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I can hear my hard disk reading or writing for long periods of time (20+ seconds) at some time after monitors are shut down due to inactivity.

Sometimes it's not just when I am away.

How do I find out what's writing to the disk and how to stop it?

I have tried with iotop but activity stops by the time monitors turn on and I type sudo iotop. And even when it continues, iotop doesn't really report much, it's as if it doesn't catch most of it.

I have a few partitions that are on windows NTFS. Maybe iotop doesn't work on windows NTFS?

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Use atop. it stores historical data and per-process IO data.

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