Constant disk and CPU activity mystery

  Ian in Northampton 14:18 01 Sep 13
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Answered

My wife has a month old Acer laptop. The disk activity light is almost constantly on, either solid or flickering. There are no apps running. Checking in task manager, no process seems to be using more than 2% of the CPU - but looking at the 'performance' tab, CPU usage is typically a minimum of 20% and often above 50% for several seconds. Sometimes, disk/CPU usage is so high that the laptop loses the pojnter - or it won't move. Like I said: this, despite there being (apparently) nothing running. Anyone have any thoughts? We're taking it with us on holiday tomorrow, so I don't have time to do anything other than 'quick and dirty' with it.

  Chronos the 2nd 14:27 01 Sep 13

It may be the indexing service, but it usually doesn't run that long. If you are using win 7, run the resource monitor. Check the CPU tab to find out which process is hogging up CPU cycles. Also check the disk tab and see which files are being read/written. Have you tried cold booting the computer?

Do you have superfetch on? If so it might be possible that feature is running erratically and thrashing your HDD. If you open up your services.msc in your run command - it should be listed as "Superfetch". If it's on - try disabling it. Some people have reported better performance with it off anyway.

  Ian in Northampton 15:31 01 Sep 13

Thanks Chronos. I'll take a look at those things. Yes, it's Win 7. Where do I find Resource Monitor - somewhere other than Task Manager, I guess?

  northumbria61 15:37 01 Sep 13

Click the Start button and type Resource Monitor into the search box.

  Woolwell 15:44 01 Sep 13

Another way to get to Resource Monitor is to open task manager and on the performance tab click on the box for Resource Monitor.

  Ian in Northampton 16:00 01 Sep 13
Answer

Thanks guys.

  Ian in Northampton 16:36 01 Sep 13

Well, I think I now know it's svchost.exe - multiple instances are thrashing the disk. However, what to do about it is a different matter, if my initial research is anything to go by. I'll take a more in-depth look when we get back. Thanks again to all - I'll mark as resolved.

  Woolwell 16:40 01 Sep 13

How often has she used the laptop? Could be indexing.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 17:37 01 Sep 13

svchost.exe is used to run various dll files for the services that windows uses.

its likely on any windows PC you will have 10-12 of these processes running

The only way to reduce them is to cut down on the muber of services i.e. disable those non essential services you don't use.

Black viper's site tells you exactly what to (and how) disable services for the various Windows op systems.

  Ian in Northampton 18:27 01 Sep 13

Woolwell: it's scarcely been used at all - there are, for example, not even any user files (documents etc.) on it, so it would be strange if it were indexing as the culprit.

Fruit Bat /\0/\: many thanks - I'll take a look when we return. It interested me that two of the many svchosts that were running were way ahead of the others in terms of disk accesses.

  alanrwood 19:22 01 Sep 13

svchosts will run several dlls that are required for Windows to run at all. These are not your problem. It may be another problem which is using svchost to run ie some nasty or other. Run a virus scan and a malware scan.

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