Is windows Vista hogging my hard drive?



I'm quite new to windows Vista, having just purchased a brand new laptop with
the Business version pre-installed, and I'm wondering why my computer seems
to be constantly - and I mean constantly - accessing the Hard Drive.

The computer is performing slightly slower than I would expect of it. I have
an Intel Core 2 Duo 1.8GHz, 2GB DDR2 667MHz RAM, 160GB 7200rpm hard drive,
and a Geforce 8600GT 256mb dedicated graphics card. Installed on the computer
in terms of utilities programs are Vista Business, McAfee security centre
with the latest updates, and the pre-installed Dell Support software.

However, since I have had the computer, it seems to have been constantly
accessing the hard drive, despite the fact that only a small amount is used -
I still have well over 100GB free. I have run some games, which have run
slower that expected, and Office seems to take longer to load that it should.
I have run multiple virus scans, yet detected only a couple of tracking
cookies, all promptly eliminated.

Furthermore, Task manager detects no CPU-heavy programs running, and the CPU
usage itself is very good, even when running games or utility programs, such
as programming software or spreadsheets. Likewise, nothing appears to be
hogging much memory. All the same, under the performance tab, with just
firefox and Task manager open, both cores appear to be jumping between 21%
activity and 60% activity, whilst the Physical memory usage is staying at
around 1.1GB usage.

In summary, what is going on? Why is my hard drive constantly being
accessed? What could be slowing down my computer? If it's a virus, how do I
remove it? If it's a utility, can I disable it? I'm not particularly
interested in real-time utilities as I operate in an extremely secure
university network, and so the only time I really need any utility/antivirus
programs is when I run them in a batch overnight on the weekend.

I would be extremely grateful for any help anyone can offer. Thank you.


R. McCarty

Vista has a background service that indexes your drive(s). The Indexing
catalogs the content on your drive so that searching is more effective. On
a new PC this indexing takes a while to complete and draws on system
resources until the catalogs are built. If this searching capability is not
important item for you it's possible to disable the Windows Search service.

The speed and performance will improve as the system "Learns" what
applications you use most frequently. In comparison to XP, Vista uses a
much larger amount of system memory. Using upwards of 1.0 Gigabytes
of RAM isn't unusual. There are many more System Services that run on
a Vista PC than earlier versions of Windows.

Also, Vista performs background operations such as defragmenting the
drive during idle periods and this might account for the disk accesses.

Finally, both McAfee and Norton software impacts the performance of
any PC it's installed on. Unless your Dell is one of the new Vostro units
it likely shipped with lots of Trials and extra programs that many users
won't use. It's probably a good idea to do a "De-Dell-ify" or remove the
programs using Control Panel, Programs applet.

Steve Thackery

I would say this is completely normal.

Vista hits the hard drive quite heavily for the first several days after
installation - this is mostly due to the new search system which indexes
every file in your data area. It will settle down after a week or so.

Also, Vista pre-loads files into memory if - based on your patterns of
useage - it anticipates that you will want to use them. Again, this causes
disk activity that isn't obviously related to anything you are doing.

There are another couple of things Vista will do: it spends time shuffling
files around on your hard disk to improve the boot time; and it defrags the
disk once per week. Again, these happen without you knowing about them
apart from the disk activity.

I also wonder if your security software might be scanning the disk, bearing
in mind it's a new install.

I'm not really sure why your computer is that bit slower than you would have
expected. Perhaps you would look in Task Manager for us and tell us just
what it is that's using 21-60% of the processor time - that would help us
home in on the possible problem quite a bit.

Certainly it should speed up slightly when it's got the indexing and other
stuff sorted out. Maybe your expectations were too high?

Personally, I've been disappointed with the performance of every laptop I've
ever owned.

For now, though, I would give it a couple of weeks. If it still isn't
satisfactory, take it back to the place you bought it and discuss it with


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