What is 'spinning up' my netbooks hd?

By SNGX1275 ยท 11 replies
Mar 18, 2010
  1. I've been confused by this for about 3 months now, I hope I'm overlooking something simple, but I don't think I am.

    I have an Acer Aspire One (D250-1197) with Windows 7 Starter and I hear a noise which sounds to me like the hard drive is spinning up (almost more sounds like a cd/dvd rom revving up). It does this at seemingly random times, I was watching a movie a couple days ago on the tv and had the netbook in front of me and kept track of the times it made that noise - 10 times in an hour and a half. I am pretty certain its the hard drive because, well, nothing else in the machine spins, and the hd activity light comes on immediately after I hear the noise.

    Now, I have tried to watch what is going on through task manager and I have not noticed any pattern (actually nothing consistently spikes cpu usage at all). So after not noticing anything in task manager I tried resource monitor and looked at the disk activity - again nothing stick out. I've watched both of those things for probably an hour over various days attempting to figure this out.

    I considered that (with the thoughts of Rick in IRC) potentially the netbook has some hardware/bios level control over the hard drive to conserve battery. I don't believe that is the case because I have a dual boot set up with Ubuntu 8.04 and do not have the 'spin up' issue in Ubuntu.

    The reason I've called it a 'spin up' with quotes is I don't believe the hard drive ever shuts down, I never hear the classic noise you expect to hear from a hard drive shutting down. I was also watching the NCAA basketball tournament games tonight and I heard it do it, streaming the games should keep some I/O going to the HD so it should never shut down.

    I've of course checked the power management settings to tell the drive not to shut down.

    My girlfriend also has the same netbook with Win 7 Starter and her's does it too, although it doesn't seem as frequent.

    Another random thought is that the issue still occurs in safe mode..
  2. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,036   +2,558

    There tends to be a bit of "inexplicable" (to me at least) software in notebooks. My Toshiba has services running installed by Toshiba, that are puzzling at best. Is it possible that Acer software is, at least in part, responsible for power management, beyond or over that in Windows itself? either that or it's the fan and it sounds like the HDD.
  3. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Topic Starter Posts: 10,742   +422

    I considered that it was a fan, but the hd activity light on the netbook itself lights up immediately after (like say .1s later) I hear it. I'll have to try and boot it in safe mode and look and see if any acer processes are running...

    Another bit of evidence that the hd should be active before this happens is that I hear this when I'm browsing the web too, that I know requires a bit of IO to the hd.

    Edit: Just booted it into safe mode and waited for a while while watching the Disk tab in resource monitor. Before the noise, the tab was void of any entries. Once I heard the noise, looked at the netbook screen, and about 2 seconds later System showed up in the "Processes with Disk Activity" section with a 254,xxx B/sec read. Now compared to everything else that eventually appears there after idling, 254k is pretty large, but in the real scheme of things a 254k read shouldn't be a big deal.

    The sound is like "bzz, whirr" where the whirr sounds very much like a spinning up hd, the bzz part is almost like a vibration against plastic.

    Edit 2: Just did it again, and this time instead of a delay and System showing up there was a delay and then Explorer showing up.

    I'm beginning to think that this isn't a installed software or hardware related issue, and it is instead a Windows 7 issue.
  4. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,036   +2,558

    I've noticed HDD activity with Win 7, that doesn't relate to anything I'm doing either. Sort of odd, like "what's it doing that for", kind of light flashing. But this is in a desk top, so no collateral "whirr" nonsense.

    Actually that sort of thing freaks me out, I always think the worst, like it's trying to spam the world as it were.
  5. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,177   +990

    hmm; Recall the boot process when every PC had a floppy -- wierd sound from the empty A drive and then progress on to access the HD.

    If any software polls the list of drive letters ( mapped drives, cd, dvd, usb), it will 'activate' any
    dormant device even if nothing is loaded.

    My cd is left empty and opening and closing the tray causes a test to see if something was
    inserted -- does that fit your case? are you certain it's the HD access and not the cd?
  6. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Topic Starter Posts: 10,742   +422

    No cd drive..

    If I could find a place quiet enough I'd consider recording a video of it happening, but I'm not real sure what it could tell anyone that I haven't already said. There is a possibility it is some fan going to high rpm from a lower rpm, but the hd activity light is what keeps me coming back to that. Just odd I can't seem to view what is causing it by monitoring disk activity or cpu usage.

    Edit: Just thought of this, another line of evidence that it isn't a fan is that when it happens there is a lag in whatever I'm doing at the time. If I'm typing I can usually type out 2 or 3 more words before it actually gets them displayed on screen. There isn't a lag in the streaming video, but I bet if I was typing when that happens it would still lag.
  7. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,477   +126

    I use both ASUS Eee PC 1005HAxx and Acer Aspire One D250xx recently purchased. A few months now. Both run the same OS Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit. I've upgrade the RAM to 2GB and I use ReadyBoost on 4GB SDHC Class (4). I now OC them well the ASUS uses ESHE at Super Performance and Advance System Care Pro with Turbo Boost on. I can disable background system resources that rob memory. The Atom CPU runs hot though. The HDD on both don't make any noises.Of course running the extra's does rob me battery life but the ASUS running over 1.67MHz doing so. If I don't do these exras I can get 4 hrs out of a 3 Cell and with the stuff on it's only 2 hrs.

    Video lag is not as bad as before. I am not a fan of Intel GMA graphics. But I am able to run Java Games on Face Book at the normal rate. Look at online video without issues. Now. These Atom run at lower clock speeds, but you can over ride that though.

    Right now I am typing this on the ASUS Eee PC... Netbook under Google Chrome Browser!
  8. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    A couple possibilities: Windows indexing and some A/V scanners decide to run when the system is otherwise inactive (and would cause your disk to spin up)

    /* edit */
    I'm guessing other indexing (e.g. Google desktop) also run when system is otherwise idle

    /* EDIT 2! */
    Ooops. I thought you said it did not happen in safe mode. But I just re-read the first paragraph. So as Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say "Oh. Never mind"! :D
  9. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,036   +2,558

    Wow, I'll bet writing that mouthful made your hard drive spin around quite a bit. I thought Gilda Radnor just knew how to say that, and it couldn't actually be spelled or written down. :confused:
  10. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    I'll fess up. I had to google it to find the right spelling!
  11. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,036   +2,558

    I'm still in awe. Now ever so slightly mitigated awe, but awe nonetheless....! Insert >> "awe" << smiley here.
  12. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,477   +126


    Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit

    High Power if plugin to AC
    Balance if running DC

    Windows 7 Firewall, UA, MSE, Google Chrome

    Keep it tidy
    IOBIT Advance System Care (Free or Pro)
    IOBIT Smart Defrag
    IOBIT Smart RAM
    IOBIT Turbo Boost

    Turn off System Restore (this one and it's buddy below always runs in the background)
    Turn off (Offline Files)
    Couple of network tweaks to improve wireless
    Power tweaks turn the LED LCD panel to mid-way.

    That's all I run on the netbooks, oh yeah Office 2007.

    For those who don't like IOBIT you got some free bees like Tweak Power Pack 2009 or pay for Tune-up Utilities 2010.
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