1. If it only happens when there's a disk in the drive, then that would seem to be the culprit. Either make sure that you never boot up with a disk in the drive, or go into your BIOS and make sure that your computer is set to boot from the hard drive as first choice.
2. The flag is a shortcut to the Action Centre. If it's telling you that a backup is in progress, are you sure that you don't have an automatic backup schedule set?
To check, go to Start>Control Panel>System and Security>Backup and Restore. Under the Backup heading, you should see details of any scheduled backups. You can switch these off (if you want to) by clicking "Turn off schedule" in the top left-hand corner.