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Windows Excessive Disk Activity

Posted on 2014-10-02
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Last Modified: 2015-06-14
For some time now, my Windows (7) PC has had a problem with excessive disk activity.  Particularly on entering and resuming from Suspend/Sleep mode.  The disk activity light is solidly on for quite a long time (sometimes 30 minutes or more), during which time my PC becomes extremely sluggish.  Almost unresponsive with some apps.  I've tried using Task Manager and Sysinternals ProcMon, but they take 5 minutes or more to load, and by the time they do, I see nothing suspicious.  This problem is worst on enter/exit from Suspend mode, but occasionally it will occur in mid-session.
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Question by:beachbt
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by:John Hurst
ID: 40356776
Open Administrative Tools, and then Resource Monitor. Allow it to run and look at disk activity.

Windows runs Indexing updates, Windows Updates, Antivirus Updates and the schedule Maintenance program on an ongoing basis. So you are probably seeing this stuff running. Check the Resource Monitor and see what it says.
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Author Comment

by:beachbt
ID: 40356787
My system has no Resource Monitor in Administrative Tools.  It does have Performance Monitor, but I can find no way to make it display what task is using Disk IO.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 40356817
Yes, it looks like Windows 7 does not have Resource Monitor. I was using Windows 8.

Go to Performance Monitor and open it. In the graph window, top row, there is a green + icon. Add physical or logical disk. There are several variable, so pick the ones you want and see if that can shed some light.
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Expert Comment

by:aadih
ID: 40356818
In my experience: Updates (all kinds) usually don't take 30 minutes or more or slow down your PC to the extant you are seeing. And if they do, it's usually a one-time or temporary occurrence.

Check your hard disk.  And also scan for virii.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 40356825
@beachbt  - Please disregard the foregoing as it was not the best way to get Disk activity.

Here is your Resource Monitor in Windows 7:

Open Task Manager, click on the Performance Tab and then click on the Resource Button at the bottom. Resource Monitor opens and then click on the Disk tab.

This works. I have it running.
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Author Comment

by:beachbt
ID: 40356832
I tried that with Performance Monitor.  But all it shows is a COUNT of disk activity.  I already know that the activity is high.  What I need to know is WHAT TASK is using the disk.

As for virii, I already have McAfee (forced on us by company) and it automatically scans.
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Author Comment

by:beachbt
ID: 40356847
John,  Thanks, I found the Resource Monitor using the method you mentioned, and I see now how to list the tasks using the disk.  I will try this on the next occurrance.  I think I will have to leave it running constantly, since when this happens, it takes 5 minutes or more for me to load Task Manager!
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by:John Hurst
ID: 40356848
Use my post directly above that shows you how to use Resource Monitor from Task Manager. It works and shows you what programs are using disk.

I agree that, most times, the activity goes away in about 20 minutes.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 40356854
I think I will have to leave it running constantly, since when this happens, it takes 5 minutes or more for me to load Task Manager!

Yes, leave it running for about a half hour or even an hour to see what is using disk.
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by:Merete
ID: 40356860
Please check your antivirus software if it is set to do a scan on wake or at boot or anytime your windows is starts.
When it happens look on the taskbar right for any of your running tasks bring up the panel of your running tasks
When installing free software or browsers a lot offer a free scanning tool from Mcfee as well possibly you installed this extra tool?
example here
McAfee Security Scan Plus with Fire Fox
Have a look in your control panel > programs>uninstall a program see if you have any extra Mcfee tools or scanners installed.
Get to know you installed programs for this very reason.
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by:nobus
ID: 40358819
is this a recent problem?  then a system restore to a date it was ok can help you out quick
if  it just was building up slowly - probably malware -  so scan with your AV and mbam :
http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php
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Author Comment

by:beachbt
ID: 40362366
Nobus, this problem has been plaguing me for about 6 weeks now, and system restore is not an option because it is disabled by our IT administrators.

So obviously, I can't use Resource Monitor during the "Enter Sleep Mode" problem circumstance.  On the "Resume" phase, it's a little difficult as well, since my system is unresponsive for about 15 minutes, and I can't get the Resource Monitor window to become visible.  (Stuck at the Ctl-Alt-Del login screen.  Sometimes I hit ctl-alt-del and it goes away for about 5 minutes, only to come back and prompt me again for ctl-alt-del.  Does this 2 or 3 times before I finally get the Password entry window.)  But the last two times, after finally getting to the Desktop and to Resource Monitor, it was showing that "System" was the most active culprit, and Pagefile.Sys was the target.  Also, one time, a file named DataStore.edb was the target of significant activity.
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Author Comment

by:beachbt
ID: 40362397
Keep in mind, that the two disk activity targets described above were just what was visible AFTER my computer finally became responsive enough to display it.  There is no evidence that this was the status BEFORE, when the problem was worst.  Also, just today, Resource Monitor showed NO processes with disk activity, even though the disk activity light was flashing, and the even the ResMon chart clearly showed that something was using the disk.  See the attached screen image.

One additional bit of information.  Even after my system becomes responsive enough to actually work with, certain Apps (not all) take a VERY long time to load.  Excel and Firefox, in particular.  (1-2 minutes at times, even when other apps are quite zippy in responsiveness.)
BT
ResMonNull.jpg
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by:John Hurst
ID: 40362541
Even after my system becomes responsive enough to actually work with, certain Apps (not all) take a VERY long time to load

That is (most probably) not a problem with disk activity. I think something else is going on as well.

1. Scan thoroughly for viruses as was suggested.
2. Run Disk Cleanup to remove temporary files. Excess temp files slow things down.
3. After the above, run Disk Defrag as a highly fragmented drive can also slow things down.
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by:nobus
ID: 40363058
>>  because it is disabled by our IT administrators  <<  then the first thing to do is ask these guys to solve it imo !
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Accepted Solution

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beachbt earned 0 total points
ID: 40820360
The problem turned out to be a failing hard disk.  I cloned and replaced it with SSD.
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Author Closing Comment

by:beachbt
ID: 40828511
Completely solved the problem.
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