess I should just reinstall OSX and see if that fixes it. I already restored a cloned version of my system and that didn't help.

    Any other ideas before I have to reinstall?
  10. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    1.8 Gigabytes free means you have plenty of RAM. Looks like you didn't give VMWare very much memory; that could be a problem if you are running Windows. I might be wrong there, but if you gave VMWare only 256 MB, then maybe you should increase that.

    The disk usage graphics didn't look bad at all to me. There were occasional writes with a peak of 2.70 MB/sec, that would be normal if you are just downloading things over a good internet connection. Take a look at CPU usage, but that would have to be close to 2 x 100 percent to slow your Mac down.

    Just repeating what one poster said very wisely: If your hard drive is not Ok, that will often first show itself by slowing down your computer. Your computer reads the hard drive all the time, that is normal. If you notice it, that is not normal. If you don't have an external drive for Time Machine backups, now is the time to buy one.
  11. jzuena macrumors 6502a


    Feb 21, 2007
    Lexington, MA, USA
    I see that one of your running processes is Transmission. Are you sharing a large directory to BitTorrent users? Maybe that is what is causing all of the disk activity?
  12. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Looks like he was just downloading some stuff, but 2.7 MB per second is so little, you shouldn't notice it at all.
  13. TheNightPhoenix macrumors 6502

    Dec 16, 2005
    Strange question... how come your activity monitor looks nothing like mine? Are you running snow leopard?
  14. styxfan thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 7, 2006
    Transmission was just downloading some very small Linux stuff. I don't think I was uploading anything.

    I've allocated 1.5 gigs of ram for VMware, but it only uses it if Windows is booted. I normally dont' have Windows booted and I didn't have it booted in the picture I took, I just had VMWare up.

    I'm really starting to worry about my hdd going bad. I have 2 time machine backups, so I know I won't lose any data. I also have AppleCare, so I know I wont' be charged if it does go out.

    I have no clue why my Activity Monitor looks different than yours. I am running 10.5.6
  15. lopoz macrumors regular

    May 10, 2005
    He's running a theme called iLeopard (probably)

    You can apply themes to Leopard by using e.g. Magnifique

    On topic:
    I don't think it's the amount of processes that you have running, as right now I'm running 73 processes and have no problems at all..
    'Fraid your HD might be giving in.. Have you tried to check the S.M.A.R.T. status of the drive? You can do so by using e.g. OnyX

    [edit] could also be iTunesque, check the Magnifique themes to find it
  16. styxfan thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 7, 2006

    Yep, I have ILeopard installed. It's a great theme.

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