Very strange HDD activity and FAN behaviour

Jun 14, 2018
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Hi everyone, long time reader, but posting for the first time. I have posted this on the Storage section of the forum but thought to share this here as I find it could be more related to this topic as well.

I have a very strange problem and being an IT manager for a long time, it is the first time I'm experiencing such confusing issue.

Let me very briefly say that as a network engineer I have tried all kinds of tools to pin point the problem but I don't know what is happening to a laptop I'm working on.

The problem began suddenly couple of weeks ago, I was just surfing online and doing usual stuff like checking emails and so on. Suddenly I heard the unusual HDD activity noise coming from laptop without the HDD activity light LED shows anything. The LED is working fine though as when I access any file on the disk it clearly and accurately blinks.

And that is not the whole story, when this HDD activity noise is coming, the Fan begins to behave weirdly as well; it goes to full speed and then slows and just behaves very chaotically without any apparent reason. I have opened the laptop and cleaned the fans which did not help, then replaced the fans with brand new ones (on a Asus ROG G74S and it's horrible cooling design, it's a pain in the Ar$e to get access to the fans...). None of these helped a bit.

I then thought maybe there are problems with the HDD itself, I did a through checkdisk and it shows everything is fine, S.M.A.R.T shows nothing unusual either. HWINFO also shows nothing and many other HDD activity indicator apps that I use also DO NOT show any unusual activity when the laptop is idle/busy. However, this very mysterious HDD activity noise (remember LED does not blink when I hear that certain HDD activity noise begins) is still there does not matter if the laptop is idle or not, it just randomly begins for hours and for some reasons causes the fans to go crazy as well.

I then began monitoring the HDD with all kinds of tools, mostly MS Sysinternals to see if any process or perhaps viruses are active in the background. I have checked every single one of the processes on windows one by one for viruses or malwares but all seem to be ok. I kept monitoring the HDD, Registry, Processes and Network activity through the MS Sysinternals Process Monitor, but I see no suspicious activity in all of those huge logs... Just normal windows process alongside other apps I use everyday.

I also checked for rootkits by Kaspersky Internet Security and couple of other well known scanners and they also did not found anything.

Again the most confusing part is the HDD activity sound without LED (or any HDD activity apps I use) showing anything! And when it causes the fans to go crazy (they go fast and slow all the time then this unusual activity begins). I then checked the CPU and GPU temp and they are both working in ideal temperature (38~58 degree). I then checked the HDD through another laptop and independently through a hard drive docking station we have here and it works perfectly fine as well.

I'm suspecting maybe something happened to the bios for some reason, and for some reasons unknown to me it is causing all sorts of HDD controller problems? So I updated the bios to the latest version (v. 205) but it's still the same... What I don't get is the relation between fan going crazy and this *seemingly* hdd activity? Or maybe there is a problem with the motherboard? I could perhaps disassemble the laotop and go nuts on the motherboard discrete parts but I highly doubt the problem is lying there to be honest...

Has anyone experienced such suspicious/mysterious HDD problem before? Let me emphasis that because I work in a law firm and as a security specialist I always monitor all running processes for suspicious activities and/or security problems. I always keep monitoring the network activity, open ports and do the vulnerability scanning every week...

I would appreciate any input by anyone, thanks.

-Ma'an
 

Sohom

Prominent
Mar 6, 2017
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Ok, first of all disable Link Power Management through the bios or Intel Rapid storage technology software. See if it helps.
And also would like to know the make, model no. of the laptop...
 
Jun 14, 2018
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It is a Asus G74s ROG laptop (250g Liteon ssd, 750g 5200 hdd, 16g ram, Geforce GTX 560m, etc...). I already checked and there is no such option for the LPM in the Bios, and I don't have the Intel Rapid Storage installed on my laptop, and neither was among the preinstalled apps on the laptop. The laptop is a 2012 model but works fine as I only use it for coding and sometimes also as music production workstation (DAWs).
 

Sohom

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Mar 6, 2017
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Ok, go to the asus website and download the IRST driver for this particular laptop and install it. And what power management profile are you using?
Change the power plan to high performance, disable any asus power management profiles or utility.
 
Jun 14, 2018
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As I use it for music production it is already on high performance profile. I actually customised the settings years ago and disabled all the power limitations, and there is absolutely no Asus power management involved. And regarding the IRST driver, this laptop does not have such thing under it's Drivers section on Asus website. Just the Intel INF Driver which I already installed (latest version is from 2011).
 

Sohom

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Mar 6, 2017
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During that hdd suspicious activity, does task manager show any kind of activity?
Its very strange to do that without showing any usage info in task manager or led activity light.
The only other thing i can think about is if it did start after any windows update, which has known to cause issues on many pc's after the recent major updates.

Are you using windows 10 or windows 7?
 
Jun 14, 2018
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That is exactly why I'm saying this is as mysterious as it gets man... Please read the parts in my first post where I explained that I checked EVERY single process, hdd, registry, network and all the other activities are being monitored constantly on separate monitor through the MS Sysinternals Process Monitor in real time! When such certain HDD activity begins, the HDD LED light indicator does not show anything, the Process Monitor does not show any unusual activity either!

And Windows update is disabled on this laptop as again for music production I have had horrid experience with updates so I totally disabled it couple of months ago. Honestly I don't know either, right now that I'm writing this, this HDD activity noise just began which seemingly means HDD is under stress of some sort or something! But LED does not who anything, and right now I'm watching the HDD indicator in Process Monitor and it just shows normal Disk Access activities, nothing unusual!
 
MERGED QUESTION
Question from silenceborn : "Very strange HDD activity and FAN behaviour"



if the issue was just the hard drive i would point to the controller on the drive is heading south. see if vendor test tools could pick it up. but with the fan going full speed it sounds like a power or signal issue on the system. check the power brick make sure it holding...or try a new brick. make sure the power plug on the laptop not lose.. if there fine then you may have to send it in under warranty rma for the vendor to replace the system board/check for bad signal or failing part on the logic board. one issue is if the hardd rive controller is failing and pulling more power then it should it may be causing the mb sata chipet/control chipset to lock up/reboot under load.
 
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