Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have noticed that disk activity is very high and I have been getting the spinning beach ball of death too. Does anyone have any ideas why or what I can do about it?

I am using Snow Leopard and used Activity Monitor to see the disk activity.

share|improve this question
Do you happen to have Skype installed and running? – Dave M Aug 25 '10 at 18:49
nope no skype installed – Imran Aug 25 '10 at 19:34
Is it possible to get a screenshot? Activity Monitor's graph for disk activity auto scales so it may be very low disk usage and it still looks "high". Have you run a check on your hard disk using Disk Utility? – Chealion Aug 26 '10 at 23:53

Could you be running out of RAM? You can check this in Activity Monitor, too. If you're short of RAM, memory could be being paged in and out (onto disk), slowing things down. The solution is to either install more RAM or run fewer programs at a time - are you running many when things go slow?

If it isn't RAM, it may be a particular program is doing lots of reading and writing - either intentionally (e.g. Photoshop used to use a scratch disk - I don't know if it still does) or unintentionally (e.g. trying to read and re-read a corrupt settings file). Is there a particular program that's always running when you have problems?

share|improve this answer
i just upgraded the ram from 2GB to 3GB so i dont think its the RAM – Imran Aug 25 '10 at 19:34

I wrote a script a while ago that lists the number of files every program has open. You can use it to see what program is doing all of the disk I/O.

#!/usr/bin/env python
import commands

lsof = commands.getoutput('lsof')
lsofs = lsof.split('\n')
proc = []
for x in lsofs:
    proc.append(x.split(' ')[0])

procc = {}
for x in proc:
        procc[x] = procc[x] + 1
    except KeyError:
        procc[x] = 1

procc = sorted(procc.items(), key = lambda(k,v):(v,k))

for x in iter(procc):
    print x[0] + ": " + str(x[1])
share|improve this answer
Mac OS X has dtrace installed and offers a near identical program; opensnoop. – Chealion Aug 26 '10 at 23:52

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.