Computer slow and HDD LED lit most of the time

My computer runs Windows 7 Professional SP-1 32-bit.  The CPU is Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz  6MB Cache, LGA 1155; Motherboard: Asus P8H67-M PRO/CSM (REV 3.0); Installed memory: (4) Corsair Vengeance 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800);  The operating system resides on a 320 GB Western Digital hard drive -- WD3200AAJB;  Data resides on a Western Digital WD1002FAEX within a Synology DiskStation NAS.   Recently the computer has become extremely slow, and the amber HDD LED in the case is illuminated almost continuously.  In Windows Task Manager, I don't see any process using much CPU or memory resources.  Norton Internet Security and Malwarebytes do not report any virus or malware infections. I'd appreciate assistance in localizing the problem.
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ddantesAsked:
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Wayne88Commented:
Have you run the resource as well as process monitor to see what may be causing it?  The resource monitor can be used to track HDD activities via the disc tab.

http://www.7tutorials.com/how-use-resource-monitor-windows-7

First scan for virus and malware, if it's clean then turn off the antivirus, malware, security software.  Also run MSCONFIG from the start > search box and turn off all the startup programs for testing purpose.  If the HDD is fine then start enabling them one by one to find the culprit.

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Don S.Commented:
Two things generally can cause that:  1) not enough memory and the OS is constantly paging (probably not your issue)  2) failing HDD where the OS is going through read/retry excessively before it is able to retrieve what it wants.
Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
Or indeed having more than one Antivirus scanner installed and active at a time can also cause the issue.

Don't laugh, I have a client that installed 3 different AV product as well as anti spyware products all at the same time, just to be sure to be safe!  Needless to say his machine was a bit on the slow side!
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
Or possibly you have a small fixed size for your paging table (virtual memory) instead of letting Windows control it automatically.

Also download the manufacturer's util for determining the health of your hard disk.  See here http://support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?groupid=612&sid=3  If that finds nothing wrong with your hard disk then I'd consider a virus/malware infection as the most likely culprit.
Wayne88Commented:
A quick test will be to start the computer in safe mode.  Are you still having the same problem in safe mode?  If not and the HDD activity subsides then it's an application that's causing the problem.  If it's still the same problem then it can be a hardware issue (hdd, hdd controller, etc).
rindiCommented:
Symantec crapware being a huge resource hog, I'd remove that for a good AV tool. I have used panda free AV and it has always without issues. If this is a business PC, you of course would need the pro (non-free) version.
ddantesAuthor Commented:
Thanks to all Experts for commenting.  Since I've used Norton Internet Security for over a decade, I am skeptical that it suddenly degraded the system performance.  I've attached screen shots of the performance monitor, and the resource monitor under regular mode and safe mode.  In regular mode, the monitor didn't display properly -- it just showed the Windows wall paper.  The issue doesn't seem to happen in safe mode, so I'll try disabling startup programs in MSconfig, and then post again.  However, simply rebooting temporarily seems to help, so it may take some time to develop reliable test results...Performance MonitorResource Monitor, regular modeResource Monitor, safe mode
Wayne88Commented:
Hi ddantes, turning off the start up programs in msconfig is a good start.  Don't forget to select the Disk tab if you're ever able to run the resource monitor under normal operation and you want to sort by the largest average time to see which process is taking the longest and take it from there.  Let us know.

Wayne
rindiCommented:
I've never seen any good product from symantec, except one, it is a tool to remove all traces of their installed crapware.
nobusCommented:
run msconfig and try a clean boot :
select the startup tab - click disable all, and reboot to test
if it is better  -enable the programs in groups - or one at the time
ddantesAuthor Commented:
There were some unnecessary, and some redundant startup programs which I disabled in Msconfig>startup.   Since then, I haven't encountered the issue, although Resource Monitor still doesn't work.   Simply rebooting sometimes alleviated the problem temporarily, so I may need to repost if the issue re-occurs.  For now, it appears to have resolved after disabling selected startup programs which aren't needed anyhow.   I appreciate all Experts comments.  Some Experts made recommendations similar to the accepted solution, but not until some time later, so I'm reluctant to divide points.
Wayne88Commented:
Thanks ddantes, glad we can be a help!
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