Start saving a few bucks for a new hard drive, before the Thailand floods chase drive prices further through the roof...
That HD of yours is on its last legs!
Thanks for the good cheer. I doubt I will replace the hard drive if this one fails; a new HDD would cost as much as another used R5x or T4x, until production hits full stride again. (How many 2.5" laptop PATA drives are still produced, anyway?) I had heard about the price spike after the floods, but when I checked last night....oy.
Anyway: I am almost certain this drive is not the OE. It's a Toshiba MK4026GAX, with a power-on time of 482 days, per Speccy. It runs at 5400 rpm; all original R51 drives were 4200 rpm, per the hardware maintenance manual at the Lenovo site.
That gives me hope it's not simply dying of old age. The drive passed all the tests at Lenovo Toolbox; it's gotten a bit less grindy since I disabled all the disk-heavy stuff. Now I wonder if some process or service is accessing the hard drive, to make it grind. As noted, it sounds just like Superfetch in the minutes after a Win7 boot.
So, I stopped every non-critical service I could find, then removed Lenovo System Update and Toolbox. I checked task manager and do not see anything suspicious....which makes me think the drive is simply not seated correctly.
If it gets worse I might take a deep breath and open the case to inspect it. My fat-fingered skills for fine-tuning tech hardware are limited....as long as it stays no worse than it is I will just live with it---and back up the few mission-critical files on this puppy obsessively.
If my finances keep me in the $100-ish segment next time I need a laptop, I will shop local....