GBM How-To Series #25 : Drive Activity Monitor Setup

gbm_howto_1This how-to hits close to home. Do you own a UMPC such an my OQO Model-02 that does not have a disk activity LED? If you are like me, occasionally I find myself asking why couldn’t manufacturers find a location for and install a 20 cent LED? We all have times when for a variety of reasons we would like that visual queue. It’s reassuring sometimes isn’t it?  I was recently installing a piece of software for demo on my OQO when I could not tell if the program had locked up, or if I was just impatient. Turned out that several CTL+ALT+Deletes later, I was just being impatient. Today’s How-To will walk you through setup of a neat utility (an oldie but it still works in Vista (yea!) , XP, and even W2K). Check this out…

GBM How-To Series #25: Drive Activity Monitor Setup




First step, go to (you will get a re-direct to the Microsoft TechNet site by Mark Russinovich) and download the DiskMon Disk Light application package. To do this, select from the site , File and Disk Utilities, then DiskMon. Download and extract the contents to a folder on your system. Or just click here!





Next, navigate to the folder where you extracted the files. Right-Click on the diskmon.exe application file and select Run as Administrator. Note, on Vista, you must run as the Administrator if you have UAC activated. I could not get it to work otherwise. Missing as well was the ability to select different drives. As it is, only the first physical drive is monitored.





Once you have the program loaded, You can set the program to capture the HDD events to a log file. Options include the ability to configure how the log is displayed such as Font, History Depth, Scrolling, etc. But my favorite one is Minimize to Tray Disk Light which as this features name implies, reduces the program to the system tray with color coded indicators for drive activity. This feature is very helpful while supporting SBS and Windows 2K3 servers by Terminal Services.

Red indicates disk write activity, Green is for read activity, and Clear is of course for no activity.


Now, a couple of notes….


I would not set this application to run at startup, but for those times when you need to know what’s going on, if anything, it works pretty good. It would be great if it were updated to directly support Visa. For that matter, wouldn’t it be nice if something like this were a feature in Vista? Yes, this application is getting a bit long in the tooth (old), it’s interface is outdated as well, and yes there are other sidebar gadgets, and for pay programs out there that do the same thing; but I like this one because I can carry it on a thumb drive and run it on lots of different systems as a temporary indicator when I do not have a drive light available, or I am connecting to a server via terminal services.