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External Hard Drives constantly spinning up and down every few minutes


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Hi talented forum users,

I was hoping someone knows how to fix the issue I am having which has delayed my troubleshooting and testing of the thermal management issue I am experiencing and kindly being assisted with in another part of this forum. This current problem is frustrating me to the endth degree because if I don’t solve it, it will end up costing me a lot of money due to drive wear.

Over the last four days or so my five external 4Tb hard drives plugged in to my Dell XPS 15 9560 via an independently powered 7 port hub have begun spinning up and spinning down every few minutes. This is despite them having been working optimally for several years before that. Note: They don’t get used often enough to warrant setting them to spin constantly.

As you know it’s gonna wear them out quickly and be a very expensive exercise for me.
I can’t switch to SSD as they’re all 4tb drives and they’re not selling external 4Tb SSD’s to consumers yet as far as I’m aware. If they were I would not be able to afford to buy them all.


Primary troubleshooting I have performed:

- Ensured indexing is turned off for all drives.
- Within Windows 10 power options I’ve set power saving mode and set to turn off all drives after 5 mins.
- I’ve checked Malwarebytes isn’t scanning the drives and made exceptions for all of them just in case.
- I’ve turned off automatic (optimisation) disk defrag of drives.
- I tried rolling back the two Windows ten updates installed on December 2 (because this problem only started some days ago)
- Microsoft One Drive has always been uninstalled.
- I ensured page file hasn’t been created in any of the external drives. It’s confirmed as only on the C:\
- I have no Windows explorer windows open that would warrant to querying of the drives and the problem continues when I lock my work station when the CPU and GPU fans have stop spinning due to inactivity.
- I ensured ‘SuperFetch’ wasn’t activated and disabled that process permanently.
- I ensured autoplay is not activated.
- Ran SFC SCANNOW in CMD (No errors detected)
- Ran Chkdsk on all drives (No errors detected)
- Uninstalled Intel Rapid Storage Technology
- Temporarily Disabled ‘Storage Service’ in Windows computer management
- Uninstalled my PC backup software ‘Aomei Backupper’ (creates an image) of Windows with all my apps in case PC dies. I was forced to install this after Windows 10 backup (actually windows 7 backup feature) started problematically creating the backup image with zero KB’s after a few years. But this shouldn’t have been a problem as it was set to backup once a month anyway and the next scheduled date was a few days forward from today.


Secondary Troubleshooting I performed:

- I installed the awesome ‘safely remove application’ which shows which process is preventing the drive from being ejected however, they are all able to be ejected with nothing locking them up... yet the spinning up and spinning down problem persists.

- I then installed SysInternals Process Monitor which narrowed it down to the powershell.exe process appearing to query name and volume information on each drive and doing so systematically every few mins. I cannot figure a way to stop this and have unplugged all drives until I find a fix.

Essentially my gut tells me the powershell.exe process is obviously the problem and despite endless web searches which just lead me to articles about how I.T. administrators can stop being using USB drives with the assistance of Powershell, I have no idea how to stop it from querying my external drives every ten minutes or so.

Desperate for any advice, that anyone is able to provide me and would be most grateful for a solution.

Photo of SysInternals Process Monitor log below.
The five drives identified in the Sysinternals log as follows:



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You can try removing Powershell if you don't use it.  I'm not sure what the process is doing, but I do see entries mentioning shares; if the drives are set up to be shared with other devices on the network, that could be the reason for the constant access as the system may query shared resources to check/validate their status.  That's just a guess though, but it does seem odd that Powershell is constantly accessing your drives like that.  If you use any sort of system or drive monitoring utility, that could also be the source.

I'd recommend checking Process Explorer (another MS Sysinternals utility) to see what the parent process of Powershell.exe is to try and determine why it is being run.

Edited by exile360
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Thanks so much Exile, both for your assistance with this, my other post and the call to arms towards forum admin for the spam rejection problems I have faced.

I check and ensured none of my drives are being shared and they are not.

I installed Process Explorer and while being coached on the phone by a very tech savvy server engineer friend of mine who managed to spare 20 minutes between meetings at work, kept my eyes peeled for any instances of powershell.exe. He was particularly interested in discovering what service or application is invoking powershell.exe to call home to my external drives.

I hung up the phone, did as he said and commenced analysing it while paying particularly close attention to it when my drives started to spin.
After 30 mins of analysis, at times when the drives started to spin I observed powershell appear in first green and then red, but then disappear within a second (faster than I could take a screen grab).
It did not appear in an expanded tree view underneath any other service/application and I was unable to detect what was invoking it.

The third time it happened I managed to take some rapid fire photos with my phone and have uploaded them below. All 4 photos were what happened in order before the evidence of them disappeared and could not be found by scrolling down the list of processes.

Please see attached photos.





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I wonder if it could be related to WmiPrvSE? which I did also see appear a few times in the Process Monitor.

As a result of this, I wonder if it's the same problem this guy is having...


I have to start my 12 hour night shift shortly so will unplug the drives again and address this again when I can. It's not much fun. Thank you for your help.

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Yes I am convinced it is being invoked by WmiPrvSE which just showed up in the process log list almost immediately before the drives started to spin up just now.
Found this... He was having the same problem.

And tried his solution (that worked for him) which was

Start > Settings > Privacy > Background apps

Turn off Microsoft Store


Unfortunately it didn't remedy it.

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Yes, that definitely sounds like a possibility.  If it doesn't resolve it please post an Autoruns log and we can take a look and see if there are any startups/background apps, services, or scheduled tasks that might account for it.  These days with so many apps wanting to 'optimize', 'monitor' (usually for telemetry), and 'indexing' (a common issue with many multimedia apps such as anything related to photos/images, music or videos) as well as things like performance and system monitoring applications, it's pretty common for any storage attached to a system to be accessed frequently.  It can be very irritating too since it often prevents disconnecting removable storage devices.

If needed, here are the instructions for running Autoruns:

Create an Autoruns Log:
Please download Sysinternals Autoruns from here and save it to your desktop.

Note: If using Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1 or Windows 10 then you also need to do the following:

                Right-click on Autoruns.exe and select Properties
                Click on the Compatibility tab
                Under Privilege Level check the box next to Run this program as an administrator
                Click on Apply then click OK

  • Double-click Autoruns.exe to run it.
  • Once it starts, please press the Esc key on your keyboard.
  • Now that scanning is stopped, click on the Options button at the top of the program and verify that the following are checked, if they are unchecked, check them:
        Hide empty locations
        Hide Windows entries
  • Click on the Options button at the top of the program and select Scan Options... then in the Autoruns Scan Options dialog enable/check the following two options:
        Verify code signatures
        Check VirusTotal.com
  • Once that's done click the Rescan button at the bottom of the Autoruns Scan Options dialog and this will start the scan again, this time let it finish.
  • When it's finished and says Ready. on the lower left of the program window, please click on the File button at the top of the program and select Save and save the file to your desktop and close Autoruns.
  • Right click on the file on your desktop that you just saved and hover your mouse over Send To and select Compressed (zipped) Folder
  • Attach the ZIP folder you just created to your next reply

Hopefully the fix you found does the job, but please let us know if it doesn't.

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By the way, if disabling the Microsoft Store doesn't fix it you can also disable any apps from running in the background (UWP apps, not normal desktop applications so things like your antivirus and essential programs like driver utilities etc. will still run normally).  To do so, please refer to the instructions in this article.  The option is located under the Privacy section of the Windows 10 Settings interface.  Toggle the option Let apps run in the background to Off and then restart your system.  This has the added benefit of potentially improving your system's overall performance since you'll likely have fewer active tasks running in the background which might also help with your heat/fan issues.

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Thank you for your ongoing help.
Before leaving for work in the next few minutes I managed to:

- Disable all background apps from running in Windows (The problem persists after this)
- Ran Autorun with all the appropriate settings applied and zipped and attached the log file

I meant to mention earlier I also disabled Intel Rapid Storage Technology a few days ago after another user in a different forum stated this worked for them.


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And my apologies Exile, I think some people might believe I might be more computer capable than I am. I appreciate the confidence, but when you said “if that doesn’t solve it” after I referred to the WmiPrvSE process potentially being the problem... I’m not sure what I was supposed to do to try and fix it.

I assume it involves killing this process for good, some way or another, to test if it remedies the problem? 

If this what you were insinuating I’m happy to try this definitely, I’ll try anything anything I’m not too sure how and whether that would be detrimental to the day to day function of the Windows OS?

I’m hoping my posted logs files can tell someone a bit more about what’s going on in the background (fingers crossed)

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I was referring to the link I posted; there's an option in Windows' Settings under Privacy called Let apps run in the background which you can switch off, then restart the system and see if the issue is still present or not.  Instructions for doing so are included in the link I provided above where it says this article; just follow the instructions on that page under the first section at the top for disabling background apps using Settings.

Now, as for your Autoruns log, here are some recommendations. 

Open Autoruns again, but this time navigate to each tab indicated then uncheck the box next to each of the items listed.

Note: None of the changes we are making are permanent; if you decide that you need any of the disabled startups to run when your PC starts all you have to do is launch Autoruns and re-check the checkbox next to each item you wish to re-enable, then restart your system and the items you re-checked will start normally on boot.

Select the Logon tab and uncheck the box to the left of each of the following items; I've included some notes next to some items to explain why it should be disabled and indicated possible reasons why you might choose not to do so; the finaly decision for each item is of course up to you:

  • EraserAs far as I can tell, this utility is just for securely erasing data from your drive; I see no reason you can't just launch this application manually when you need to use it
  • iTunesHelperUnless you use iTunes to listen to or stream music all the time, you can launch iTunes manually whenever you need it (especially if all you ever do with it is occasionally sync, backup or copy music/videos etc. to an Apple device
  • AcrobatAssistant 8.0Unless you use Adobe Acrobat very frequently and find the tray icon useful, go ahead and disable this item
  • AdobeCS6ServiceManagerUnless you use multiple apps from Adobe CS to leverage extensions between those apps on a regular basis, this can be disabled (basically, if all you do is occasionally edit media and export it, go ahead and disable this because you likely don't need it)
  • Evoluent Mouse ListenerThis app is for configuring custom button assignments for your mouse; you can likely disable this without sacrificing any functionality and any buttons you've remapped/customized should still be retained without it running (you can re-enable it if you find that it causes problems not having it in the background of course)
  • ExpressVPNNotificationServiceTry disabling this one; if your VPN still works without it, keep it disabled, if it doesn't then re-enable it and restart your system
  • HP Software UpdateYou can (and should) launch this utility manually to check for updates as part of your normal system maintenance (like when you do things such as defragmenting drives, deleting temp/junk files that build up over time etc.) and HP doesn't update their software/drivers nearly often enough to justify running this app in the background constantly, at least in my opinion
  • Intel Driver & Support AssistantYou can actually uninstall this one if you want to; now that Intel is onboard with Microsoft's DCH driver program they don't really provide driver updates directly for most hardware any more and instead recommend users download driver updates from their system manufacturer's sites (most likely HP in your case) or through Windows Update so this app is not very useful and shouldn't be running every time your PC boots
  • ProductUpdaterAs with other such tools, you're better off just occasionally updating the associated application(s) that rely on this manually when you use those applications rather than keeping this running in the background constantly
  • SwitchBoardIf you aren't using Adobe's cloud features (most people don't), you should be able to disable this
  • Syncios device serviceThis belongs to your data transfer utility; I suspect you don't use this application often enough to warrant keeping it running in the background constantly
  • WSHelperSetup.exe  NOTE: There are 2 entries for this item in your Logon tab; disable bothThis belongs to Wondershare Studio; you should be able to disable it without losing any functionality
  • Evoluent Mouse ManagerSee above regarding Evoluent Mouse Listener; same reasoning applies here
  • What's my computer doingUnless you installed this to attempt to diagnose the issue we're working on, it might actually be the culprit causing the behavior you're seeing with your drives; ignore this if you know it's not the cause and you installed it specifically for diagnosing the drive spinning issue
  • PUSH WallpaperIf you use this app for its video wallpaper functionality and find that it doesn't work without this running, keep it enabled, but if it doesn't need it in order to work then keep it disabled; it might also be a good idea to temporarily disable it and restart just to test and make sure this app isn't the cause of the issue (it might have some sort of indexing function to look for new images/videos etc. on your system)

Next, select the Task Scheduler tab and uncheck each of the following; the same instructions apply here as above, so if you find that you need something enabled for a program to work that you use you can always re-check/re-enable it to get it back and restart your system and it should start normally:

  • Apple\AppleSoftwareUpdateiTunes can (and most likely will) check for updates on its own whenever you actually launch iTunes; no need to have it constantly running in the background
  • AutoPico Daily RestartThis appears to be an orphaned entry; unless you know what it is and still have it/use it from your E:\ drive, you can safely right-click on it and select Delete in Autoruns
  • CCleaner UpdateCCleaner automatically checks for new versions whenever you launch it, so unless you're having it run automatically on its own and don't launch the program manually when you use it, go ahead and disable it
  • Dell SupportAssistAgent AutoUpdateAs with Intel and HP, Dell doesn't update their drivers and software nearly often enough to justify having this program launch every time your computer boots; you can launch the app manually to check for updates as part of your normal maintenance tasks
  • IntelSURQC-Upgrade-86621605-2a0b-4128-8ffc-15514c247132This is Intel's telemetry application; disable it unless you just really like sharing data with Intel
  • IntelSURQC-Upgrade-86621605-2a0b-4128-8ffc-15514c247132-LogonSame as the other one (I guess Intel really wants to make sure their telemetry app runs at startup :P)
  • IUM-F1E24CA0-B63E-4F13-A9E3-4ADE3BFF3473Another 'File not found' entry; you should be able to delete this one

Now, select the Drivers tab and uncheck the following entry:

  • TelemetryAs with the other Intel entries, this driver's purpose is tracking/telemetry

Restart your system and see if things have improved and let us know.


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Ah, I’m with you now. I can confirm I disabled all background apps after you alerted me to this.

I’m at work and will implement all you have suggested when I finish my shift tomorrow morning.

You are a MARVEL and (if it were a real thing), suitable of entry in the MCU as far as I’m concerned. Your time alone and willingness to write all that is so kind and I thank you sincerely.

I agree with all of your stipulations about every running service and scheduled task. Furthermore, your speculation about my use of appears to all be precisely on point.

They will all be removed tomorrow after I have gotten home. 

Thank you for taking the time to review my logs, I’m sure it was messy.

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Sounds like a plan :)

In fact, if you happen to spot any apps that we're disabling from starting up that you know you don't really need or use any more, go ahead and uninstall them, but only if you really don't use or need them any more of course.  Frankly, you could totally uninstall the Dell support utility and Intel Driver & Support Assistant and you probably wouldn't miss them at all (it was a really different time as far as driver updates are concerned when those apps were developed; these days with Microsoft's constant OS overhauls via major Windows 10 updates, they've pretty much taken on the task of managing important driver updates through Windows Update which is likely a big reason they started the entire DCH driver program to begin with because they kept running into frequent driver/hardware compatibility issues with major Windows 10 patch releases).

Edited by exile360
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Roger, although believe it or not... it was necessary for me to read your explanation of each and follow up reasoning as to why they were unnecessary to be convinced (in only a second mind you) that they are unneeded. 

This is because I don’t have the knowledge required to understand their importance or use at face value and have an unfortunately ignorant approach of ‘well they are launching at startup so they must be important’ approach.l so I don’t break anything and cause more problems for myself. I think thermal management and spinning drives is enough for me right now. 

I’m only good at identifying services which detect pirate versions of software. Not that I would ever do that of course it’s just a friend use to dabble in it and I used to have to listen to his stories.

Regarding other applications though, unfortunately due to my lack of skills I have this ignorant thought that everything must be important otherwise it wouldn’t be there. 

I’m surprised this program we have been using ‘Autoruns’ allows you to modify and permanently disable system processes and scheduled tasks permanently and didn’t see any option like that during my superficial examination of it. Mind you I only saw the GUI for the very first time in the last few days. 

So I’m delighted to hear it does and will investigate how to do this and begin knocking those unnecessary items off one by one as per your instructions, first thing in the morning. 

I also think I identified why forums stopped me posting temporarily. At least on my phone I did, not sure why it happened on the PC but likely the same. I never heard back from admin about my support ticket but I think it was a VPN server I was connected to in South America it didn’t like. 

On my phone I had a refusal replying to you today under the grounds of spam. So I disconnected and switched VPN server from South America to Australia and it posted fine straight afterward. 

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Ah yes, using a VPN can sometimes trigger the forum's spam block filter as using VPNs is a common tactic employed by spambots to try and conceal their true IP addresses so that they aren't blocked due to being on the existing block list.  I'm sure that was the reason it was blocked.

Anyway, with regards to uninstalling programs it is generally OK to uninstall things that you don't actually use.  Much of the stuff that came with the PC is just there in case you need it or because the system manufacturer makes money from the software vendor to include their software on the system in order to promote it (this is why new PCs usually come with a bunch of trial software as the companies hope that once the trial ends you will end up purchasing a license).

We can go through and see about uninstalling some programs you don't need later on, but for now just try disabling those items with Autoruns when you get a chance and see if things improve with your drives.

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Thanks for your patience Exile.
I disabled every item you instructed to with the exception of two:

- I disabled Push Video Wallpaper and tested it and the problem remained. Disabling it also disabled it loading when the OS starts up and this was installed prior to the problem appearing
(I realise that doesn't mean an application isn't responsible due to application updates etc) but it doesn't appear to be the culprit or contributing in this case. So I re-enabled it after I had tested whether the problem went away.

- Telemetry was no longer visible within the Drivers tab despite me loading the application several times to see if it would appear ready for me to disable.

All other features you mentioned are disabled and remain that way and did not affect the day to day operation of the OS at all thank you.
Just on the side and in relation to the other topic, unfortunately this didn't have any unexpected benefits in relation to thermal activity and fan revving as I had hoped.

I am pained to say the drive spinning up problem remains.


I have attached:

- The latest 3 photos I took with my phone when the drives started up last so the OS could complete it's mystery annoying and drive killing process. (As explained taken on phone again because they disappear in the blink of an eye and screen grabs become impossible.

- A .PNG screen grab of the Process Monitor Application Screen directly after taking these three photos mentioned above but having rightfully dragged the slider bar down to capture the latest events that happened seconds earlier (which is why the content within the right hand side of the split screen view in the photos appears different to the .png screen grab)

- An updated Autoruns log after all changes you recommended have been applied and with the up spinning drive problem still present.


Things I note with my limited knowledge:

The appearance of the WmiPrvSe.exe service is prevalent again around the time that the drive querying commences by powershell.exe just below it.
Do you think related and anyway to kill permanently? Or will that affect the OS? Or am I looking at a bogus line of enquiry here (false indicator).

Further information I didn't mention earlier.
I performed deep scans both online and offline settings with both Malwarebytes Paid and Microsoft Security Essentials A.K.A Defender and nothing of suspicion was found except as we all know it never likes Utorrent and politely brought it's existence to my attention.

I have again detached all drives as I head off to work tonight to stop their suicidal spin cycles.






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Yes, I think your initial instincts are correct that it is the WmiPrvSe.exe process doing it, I'm just not sure why, however the fact that it is that specific process does offer a few clues.  WMI (also known as Windows Management Instrumentation) is a core OS component that serves many tasks.  It is often used by internal OS utilities and components for things like checking certain settings (like Windows Security Center providers among many other things), performance and maintenance tasks like the system's built in performance and resource monitoring tools, and is often used by third party applications and utilities for purposes such as monitoring system performance, looking at network throughput/bandwidth and many other tasks.  The trouble is, because it has such a wide range of applications/uses, tracking down exactly what is causing it to run and call Powershell the way it is can prove quite difficult.

One more thing to try would be to restart the service and see what shows up when you attempt to do so, similar to what is shown below (this is from my own system):


To do so, click on START and type services.msc into the search bar and it should be listed at the top under Programs as illustrated below (Note: I'm using a START menu customization application so your START menu will obviously look different, however it should still behave the same way):


Open services.msc and locate the Windows Management Instrumentation service, then right-click on it and select Restart as illustrated below:


Once that is done, make a note of what, if anything, is listed in the Restart Other Services dialog.  In my case, it was Malwarebytes and Intel(R) Rapid Storage Technology.  Perhaps this will list something different/unique on your system which may prove to be the culprit behind all this disk usage.

Please post back with your findings.


Edited by exile360
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Aha, great clues there, thanks :)

No rush, go ahead and get to work, but for when you return let's try uninstalling that Dell Data Vault application and see if that fixes it.  I bet it has some sort of indexing and/or monitoring function that might be what's behind all this.  Based on what I've found online on Dell's suppor forums, uninstalling it may be a bit tricky since it likely isn't listed directly under Programs and Features as most applications would be, so we'll have to try uninstalling Dell's software until we find the right one.  We can improve our odds by getting a list of the items listed in Programs and Features so please open it by clicking on the START menu and typing Programs and Features and it should be listed at the top.

In the Programs and Features window, scroll down to the D's section (they should be listed alphabetically by default) and get a screenshot of it and post it back here, making certain all the Dell items are listed in the image, that way I can take a look at exactly which programs they list.

I also took a look at your FRST logs which shows some of the entries that should be listed there and identified Dell SupportAssist as the most likely suspect based on that Dell forum thread, though I'd like to have the full list from Programs and Features before proceeding just to make sure.

You can also export the Uninstall list from CCleaner which is likely to show many entries not listed in FRST or Programs and Features (especially handy since you already have CCleaner installed anyway).  To do this, open CCleaner and click on the Tools menu item on the left and select Uninstall at the top if it isn't already selected, then click the Save to text file... button on the bottom right and save the install.txt file to your desktop or any other convenient location where you'll be able to easily find it then attach it here to your reply so that I can take a look.


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FYI I would be very keen to test uninstalling Dell Support Assist if you green light this in your troubleshooting sequence. 

I certainly don’t think it provides anything vital and Dell Update is as you can see, still installed.

It’s relevant to mention, I only now recall being prompted to download the updated version of this just prior to the problem commencing. I did this when prompted. It uninstalled the old and re-installed the new.

I did the same with the (for some reason not listed in my programs) Dell Command Power Management Application. This is definitely installed on my machine currently even if not listed under the Programs menu in the OS. 

The priority of removing and reinstalling this at the time (I wasn’t prompted to as their was no newer version than what I already had available) was to see if it was corrupt.

This was to attempt re-toggling the ‘quiet’ mode under the Thermal Management section of the application to ‘On’ to try and remedy the other fan revving issue you’re aware of. I’m not concerned about this currently as the problem is by far, more important and I’m confident we can solve that other issue once I delve in to and test undervolting. 

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I also didn’t properly address the ‘What’s my Computer Doing’ stipulation you made earlier in your list of processes to disable.

Apologies, this was human error from poor memory throughout what I can only describe as a labyrinthian troubleshooting process of these two separate PC problems. I had left this process running after reading your list thinking for some reason it was not the problem.

I now believe cannot confirm when I installed this throughout the troubleshooting of both issues (thermal and drives) and having left it enabled when I disabled all the others you suggested I can’t rule out it’s potentially a contributing or causal factor.

 I’ve just disabled it this min, rebooting and am plugging in and testing the drives again to see what effect if any, it has. As I’m sure you agree, given you highlighted it, it’s important I test this so we can rule it out and nothing slips through the net. 

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Unfortunately the problem persists. ‘What’s my Computer Doing’ is now confirmed as not being causal or contributory I believe.

I also made a mistake and Dell Command Power Manager is not currently installed so I obviously uninstalled it again before troubleshooting this whole drive process. I imagine it’s safe to say we can also rule that out. Though now my gut strangely makes me wonder if having this installed (as it has been for so long, last year at least) was preventing this drive problem from occurring in the first place. Although that sounds fanciful and is probably way off the mark.

If you green light removal of Dell Support Assist and think that’ll help I’ll do it as soon as I wake this afternoon. 

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