• All Community
    • All Community
    • Forums
    • Ideas
    • Blogs
Advanced

Not what you are looking for? Ask the experts!

Kudos0

NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

I've got a fresh Windows 7 install with NIS 2010 and I am monitoring which programs cause a large number of writes to disk using Process Monitor to ensure nothing is causing excessive writes to the SSD drive (which is C:\).

 

Currently NIS 2010 is sitting at the top of the list for making writes to the C drive.  I've disabled the 'Idle Time Optimizer' and 'Pulse Updates' but it still writes way more to disk than anything else when the PC is just idle. 

 

Are there any other settings I should change or will I have to resort to using junctions to relocate the Norton logs and certain data files elsewhere? 

Replies

Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

I've got a fresh Windows 7 install with NIS 2010 and I am monitoring which programs cause a large number of writes to disk using Process Monitor to ensure nothing is causing excessive writes to the SSD drive (which is C:\).

 

Currently NIS 2010 is sitting at the top of the list for making writes to the C drive.  I've disabled the 'Idle Time Optimizer' and 'Pulse Updates' but it still writes way more to disk than anything else when the PC is just idle. 

 

Are there any other settings I should change or will I have to resort to using junctions to relocate the Norton logs and certain data files elsewhere? 

Kudos1 Stats

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

Hi kmp:

Welcome to the Norton User Forums!

SSD's have evolved quite a bit since their initial mainstream introduction.

Assuming nothing is wrong with the default NIS 2010 install you should not see any negative performance impact.

Your SSD is treated just like an HDD on the part of NIS (which does not care about the medium,) just faster I/O.

Windows 7 has capability in it for SSD management, known as "Trim" so it would be desirable to have NIS in it's default location on the same partition for best overall performance.

I could understand (and agree with) turning off the "Idle Time Optimizer," but not Pulse updates.

The more protection available to you by NIS 2010, the better.

Hope that this addresses your concern.

Message Edited by Plankton on 12-27-2009 10:43 AM
      Plankton - MCSE, CSQE     - NIS 2009 • NIS 2010 -Windows XP • Vista • 7 • IE 8
Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

Thanks for you reply.  I don't think there's anything wrong with my install as a test install in a virtual machine behaves the same.

 

Although Windows 7 knows how to optimize certain activities for SSD use, as NIS keeps writing to it's data files there is little that Windows 7 can do to help.

 

I would like to leave the Pulse updates on, but they do generate a log of extra writes (over a wide range of areas within various files) hence why I've disabled them.  Ideally I would like to be able to configure the interval.

 

The added wear for all the NIS file writes isn't going to kill and SSD anytime soon, but the fact that it's writing way more than anything else on an idle PC makes it stand out as possibly needing some thought in the software design to reduce file I/O not just for SSD use, but general performance optimization (I have to do this in the applications I write)

 

Note: Trim is not relevant here as that is just the optimization of blocks no longer required (deleted files) so that time is not lost when free space is needed for writing new data.  SSDs have a certain life for (commonly 10,000 re-writes for non enterprise drives) so continually writing to disk shortens the life even with the wear levelling feature built into the drives' controllers.

Message Edited by kmp on 12-27-2009 03:50 PM
Kudos1 Stats

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

Hi kmp:

The interval of Pulse Updates is fixed. It cannot be changed when on. Expect an update every 5-15 minutes.

As for thought in the Software Design of NIS, you could twist this to say that more thought needs to be put into the overall design of SSD devices. As much as I like SSD's, they are still in their formative stages, (IMO) and have a ways to go in the areas of MTBF, Access Time (I/O) and Capacity. I'm sure that in time, like anything else, these issues will be surmounted.

It's just the nature of the beast.

Message Edited by Plankton on 12-27-2009 11:06 AM
      Plankton - MCSE, CSQE     - NIS 2009 • NIS 2010 -Windows XP • Vista • 7 • IE 8
Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

The fact that SSD drives have a more limited life than traditional mechanical drives doesn't change the fact that NIS 2010 has written 5 times more data to my C drive than all the other applications and system processes put together in the last 4 hours since I booted the PC.  And that is after disabling performance monitoring, pulse updates and idle time optimisation.

 

If this cannot be easily improved then at least there should be an easy way of relocating the data/log files to other drives.  Overall I like NIS, much more so than several other products I've used in the last few years, but this is one area that needs a bit of thought.

 

Incidentenally, SSDs don't need much improvement in the access time department  

Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

Hi kmp:

Could you please tell me *exactly* what processes are utilizing so much CPU time?

Thanks.

      Plankton - MCSE, CSQE     - NIS 2009 • NIS 2010 -Windows XP • Vista • 7 • IE 8
Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

The process making the writes is the usual ccSvcHost.exe which is hosting many of the Symantec dlls.

 

I decided to relocate the entire Norton application data (ie. C:\ProgramData\Norton on Vista/Win7) to a mechanical drive.  I've done this at the top level of the Norton data folder rather than on applicable sub folders as that would require numerous junctions as the frquently written files are in several different sub-folders.  Once relocated in safe mode (with access rights carefully maintained at the new location) it's seems to be working fine and I've now re-enabled pulse updates. 

 

Not an ideal thing to have to do, but given how much was being written and how regularly (so the Windows write cache cannot help greatly) then I think it was a good plan.

Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

Hi kmp:

Did you try the same structure on the SSD?

I find it quite weird that the default installation of NIS on the SSD would function in the manner previously described.

Message Edited by Plankton on 12-29-2009 09:13 AM
      Plankton - MCSE, CSQE     - NIS 2009 • NIS 2010 -Windows XP • Vista • 7 • IE 8
Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

> I find it quite weird that the default installation of NIS on the SSD would function in the manner previously described

 

Well I can assure you it does.  I develop software for a living and used all the applicable development and debugging tools to analyse the behaviour.   I see the same behaviour on all my other PCs (I have quite a few licences for NIS 2009/2010) and in a test virtual machine.  For example the PC I'm using now (not the one with the SSD) has 1GB of writes by NIS in the last 3 hours.

 

NIS isn't not doing anything that odd, it just logs a lot of events (performance, scanning, file hashes/details, update history etc) and for the complete product which covers a lot of functionality this all adds up to a lot more writing than I would like on an SSD when the PC is otherwise idle.

 

Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

Hi kmp:


You wrote:

"I see the same behaviour on all my other PCs (I have quite a few licences for NIS 2009/2010) and in a test virtual machine.  For example the PC I'm using now (not the one with the SSD) has 1GB of writes by NIS in the last 3 hours."


1 GB? Even with LiveUpdate active, that appears to be excessive, IMHO.

I would need to run some tests on my own systems with Process Monitor to see if the results are the same.

One question -  are you running any other real-time security software in conjunction with NIS?

Message Edited by Plankton on 12-29-2009 10:06 AM
      Plankton - MCSE, CSQE     - NIS 2009 • NIS 2010 -Windows XP • Vista • 7 • IE 8
Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

> One question -  are you running any other real-time security software in conjunction with NIS?

 

No - all PCs in question have only ever had NIS installed.  Some of my older PCs may have had more than one version of NIS, but I see similar behaviour on all anyway (I've just never investigated it before) 

Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

kmp, there is an other thread about continous disk reads. The problem seems to be resolved by disabling tamper protection, could you, for testing purposes only, disable tamper protection and see if that is the culprit for the high number of disk writes?
Reese AnschultzSenior Software Quality Assurance Manager, Symantec Corporation
Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

Hi kmp:

Talk about timing!

I just noticed Reese's post and the linked thread. Interesting!

As per my last post I mentioned that I would be getting back to you concerning your I/O issue with NIS 2010.

I ran Process Monitor on my Windows 7 system two days ago and monitored the results for about 1 hour.

In a nutshell, the HDD I/O is actually little, minor imact on performance.

As Reese suggested, please temporarily disable (for the purposes of testing) Tamper Protection and let us know if the problem abates.

Regards.

Message Edited by Plankton on 12-30-2009 01:49 PM
      Plankton - MCSE, CSQE     - NIS 2009 • NIS 2010 -Windows XP • Vista • 7 • IE 8
Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

Reese, a quick test doesn't appear to make any difference to the writes (more info below), but on one of the two machines I have running at the moment I certainly have the read issue mentioned in the other thread:

 

From task manager for a PC running for 6 hours (mostly idle, no scheduled full scans etc): ccSvcHost.exe: Read Bytes: 70,412,782,090   Write Bytes   570,735,931

 

The read value goes up about 8KB per second but slows down to a much lower rate when I disable tamper protection. I've not checked what type of I/O reads they are yet so they could be something cached or non file related, although the other thread indicated continual drive noise so that doesn't seem to be the case. Note: This PC is running NIS 2009, whereas the other one I am using at the moment is using NIS 2010.

 

File Writes:

On both machines I have running at the moment the writes are not as bad as the read issue above, but heavier than expected and especially so for SSD drives (lots or random access writes), i.e: in one hour NIS 2010 has written five times more data than all the other processes put together on an idle PC.

 

I've just run Process Monitor for a few minutes and the summary figures are in the attached cvs file (renamed as .log for upload).  NIS uses a lot of data files and I really think you really need to consider some optimisations and more options for users to tune their installs accordingly.

Message Edited by kmp on 12-30-2009 09:39 PM
File Attachment: 
Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

Hi kmp:

Interesting information, thanks.

Could you please summarize the general hardware and software configurations for these machines being tested?

Which NIS version is tagged to what computer? How is NIS 2009 behaving compared to 2010?

Perhaps that could shed some light on all of this.

Thanks.

Message Edited by Plankton on 12-30-2009 09:13 PM
      Plankton - MCSE, CSQE     - NIS 2009 • NIS 2010 -Windows XP • Vista • 7 • IE 8
Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

I have the same concern. SSDs by nature have this wear-out problem. However, software can help remediate it. Windows 7 is smart enough to not defrag SSDs automatically. However, NIS optimizer seems to do that regardless. If optimizer is in action, I can see defrag writing to files on my SSD drive. I consider that as a bug. Don't you agree? Even after I turn off Idle Time Optimizer, I still find optimizer listed as Yes to Ran During Idle in Norton Tasks. Can that be another bug?

I'm also interested in knowing how to safely move Norton ProgramData to a regular HDD as I am thinking of doing it too. Would it be sufficient to manually move the Norton directory and change all corresponding registry entries (how many of them in total?)? I would appreciate it if NIS offers finer-grained configuration for things like this.

Thanks,

Jia-Shing

Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

Relocating Norton ProgramData needs to be done in Windows Safe Mode as the files are always open normally and it's difficult to shutdown all of the applicable processes. Rather than change registry entries I used an NTFS junction for the relocation

Therefore what I did was basically:

  • Whilst in Windows after a standard boot, I created a folder for the Norton ProgramData folder on a mechanical and copied the security settings of the original folder.
  • Rebooted into Safe Mode with command line only.
  • Used XCopy to copy the Norton program data to the new location with the existing access rights.
  • Removed the source folder.
  • Created a junction using the Window mklink command (i.e. used "/J" option) from the existing location to the new one.
  • Rebooted normally.

I haven't looked at the defragmention issue other than stopping the idle time optimizer, but I will do in due course!  

Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

Thank you, kmp. It's very insightful. I'll try it.

I turned the idle time optimizer setting on and off, to make sure it's off and then left my computer on over night. Again, the optimizer ran at night. Can someone explain why, please?

Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

Hi wang:

The Optimizer in NIS 2010 is just a call to your built-in Windows Defragger.

Are you sure that isn't scheduling a scan at night, as an automated task?

      Plankton - MCSE, CSQE     - NIS 2009 • NIS 2010 -Windows XP • Vista • 7 • IE 8
Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

I do have defrag scheduled for regular HDDs, monthly, on the first, so it can't be the root cause of the 6 min 13 sec run on Jan. 3. Can you help make sure switching idle time optimizer does disable defrag once and for all? Thank you.
Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

If I recall correctly - if you turn off the Optimizer - you must reboot for it to take effect...

Ken

Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

Hi wang:

This is weird.

Try setting the NIS Idle Time Optimizer to be on, save the changes and then close.

Then go back in and reverse this process. Let us know if the Idle Time Optimizer still does the scan at night.

One more thing...

What is the current level of defragmentation on or HDD or HDD's? If high, I would also run a defrag manually.

      Plankton - MCSE, CSQE     - NIS 2009 • NIS 2010 -Windows XP • Vista • 7 • IE 8
Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

KLR may be right. After a system reboot, I didn't see optimizer run last night. I'll leave the system up tonight and see what happens. My system was newly built so level of fragmentation is very low. Anyway, SSDs are not really physical disks, so access to data is close to linear. I highly recommend NIC to follow Win7's step and treat SSDs differently before people like us riot here. :-)

By the way, I have Pulse Update off,  and I have done quite a few reboots. However, it runs regardless of my setting. It doesn't even wait until idle to do it. Is it supposed to be normal?

Thank you.

Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

Hi wang:

In my opinion, you should *not* have to reboot. Another weird one.

As for your other question...

Even if you do not turn on Pulse Updates, LiveUpdate picks all the missed streams, and it updates your computer in the full definition updates. So it would appear that when you turn it off, it should stay off. Try resetting it by toggling it on then "Apply ->OK" - and then reverse the procedure and advise if it worked.

Did you upgrade from NIS 2009 to NIS 2010 in an "overlay" installation?

Pehaps there are some "stuck" settings which might be resolved by a complete (and properly done) NIS reinstall.

Kindly advise, thanks.

Message Edited by Plankton on 01-06-2010 10:53 AM
      Plankton - MCSE, CSQE     - NIS 2009 • NIS 2010 -Windows XP • Vista • 7 • IE 8
Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

After I did that, it appears to work now. Thank you.

No, I have everything fresh. Fresh OS and fresh NIS 2010 install.

Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

Hi wang:

Glad to hear that.

Feel free to open a new thread with any other questions.

Cheers!

      Plankton - MCSE, CSQE     - NIS 2009 • NIS 2010 -Windows XP • Vista • 7 • IE 8
Kudos1 Stats

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

Personally, I don't think the high number of writes to the disk are such a big deal (even if they do seem a bit excessive), SSD are rated for a lot more write cycles than you guys seem to think they are... At 'least current-gen SSD of any quality are. Look up Intel's specs sometime, they claim you could write 100GB to the drive every day and it'd still last 5 years, so even if Norton's writing as much as 1-5GB of data to the drive per day... That's not gonna have much of an impact on it's lifespan.

Now the optimizer option issue is MUCH more worrisome as a rogue defrag service moving files willy nilly on a SSD has the potential to subject it to a lot more write cycles than NIS' excessive logging... And the stance that a Symantec employee took on a different thread is completely ridiculous... It's like he had no concept whatsoever of how SSD works. He basically said that it's unlikely the SSD would often be defragmented enough that the optimizer would be constantly running on it and that if NIS' optimizer tool does any harm to the drive by defragging it then the way in which the user is employing the drive is doing more harm to it anyway.

However SSD by defnition are never defragmented, the OS and NIS could interpret them to be (by looking at it in the same way they look at a HDD), and that is why Win7 never defrags SSD. It does not matter one iota whether stuff is written contigiously on a SSD since area of it is accessed it at the same speed (almost instant, or 0.1ms, or 1/10th of the acess time of even the better HDD out there). Defragging a SSD would not only put it thru excess write cycles for absolutely no gain, but it could be defating the SSD's own wear-leveling algorithms (that spread stuff around the drive so that you're not writing to the same memory cells continuously).

Basically defragging a SSD will do more harm to it than anything the user could do! (hence the ignorance of the statement by bkennedy in this thread, a Symantec employee, shame it's closed and I can't reply there)

From what I've read in other threads it's not hard to disable the optimizer tho, if you still see it running after you've disabled it and rebooted it might be because an optimizer job was started previous to you changing the setting... The only solution seems to be to let it run it's course (it won't be a big deal to let it happen once on a SSD, FWIW).

Kudos1 Stats

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

I'm not terribly disappointed that Symantec isn't on top of this issue, since SSD are pretty new tech... Kind of driven by enthusiasts right now (altho plenty of high-end laptops are already being sold w/SSD). But I AM kinda puzzled as to why they're pulling Norton Internet Security in this direction.

The idle optimzer function not only calls upon Windows' defrag service but it also apparently cleans temp files and whatnot... That doesn't seem to be tied at all, logically, to the concept of Internet Security. Symantec has made great strides since 2008 to make their security suite lean and mean, why they would bog it down w/something like this (which belongs in Systemworks or elsewhere) is beyond me.

Please please please don't add any more non-security related features  NIS! I suppose they may be trying to remove other causes of system-slowdown so that people don't take it out on NIS, but this is not the way ('specially when they're just duplicating stuff that Vista & Win7 already do fine on their own!).

Kudos0

Re: NIS 2010 makes a lot of writes to disk - not ideal for SSD

 SSD are rated for a lot more write cycles than you guys seem to think they are... At 'least current-gen SSD of any quality are. Look up Intel's specs sometime, they claim you could write 100GB to the drive every day and it'd still last 5 years, so even if Norton's writing as much as 1-5GB of data to the drive per day... That's not gonna have much of an impact on it's lifespan.

 

With respect I have looked up Intels' spec and I write software that is heavily I/O bound for a living so know about this.  It's a simple fact that Norton is writing well over 5GB per day on my systems even after NIS settings optimisations. This is also in many more individual writes than many applications will use for the same writes which means the effective re-written blocks to the SSD can be much higher even allowing for Windows write caching and Intel drive caching/optimisations.

Now, if I only ran NIS 2010 or used enterprise level drives (10 x the write cycles) then I wouldn't be too bothered, but the level of writes from NIS 2010 is 5 times all the other applications put together (on heavily loaded development PCs), which irrespective of SSD use is less than optimal given file I/O is a key issue in PC performance.  I can understand that the drive to reduce the memory overhead of anti-virus applications means that less internal application caching is going on, but the balance has tipped to far back to making a lot of writes in my opinion.  SSD use caused me to check how the many applications I use perform in relation to file I/O and NIS has come out worse by far, although it's still my favourite security package by far!   Hence my topic subject that this is 'not ideal' - its not a show stopper but needs consideration.

This thread is closed from further comment. Please visit the forum to start a new thread.