High Disk Usage - XP

I have a Dell Dimension that exhibits very high disk usage which makes the computer nearly impossible to use. There's no corresponding process with high CPU or memory usage.

I've done several AV scans which didn't find anything...

It doesn't seem to happen in safe mode. I've used msconfig to prevent nearly everything from starting while booting normally and that didn't have any effect.

Any ideas as to what could be happening here or how to see if there's a hidden process/service that might be causing this?
underIceAsked:
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StuWhitbyConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Get the Sysinternals Suite of Utilities onto a USB stick (http://technet.microsoft.com/sysinternals) and boot to safe mode.  Run up RootKitRevealer and make sure it comes back clean.  Run Autoruns and quickly check for any publishers that you don't recognise.  Disable these and boot normally.  

Get logged in and start Process Explorer as fast as possible.  Hit File/Run as Administrator, right-click the procexp64 or procexp process and set the priority to realtime.  Right-click the column headers and add columns, Process I/O, Delta Total Bytes and order by this.  See if the highest usage process is anything that has a right to be using a lot of I/O.  Right-click and suspend it, see if anything else takes over.

On the offchance that it's "monitored malware" where you kill it and it gets restarted, double-click the process and check the parent process.  Suspend both, kill them, remove them from startup via autoruns and you should be back to a healthy system.
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stavros41Commented:
Process Explorer (Downloadable) should tell you more about the processes running. Have you tried downloading and running malwarebytes? Install and update, then boot into safe mode and run and full scan.
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MutogiIT ManagerCommented:
Try running some of your AV products in SafeMode see what yah get...

are you resuming from sleep or hibernation that makes it unusable or fresh restart?

boot into bios and run a HD test may have bad sectors or a dying drive....
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Paul MacDonaldDirector, Information SystemsCommented:
DISKMON (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896646) can help too, but in the absence of any other indicators (high CPU or memory usage), it may be your hard drive is failing.
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underIceAuthor Commented:
Respondng to everyone in this comment:

Running anything while this is happening is nearly impossible. But I've done full Malwarebytes scans in safe mode with no results.

The problem happens after a restart (but also happens after sleep mode)

If I'm patient enough I can look at processes from all users, none show unusual activity.

I'll see if I can run process explorer but it's a real issue getting anything to run.
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Paul MacDonaldDirector, Information SystemsCommented:
It may be worth trying to boot to safe mode, just to see if that makes a difference.  Also, how much space is free on the drive?
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bigeven2002Commented:
If none of the above help, it may be due to severe disk fragmentation.  When was the last time you defragmented the drive?
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stavros41Commented:
Have you run a disk checking utility? Depending on your hard drive manufacturer, but they normally have a downloadable utility that can be run from CD/DVD.

I would advice you take a disk image or full backup first though.
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n2fcCommented:
You should provide a more detailed list of your hardware and software...
High disk usage might be a system of "memory starvation"... excessive paging due to insufficient RAM...
Might be a symptom of heavy fragmentation...  especially in the swap file...

Might be an errant virus scanner (especially the deadly duo: Norton or McAfee)...
Too many possibilities without a clearer picture of the config...

Provide a more detailed list to allow better focus...
You might also try looking at a HijackThis log as well!
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Sikhumbuzo NtsadaSenior IT TechnicianCommented:
How is the temperature in the BIOS?
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Heavy disk activity load could be due to fragmentation. Also check the HDD with its vendor made tools.
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underIceAuthor Commented:
No real fragmentation, no high memory usage, AV scans come up clean..in the process of checking the disk itself.

Everything takes so long, but I'll finish and let you know what it's found
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MutogiIT ManagerCommented:
Dumb question maybe, How many Scanners/AV programs do you have installed?

maybe uninstall ALL of them temporary see if that clears up.

I know Trend Micro and Norton dont like each other and i see this from time to time, clients dont believe the other and install more then one which is a NO NO
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Which AV is used by you? And Task Manager shows no memory usage, right?
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underIceAuthor Commented:
At the moment there is no AV and very little memory usage.
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MutogiIT ManagerCommented:
Run HiJackThis from Trend Micro and send report for us to look at.

also have you tried HD test from Bios?
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
At the moment there is no AV and very little memory usage.
And still high disk activity, right?
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underIceAuthor Commented:
yep....grinding away when booted normally, seems ok in safe mode. I reseated the drive in case there was something going on there...long shot.
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Can you check if you have compression enabled on it? Do you have the files which names are blue highlighted?
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nobusCommented:
i would start by investigating the basics :
1-how much free disk space left?  normally 15% is considered a minimum to avoid excessive disk trashing
2-run a diag on the disk - it may have bad sectors
3-if ok, run a chkdsk on the drive to repair file system problems
4-after this defrag the drive
5-check for tasks running in background (maybe malware also)
6-use task management  >processes tab - click view, selct colums and select  all I/O columns, they may give more info
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underIceAuthor Commented:
Great resource....didn't solve all the issues but was able to narrow it down. Still not working right though...enough time has been spent trying to run it down.
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