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Open your Activity monitor in the Utility folder and look for mds_stores CPU and CPU time values. The CPU should be <0.5% and time depends but about a hour. If you have higher CPU % values then your spotlight is active. If not, then you have something on the drive needing updates, or synchronization, or back up. For that look who is active, and ...
It's probably Spotlight indexing the drive, which is going to include full-text indices of those PDF scans if they've been OCR'd. If you want detail--to see the status of the indexing, for example, there is a handy chart at http://commandlinemac.blogspot.com/2008/12/spotlight-on-command-line.html
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