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I'd like to see if a hard disk is being actively used right now (a hddled-like indicator) and what particular files are being accessed. How can I achieve this in command line with SSH?

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You can see the usage by using a tool like iotop. You can see a list of open files by using the command lsof.

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In addition to iotop/lsof that was already mentioned, some other options include nmon, iostat, or atop. See this post on StackOverflow or this other question here on ServerFault.

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Assuming you wanted to run the command through ssh and not just ssh directly to the machine. The command from ssh will look some thing like this:

ssh <hostname> lsof <options>

If you need this to run as root from a script, slightly fancy use of sudo and ssh keys should get you no requirement for a password. But be careful slightly to fancy use of sudo and ssh keys can just up and give anybody root access to your box.

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