External hard drive accessed when no processes running

November 15, 2008

For some months now, my husband’s external hard drive would occasionally start making noises like it was processing something, even when he wasn’t at the machine and had no programs open or scheduled.

Today, we found out what it was. Windows Indexing was turned on for some of the folders on that external hard drive. When we exited the Indexing (right-click on the magnifying glass icon in the system tray and select Exit Index), the noises stopped immediately.

Then I went to Control Panel > Indexing Options on his Windows XP machine and saw that a whole lot of the external hard drive’s folders were selected. I then clicked Modify and deselected all those folders.

I’m not sure what ramifications this will have for the speed of accessing those files via Windows Explorer, but at least we know what was causing the sound!

(I also did a bit of searching on Google and found that you can disable the indexing for a particular drive or folder. For details, see

If the indexing keeps starting again on rebooting, the service is probably starting automatically. To turn it off:

  1. Go to Start > Run.
  2. Type services.msc, then click OK.
  3. Right-click on the Windows Search service, then select Properties.
  4. Change the Startup Type to Disabled.
  5. Click OK, then close the Services window.

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