Casey Bralla on 12 Dec 2011 17:31:20 -0800

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[PLUG] Solved! What Files Are Open Over Time?

This is a follow-up to the query I posted a month or so ago. I was considering getting a SSD to speed up my system, and wondered which directories I should load on the SSD. Obviously, you have to store frequently used files on the SSD in order to have any type of meaningful impact on system performance.


So my question was, "How can you tell what files are accessed during normal use over time?"


I finally found the answer, and it was under my nose the whole time. The program "iotop" shows which programs are accessing the file systems, just like "top" shows info about processes in memory. iotop has an "accumulated" mode that logs all the access and builds a table of the total bytes of traffic by each process. If left running for an extended period, it totals all the I/O by process.


It doesn't actually record the particular filenames, but it lists the processes doing the I/O, so it's pretty simple to figure out where the accessed files are stored.



And what did I find from running this? I found tht I should save my money and NOT buy a SSD. Since I have 8 GBytes of RAM, and usually leave my computer on, it does very few disk accesses of any size. The biggest user of disks during normal desktop use was Firefox, and that was only a few megabytes. Other than that, the only appreciable disk usage was when I compiled updated programs on my Gentoo system.


I store all my "data" files on an NFS network file server, so I have no intention of putting that stuff on an SSD. Although I run Gentoo "~AMD64" (ie: Unstable) and compile things all the time, I don't see the point of spending a $100+ for a good SSD just to speed up compile times. (About half my compile times seem to be disk I/O)


I'll have to find some other nerdy thing to spend my Christmas money on this year.







Casey Bralla

Chief Nerd in Residence


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