I came across a process running on my iMac at home tonight that was consuming a fair chunk of RAM, and a consistent 40-50% of my CPU while accessing each and every hard drive I have hooked up. The process in question is called build_hd_index and is part of Apple’s built in Remote Management software in OS X.
The specific file can be found in /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ as part of ARDAgent.app (ARDAgent.app/ Contents/Support/build_hd_index) and is used by the program (Apple Remote Desktop Agent) to build user and applications reports to be sent back to Remote Desktop Admin (an Apple program for managing multiple computers that is awesome). The reason this was even turned on was that as part of an attempt to get a VPN server working I added my home computer to Remote Desktop Admin on my work computer. By default (as it’s set in my preferences and I believe always default) it will gather reports on certain data which run at midnight in order to cache the data on the computer running Remote Desktop Admin so you don’t have to requery such information every time you wish to look at it.
A quick Google search on build_hd_index showed several other people having issues with it suggesting ways to neuter the process (which would break System updates) or other attempts to disable it.
To turn it off, on every computer running Remote Desktop Admin you need to tell it to stop collecting data (Get Info on the computer) or you can force this by removing the plist file in charge of ARDAgent at /Library/Preferences/com.apple.ARDAgent.plist . More of this is covered in detail in Apple’s KBase article.
So as of a result, since my work computer is a laptop and is not on, let alone at work at midnight I’ve turned off uploading information at scheduled intervals - however I still want my work computers to cache the data as the information is useful to debugging why something may be happening.