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Problem with incessant disk activity

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Senior Member
Dec 27, 2008
I'm working on a customer's computer and there is a problem with nearly constant and excessive hard disk activity at idle. Makes the computer very slow to respond to keyboard and mouse input. Seems to be very busy with something but I can't figure out what. This is an HP i3-based laptop with a 500 gb 54k spinner hard disk. 4 gb of RAM.

Hard disk has two partitions, one for the system and one for storage. And then of course there is the hidden restore partition.

CPU activity is very low.

Task Manager Resource meter shows physical memory usage to be 45-65%

I've scanned for malware and found a few things like Conduit and SearchProtect. Cleaned all that stuff out. I used four different malware scanning/cleaning tools: Malwarebytes, Hitman Pro, ADWcleaner and Eset Online Scanner. I checked for rootkits with Malwarebytes. So I don't think malware is the problem.

I also disabled all unnecessary services in startup.

I ran sfc /scannow and chkdsk /f /r from command prompt. No issues reported with either.

I checked the Smart Drive data with CrystalDiskInfo. No issues.

Device Manager shows no hardware issues.

Right now I'm defragging.

Any ideas as to what could be causing this incessant disk activity?
Either bad software or bad blocks that Windows is constantly trying to access IMO. Wife's PC was also getting sluggish at boot and login, found out she had 5 bad blocks in system areas :mad:
Use the built in Performance Monitor or a program like Sysinternals Process Explorer. You can add disk i/o (more than what you expect) as a column in Process Explorer; it is very good.

EDIT: As Kenrou said, failing hard drives act similar to ones under heavy load. Be sure to check the SMART data if Process Explorer doesn't turn anything up.

I think earthdog just went through this same sort of issue with a winten machine and the fix was an os reinstell.
A large part of the problem turned out to be an incredible amount of file fragmentation. Windows Defragger reported that the C and D partitions had never been defragged. After finishing the defragging, disk activity is significantly lower and the machine is performing much better. But still poling the disk more than I'm used to seeing.

Okay, in Task Manager's Resource Montor, what is the difference between "Standby" memory and "Free" memory? It reports 1692mb of Standby but only 69mb of Free.
Nah he removed the camera software and it was good as new :p

This is a Win 7 machine I'm working on but I'd like to hear more about ED's experience. Can you point me to the post?
I've come across several HP's where excess resource usage (CPU%, Handles#, disk I/O,... ) has been caused by the HP OEM crapware, uninstall or deactivate all that you can.

JRT might flush out more crapware dregs.