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When the HDD indicator is blinking (for a long period), how could I know which process is taking most disk bandwidth?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Using iotop.

Iotop is a Python program with a top like UI used to show of behalf of which process is the I/O going on. It requires Python ≥ 2.5 (or Python ≥ 2.4 with the ctypes module) and a Linux kernel ≥ 2.6.20 with the TASK_DELAY_ACCT CONFIG_TASKSTATS, TASK_IO_ACCOUNTING and CONFIG_VM_EVENT_COUNTERS options on.

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As well as iotop, you can also use iostat.

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