Sluggish response and extreme hard disk activity

Posted on 2004-09-20
Last Modified: 2008-03-17

The other day I received a generic message about Windows running low on virtual memory.

As you do, I thought nothing of it.

When I woke the next morning, I noticed that Windows was in the process of a reboot however the reboot does not complete, and the system reboots again before the log in screen.

I have attempted to log in through safe mode, and through Last Known Good Configuration to no avail (both trigger a reboot also).

I have a separate partition with another installation of XP on it which I can boot into, however it takes upwards of 30 mins to get into and when I do get in, there is practically constant hard disk activity and it takes a very long time to perform any tasks, let alone starting a program.

Things I have tried:

- There is little to no CPU load on the system
- No new programs or drivers have been loaded.
- I attempted to do a repair installation, but the drive (C:) is listed as an unknown partition
- I ran "Fixboot" from the recovery console. (Haven't tried 'FixMBR' yet)

I did receive a symantec warning relating to changes to the configuration (which makes me worry about a possible hacking)

I really don't want to have to format the partition if I can help it so anything you can suggest would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks very much.
Question by:Michael_OBrien
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Expert Comment

ID: 12107499
You may want to download the latest HyjackThis and let these"experts look it over and find the problem.
Of corse you know to run the spyware programs like adaware, spy bot search and destroystinger and ect.
It  may be a regestry problem that you are having.  I use Regesrty First Aid from Rose City software.  This little program is not free ($21.00) but can clear out all the invalid paths.  We have all heard of"don't go missing around in your regestry unless you do a backup and know what your doing."  This program creates a backup first before you delete the invalid paths.  You can download the program and see how many problems you have first,(you just may want to purchase it.)

Expert Comment

ID: 12107660
Try chkdsk from the Recovery Console!

Author Comment

ID: 12107689
Sorry forgot to mention that I tried chkdsk too.

When I ran it without flags it said there were no probs, then I ran with /P and I think it came back ok (sorry can't quite remember)

What I might have to try is to format the other partition (which isn't particularly important) and see if I can boot into it correctly.

Maybe I can try a virus scan from it if it works properly.

Expert Comment

ID: 12107707
You can try reinstalling over Windows XP on the bad partition... this usually will work. Just try a repair installation. PS. you shouldn't ignore System is low on virtual memory warnings. This indicates a real problem in the amount of memory/disk space vs. programs you are running.

Author Comment

ID: 12108339
Thanks I did try to do a repair install however the partition is listed as "unknown" which is a bad sign. It sounds like partition is corrupt.
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LVL 11

Accepted Solution

Paul S earned 500 total points
ID: 12108357
For future help make a bootable windows CD:

Follow these steps to clean your computer:

did you try "chkdsk /r" ?

Test your hard drive, i like the ultimate bood cd for that:

Author Comment

ID: 12108452
I will try chkdsk /r tonight. And I will also try fixmbr (not that I'm holding my breath!)

My guess is that the extra HDD activity is due to my second installation trying to read from the corrupted installation. I might try to format the second partition which isn't particularly important and see if I have any joy there.

It won't be the end of the world if I can't get into the original partition, it's just a pain having to lose a few files and having to go through the process of installing everything again. Luckily I keep all of my important data on a separate drive so it is safe at least!!

Do you think deleting the page file may do anything for me?
LVL 91

Expert Comment

ID: 12110252
i think you are possibly infected, so run these  (updated or latest version)

Spybot :
adaware :                       online scan for trojans
STINGER      scans for 48 last virus      
LVL 19

Expert Comment

ID: 12111811
try this :

in the task manager, use "view - select columns" and add the memory usage statistics.
this enables listing the memory usage of all processes which in turns gives you information on processes that might be corrupted thus leading to the consumption of large memory area's.

eg when explorer.exe shows up using more than 20 MBs of memory you'll have to restart explorer or re-install windows.

Author Comment

ID: 12117319
Thanks so much for your help.

I tried chkdsk /r last night and bang it works again.

So I am guessing that my virtual memory problem caused parts of the system to become corrupt. Or something to that effect anyway.

Again, thanks very much

Michael O'Brien.
LVL 11

Expert Comment

by:Paul S
ID: 12119526
"chkdsk /r" checks your hard drive for bad sectors which "chkdsk /f" does not. You probably have bad sectors. Run a "chkdsk" and look at the summary. how much space is in bad blocks? you may want to replace the drive.

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