Constant hd and cpu activity, slow computer

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Hoping someone can help me here before I go and have to re-install Windows.

This started last night while I was playing Deus Ex. All the sudden I started lagging out and freezing, so I saved the game and went to see what was going on with the computer.

The hd is going constantly, the light is on constantly and the drive is constantly reading/writing something, the sound alone is driving me nuts, but when this happens the computer becomes almost non-responsive. It took about 6 tries to get task manager to open, I'm unable to open or close a page or do anything. Sometimes I can do stuff but it's extrememly slow, like it'll take 30 seconds for a page to open and then it's super slow.

This morning it was fine, then it started again about 30 minutes ago and is still going. I see no windows updates running, no antivirus, no backup, nothing.

When this is happening I'm showing 10-40% cpu usage and about 3gb of ram usage, yet under processes I see nothing using cpu at all. I have updated and ran Malwarebytes and MSE last night and found nothing. I did a disk cleanup and defrag about 3 days ago as I regularly do.

Right now while I'm typing this with only Firefox running I'm showing 40% cpu usage. The ram fluctuates between 1.5 and 3.5gb of ram usage, and the hd is going nuts constantly doing something.

What is causing my hd to go nuts, high cpu usage and slow my computer to a crawl? I'm stumped.
Now after about 30 minutes it's gone back to normal 2% cpu usage and the hd is quiet again. WTH?

EDIT: I updated my Firefox yesterday to 10.0. Wierd after I typed this I got a update warning from Firefox. It says "Security and Stability update, Firefox 10.0, we highly recommend you update as soon as possible".

But Firefox wouldn't cause that to happen while I'm playing Deus Ex would it? Just a thought.

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?

You said in task manager/processes you see nothing at all? When you are on the performance tab, select "view/show kernel times". Is all the cpu usage in kernel time?
Isn't task manager "processes" the same as resource monitor cpu tab? There is no "processes" using cpu more than 0-1% in task manager when this happens yet I show up to 40% cpu usage under "performance".

I'm running Vista 64. Yes I've cold booted the computer several times since it began happening.

The computer is running completely normal now. Zero sounds from the hd.

Usually if this happens I find that a backup is running or Windows updates are installing but that's not the case. I've never had it happen for no reason and I've been running Vista for about 5yrs now.


Yes, but resource monitor also has the disk tab that shows I/O and a memory tab. You said the processes are showing no cpu usage so thought it would show up under the disk tab.
Have you checked your event viewer for the times this has occurred?

You could also open up your command prompt and try out SFC /scannow. Although you might need your VISTA CD to do a proper SFC.

Do you have superfetch on? If so it might be possible that feature is running erratically and thrashing your HDD.
SFC?? I have no idea what that stands for. I have run diagnostics on both hdd and run memtest. No issues.

I've had this machine running for 6 months. It's not a new build.

This occurs about once a day, the rest of the time the machine works normal even with gaming.

I figured that if I can't figure it out, nobody else is either. So I guess it's a fresh Windows install for me if it happens again.
SFC is System file checker, it checks to see if some files in Windows are corrupt.

Take a look here:

Did you check to see if super fetch is on? 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.

One last note, i've experienced the same issue you have stated with the HDD thrashing for apparently no reason - and i've had it occer on multiple completely different systems. Although the times between the occurances seemed to be much longer than your issue (say about once every 2-3 months for me).

AFAIK I never found a fix for it - and I thought to myself that it might just be the HDD choking/ or somehow just getting confused (firmware problem maybe?).

It happened in the middle of Deus Ex and I was not online at the time.

Superfetch is set to automatic. If that's the problem, how would it have turned itself on? Like I said this computer has been running flawlessly for 6 months. I'm not even gonna try turning it off unless I have the issue again.

If superfetch is set to automatic it will automatically be used whenever you reboot and as vista "learns" your usage patterns.

If your issue happens again - try turning it off (by setting it to disabled), you can always turn it back on if this causes unnecessary problems for you (it shouldn't).

I'm out of ideas on this one - hopefully you can get it resolved. Take care.
I don't know I'm stumped, ran chkdsk but it closes itself at the end, can't really see what it says it closes so fast. I'm pretty sure it said it found problems, but I can't read the rest it disappears so fast and closes itself.

I'm now running Data Life Guard diagnostics quick test (again) and it says estimated time 2 minutes. I'm now at 12 minutes and it appears to be stuck.

UPDATE: Data Life Guard said it tests ok.
Ok I'm not familiar with checking the event viewer. What exactly am I looking for in there?

I do see lots of errors and warnings just about every day since July.

Am I looking under administrative events? If so, the ones from today are microsoft anti-malware errors, DHCP client warnings, Service control manager event log provider errors, ntfs errors and event log errors.

Do any of those jump out at anyone? NTFS?
I posted Vista64. I'm no software expert for sure, need help with this.

It found no bad sectors but it does say this:

Checking file system on C:
The type of the file system is NTFS.
WARNING! F parameter not specified.
Running CHKDSK in read-only mode.
Cleaning up instance tags for file 0xed39.
224832 file records processed. 567 large file records processed. 0 bad file records processed. 0 EA records processed. 60 reparse records processed. 293386 index entries processed. 0 unindexed files processed. 224832 security descriptors processed. Cleaning up 19 unused index entries from index $SII of file 0x9.
Cleaning up 19 unused index entries from index $SDH of file 0x9.
Cleaning up 19 unused security descriptors.
34278 data files processed. CHKDSK is verifying Usn Journal...
35797968 USN bytes processed. Usn Journal verification completed.
Windows found problems with the file system.
Run CHKDSK with the /F (fix) option to correct these.

What does it mean F parameter not specified?

And how do I run chkdsk with the /F, can you please explain to me how to fix. Is this my problem?

Should I boot to my Windows disk and choose repair?

Open a CMD window (run>cmd) then type
CHKDSK X: /f/r
where X is that drive's letter (probably C in most computers).

It will ask you to reboot to be able to run, type Y and reboot your PC.
If there were bad sectors it should have marked them out. I would say you can run another defrag on it and see if that original problem still happens.
It does take a long time to run with the switches /f and /r enabled, but this way when it finds something bad it actually does something about it.
You could run it again like you did the first time and look for the report.
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