Computer: Browsing: Unwanted Feature
"Why the hell is my hard drive being accessed?"   (+25, -1)  [vote for, against]

Sometimes when I go to a new web page my hard drive makes that "I'm being accessed" noise - sometimes other drives seem to be accessed too. There's a load of perfectly reasonable explanations (looking for plugins, cookies, updating cookies, history files, etc.) and some less innocent explanations. What I want is for my browser to tell me (perhaps in the status bar) what it's just allowed the web page to do.
-- hippo, Feb 19 2006

(???) System Internals - Handy tools http://www.sysinter...dDiskUtilities.html
Packet Mon (for network activity), Filemon (Filesys) and RegMon (Registry) as well as someother stuff [Dub, Feb 19 2006]

[Amos Kito, Feb 20 2006]

Simple, robust, transparent computing? [spidermother, Feb 20 2006]

It would also be nice if Windows Task Manager told you which services/apps were reading/writing to disk.
-- wagster, Feb 19 2006

Uh, no, trust me, the days when we were fully in control of our computer hardware are gone forever. Even computer programmers can no longer be sure of what is going on under the hood.
-- DrCurry, Feb 19 2006

I got this hilarious (or not so, for the user) error message.

It said "Your computer has been updated. It must be restarted before changes take effect. Do you wish to restart?"

And then it had the yes/no buttons, only... the No button was greyed out.
-- DesertFox, Feb 19 2006

DF, one of my favourites is (during the DOS bootup thingy) no keyboard has been detected. Press delete to continue startup (or something like that).

Also the multitude of users who phone in looking for the 'any' key.
-- dbmag9, Feb 19 2006

If a virus were invading, it would probably be easy to make your computer display a false explanation.
-- pawolfson, Feb 19 2006

Handy [Linky] - O/T even the ancient BBC Micro's OS (MOS) had a neat feature that you could turn on that allowed you to log file activity built into the OS.
-- Dub, Feb 19 2006

One of the joys of programming the Atari 2600--you get to account for every single cycle of what the CPU is doing. No surprise interrupts, no cycle-stealing for DMA, or anything.

Of course, one of the challenges of programming for the Atari 2600 is that the processor on that machine has to do practically EVERYTHING--even generating the vertical sync! If you want to position one of the player objects 2/3 of the way across the screen, you have to wait until the electron beam is 2/3 of the way across the screen and store a byte to its "reset address". Fortunately, the machine has a processor running at a blazing fast 1.19MHz (faster than an Apple or Commodore!) to accomplish all that.
-- supercat, Feb 20 2006

I just want the thing to work. In fact, removing all indications of HD access would be fine. There's so much housekeeping and bg task stuff going on that it just doesn't matter as it's not really human interpretable anymore and I think that's just fine.

For those who are doing diagnostic work or systems programming, I can see having instrumentation or fine grained logging but for nearly everyone it just doesn't really matter.
-- bristolz, Feb 20 2006

This can be done in VMS, though the feature is undocumented and unsupported. It wouldn't suprise me to see it available for NTFS some day, as NTFS is really just a glorified version of ODS-II. It just needs to be ported, er, and integrated with your browser. I think of this as something we lost along the way.
-- Shz, Feb 20 2006

//fine grained logging// bristolz + jutta - pictures fields of swaying twigs being carefully felled by workers on their hands and knees, wielding microscopic chainsaws.... you all need to get out more.
-- xenzag, Feb 20 2006

Damn you, Jutta. Now you're making me think.
-- bristolz, Feb 20 2006

well then, an idiots + for that!
-- po, Feb 20 2006

Hard drive access logs would probably be pretty cryptic. There are so many subprograms under the System category. Accessing the harddrive from outside the computer is another issue. I set up the mac to wirelessly copy files from the PC, then went to the PC and tried to learn if another computer was accessing it. No luck. Especially with all the networks now, I think it would be good to have a flashing light on the desktop notifying you that an outside entity is present.
-- bungston, Feb 21 2006

No, a great big revolving red light, placed atop the monitor. And a klaxon.
-- calum, Feb 21 2006

//I've activated a popup blocker that notifies with a "post-it" whenever it stops a popup from propagating//

Now there's irony. A pop-up blocker that generates a pop-up every time it blocks a pop-up. I like it!
-- DrBob, Feb 21 2006

(-: "Your computer is under attack --- Have a nice day" :-)
-- reensure, Feb 21 2006

Heh, there's a tool to list open files, lsof, on some operating systems but the output requires heavy filtering to be of use. I'm using a rather cut-down install of Linux, it barely qualifies as a desktop OS (which is just the way I like it, I don't like desktop cruft), but I ran lsof just now and it reported 990 open files! The computer's not even doing anything, there's a couple of text editor windows open, a couple of shell windows, and a web browser. The browser isn't even the biggest user, the 3 text editor windows account for 242 files between them, although I suppose that is "only" 80-ish files each. The browser uses 238, and the shell windows 205, which I can't quite believe. :) Then again, I did pick the shell window program for it's shininess rather than it's "lack of cruft".

I expect a monitor applet could be made that watches the open file list & reports changes in the files opened by the web browser. I'm not entirely sure I'd want to watch the list, it would probably still need more filtering or processing or clever parsing to be useful.
-- eekee, Jul 09 2007

Everyone who posted annotations along the lines of "Computers are way too complicated now and do too much stuff to be able to analyse why the Hard Drive is being accessed" are, of course, right, but have not quite read my idea. If you read it you'll see that I want to know (for security reasons) why a web browser (or some process a browser has spawned or is running) has accessed the Hard Drive.
-- hippo, Jul 09 2007

What if it says: "Your hard drive is busy because computer is accessing the program that tells you what your hard drive is doing" ?
-- doctorremulac3, Jul 09 2007

It'll have an Heisenberg-filter built in.
-- Dub, Jul 10 2007

I hope somebody writes a program to accomplish this, this is a great idea. [+] it should be able to do both, tell you what your browser is accessing, and what any other program is. Of course you would be able to isolate any program. Id buy it.
-- evilpenguin, Jul 10 2007

random, halfbakery