External drive causing lag

By LukeDJ
Apr 2, 2013
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  1. Recently, whenever I plug in my WD My Passport 750gb external hard drive into my PC, I get a massive lag spike that lasts around 30 seconds (it basically freezes the computer). Although this is not a massive problem, it does get quite annoying, as I am often plugging and unplugging the drive from my system.

    You can check my specs on my profile, but basically, I would have thought that my rig could handle such a simple task without a hitch (I have an i5-3570K).

    I checked my CPU usage when I plug the drive in, and this is what I got:

    Hard Drive Spike.jpg

    One of my cores jumps to nearly 100%, and the others are unaffected, as well as memory usage.

    Is this what is causing the lag, and is this normal? I'm just curious, if anybody has a solution it would be greatly appreciated.

    Additional Information: I use the drive both as a backup for windows and for transporting large files (movies, music, photos etc) between PC's. It's around half full at the moment, and I'm using a USB 3.0 port (although the lag still occurs on 2.0 ports).
  2. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,081   +718

    I get this sometimes after using storage intensive apps and games. I recently experienced this after playing Planetside 2 for a few hours. My computer was really laggy and it was making me nervous. I am not sure how to help you here man, but I experience similar issues but not with an external HDD.
  3. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 3,190   +555

    Seems odd. Plugging the device in should just recognise it.

    I'd be looking at the actual drive and seeing if it has any stupid WD or similar software on it. Something that automatically backs up stuff, encrypts stuff, etc.
  4. LukeDJ

    LukeDJ TechSpot Addict Topic Starter Posts: 412   +109

    Hmmm, I decided to delete everything on the drive, including the stupid WD software (although that didn't seem to open or anything when I plug the drive in). Even whilst completely empty, I get the massive lag spike :mad: I re-did my backup (windows backup) and still no change.

    It's so weird the autoplay will open up, and then a few seconds later, BAM, the screen freezes for a second, and I get "chrome/windows explorer is not responding" on my windows, before the computer goes back to normal after around 8 seconds. I can access the drive all well, and the speeds seem to be fine.

    I'm stumped :confused:
  5. TheHawk

    TheHawk TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 186   +6

    Hey LukeDJ. Have you tried the drive on another pc, preferably a model with your OS and/or reasonably similar performance?
  6. Blkfx1

    Blkfx1 TechSpot Addict Posts: 865   +167

  7. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,081   +718

    Try reformatting it maybe.
  8. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 1,086   +154

  9. misor

    misor TechSpot Addict Posts: 748   +111

    I think the temporary cpu spike activity is caused by your antivirus resident shield activity.
    to test this, use external hdd against a "clean computer" without your antivirus or use your own i5-3570k computer with AV resident shield disabled for ~10 minutes or so.

    also, some external hdds have software backup utilities which automatically launch whenever a supported hardware is detected/inserted.
    you can disable this startup item and choose to launch the backup software manually.
  10. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,081   +718

    Some AV programs are configured to automatically scan the HDD when inserted. If it was a internal drive it wont do this, but it is a USB, so that may be normal depending on your AV.
  11. LukeDJ

    LukeDJ TechSpot Addict Topic Starter Posts: 412   +109

    misor Disabling my anti-virus didn't help, but it was worth a shot I guess :p

    Darth Shiv I updated the drivers, to no avail :(

    JC713 Is that worth a shot? And how do I go about doing that, I've never had to before. :confused:

    Blkfx1 I ran the test, and I got a fail on both the short and the (extremely) long generic test. So I guess that means that the drive is bad? I just find it strange that it handles file transfer perfectly ok, but still comes up as faulty, and has this one weird problem.

    I guess I'll try and get an RMA on it, unless anybody has any other suggestions.

    Anyways thanks for all the help guys :D
  12. Blkfx1

    Blkfx1 TechSpot Addict Posts: 865   +167

    Well, if it is failing tests, then it is probably dying. So, you will probably want to replace it.
  13. misor

    misor TechSpot Addict Posts: 748   +111

    LukeDJ, did you install any backup software which may automatically run whenever a supported hardware is plugged in?
     
  14. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,010   +218

    It's one of two services for removable devices
    1. your A/V product scanning newly mounted devices for your protection (highly recommended)
    2. the Windows Search indexer looking for new files
  15. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,081   +718

    +1. What AV are you using Luke?
  16. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 1,086   +154

    Can't see if you have tried this one yet?
  17. LukeDJ

    LukeDJ TechSpot Addict Topic Starter Posts: 412   +109

    Didn't see that one. The only other PC that I have around is my parents, which is pretty low end, cheapo amd athlon ii x2 245 build that's very slow. I when I plug the drive in, there is no noticeable lag or anything, so I guess that narrows it down to a computer problem.

    I'm using Microsoft security essentials, and I have tried disabling it when I plug the drive in, but that doesn't seem to make any difference . Is there another function of Microsoft SE that would scan the drive anyway?

    misor I'm using windows backup to back up my system using the drive, but it is set to backup daily at a certain time, and doesn't begin every time I plug the drive in.
  18. misor

    misor TechSpot Addict Posts: 748   +111

    With those info, I'm at a lost here. :)

    these are the frequent causes of "lag" as far as my experience tells me:
    1. autoplay function of windows 7 whenever an external device is plugged.
    2. autoscan of plugged external usb devices by antivirus but MSE does not have this.
    3. resident shield function of antivirus.
    4. backup software.
    5. failing hardware, low memory, low free hdd space, slow processor.
    6. malware; possibility because the problem is not reproducible in another computer.

    can you see any task process consuming large memory under task manager?
  19. LukeDJ

    LukeDJ TechSpot Addict Topic Starter Posts: 412   +109

    No, I could find no suspicious processes in task manager, most of them had descriptions and the ones that didn't, I googled to make sure they were not malware. I'm only using 2GB of my 8GB of memory, so that is unlikely to be the problem.

    Edit: I regularly scan my PC for malware with malwarebytes anti-malware.
  20. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,010   +218

    You can find the process causing the disturbance thusly:

    Start the TASKMGR, click the Process Tab, display processes from all users and the click the column name CPU twice to show highest to lowest cpu usage.

    Now plugin the external HD and the process causing the disturbance will soon be the first one listed.
  21. LukeDJ

    LukeDJ TechSpot Addict Topic Starter Posts: 412   +109

    Yep, I did that, listing the processes from highest to lowest, all users, made the window fullscreen, and plugged her in. I didn't see any processes appear above 2 MB of memory usage, and certainly nothing above 10 MB.
  22. LukeDJ

    LukeDJ TechSpot Addict Topic Starter Posts: 412   +109

    This is right after I plug the drive in

    Untitled.jpg
  23. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,010   +218

    Sort by CPU !!
    LukeDJ likes this.
  24. LukeDJ

    LukeDJ TechSpot Addict Topic Starter Posts: 412   +109

    Ahahaha, very sorry.

    Untitled.jpg
  25. LukeDJ

    LukeDJ TechSpot Addict Topic Starter Posts: 412   +109

    It seems VIA HD audio is spiking suddenly, why would that be happening?! I guess we've found the cause of the lag.


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