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I just got a brand new 13" MacBook Pro at work. I have noticed that Spotlight has been running constantly giving me ~4 hours of battery life. The motivation for getting this laptop was to have the portability of an 8+ hour laptop.

Searching online, I saw indexing a directory that is synced by a service such as Dropbox/Syncthing would lead to excessive indexing. To eliminate this as the source of the problem, I excluded from the Spotlight indexing the directories updated using sync services. I even went so far as to exclude my entire home directory from Spotlight. Yesterday I tried deleting the Spotlight index forcing it to re-index, and it has been running constantly for the last 24 hours without change. The hard drive is 512 GB but only have 122 GB of data.

I now think the problem may be caused by Sophos, the required anti-virus software. I have seen other posts commenting on these applications conflicting but the solutions recommend removing Sophos, not an option for me. Are there settings that allow these applications to ignore each other? Perhaps I need to have Spotlight ignore the Sophos files. Where are the status files for Sophos stored?

Edit: Here are the results of the command mdutil -a -s (I get the same result with/without sudo):

2016-04-18 00:36:53.470 mdutil[12692:72953] Metadata.framework [Error]: mdsCopyStorePaths failed: (268435459) (ipc/send) invalid destination port
Spotlight server is disabled.

I am not entirely sure what to make of this. Viewing the system status using htop, the most demanding process is /System/Library/CoreSerices/Spotlight.app/Contents/MacOS/Spotlight using 112-160% of a CPU.

This Apple thread recommends completely deleting the /.Spotlight-V100/ directory and rebooting. I tried this but it does not seem to do anything. After rebooting, the folder was not recreated, Spotlight is still consuming a excessive system resources, and mdutil still reports the same thing (I tried enabling the server using the commandmdutil -a -i onbut this produces the same output asmdutil -a -s` shown above).

  • This just smacks of an XY Problem. Spotlight was busy indexing a new machine; so you kept changing what it should be indexing. Then when it was nearly finished you threw it out & made it start over. Then you assume another cause & ask about that instead. – Tetsujin Apr 13 '16 at 5:41
  • I let it run for three days without trying to address the problem. Should I expect it to take more than 72 hours to index 122GB of data? I want a laptop with 8+ hours of battery life, but I'm getting 3-4. The energy stats say spotlight is consuming a significant amount of battery power. – Steven C. Howell Apr 13 '16 at 10:07
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    72 hours is a huge problem, this isn't Spotlight, this is a bad movie. I would estimate Spotlight to eat the CPU and the I/O for 2 to 3 hours but no more. Did you look at Activity Monitor to see if there isn't another problem going on? – dan Apr 14 '16 at 20:38
  • @danielAzuelos, Activity Monitor shows several applications running but Spotlight is the only one using much CPU. The Energy tab shows Spotlight is the only application with energy impact above 1. – Steven C. Howell Apr 14 '16 at 21:30
  • Do you have any form of access to a file server either on your local network or on the Internet? ---- Do you have any software update in progress (check App Store)? ----- Do you see anything else which might be harvesting your filesystem? – dan Apr 15 '16 at 7:22
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They don't conflict. Spotlight is a pig on any first run on a newly accessed filesystem. On the other hand, Sophos will double the load caused by controlling all these filesystem accesses.

I suggest you to let Spotlight terminate its heavy initial run alone by temporarily turning off the On-Access control of Sophos: Sophos On-Access Off

I also suggest you to turn off the scan on Files on network volumes, because this will load your Mac, your network and finally your network volumes. On a well managed network, this scanning should be run directly on the storage servers.

Once this 1st run terminated, Spotlight will less tend to be a CPU and I/O hog.

  • Spotlight has been running for 8 hours after shutting off Sophos and disconnecting the Internet. It is still consuming significant amount of CPU and energy. – Steven C. Howell Apr 14 '16 at 21:33
  • This seems sufficient to resolve the question I asked. They do not conflict, but it may be good to turn off Sophos during the initial indexing. In my situation, it turned out that the system administrators had pushed out a corrupt file as part of their monitoring (maybe Sophos but maybe not) software. As I got them involved, they eventually found the corrupt file and had to remotely login to remove it. – Steven C. Howell Apr 21 '16 at 13:32

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