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Hey was wondering if anyone knows the source of the problem here.

My laptop is pretty old and I haven't upgraded any parts since I bought it. Anyway when I start an application, or even do something trivial like click a button in a browser window the HDD light lights up and it seems to do an insane amount of activity before coming to rest again.

I don't have any windows warnings telling me my virtual memory is running low or paging file or whatever - but maybe I need to try replacing my HDD/RAM?

Anyone know the likely issue? My filesystem doesn't need defragged and the system is malware free. There are no massive RAM hoggers running, just skype, a firewall and anti-virus.

The system is a 64bit Athlon 2GHz running with 1 gig of RAM. Goes without saying, but the HDD was never this active and performance wasn't as sluggish.

The fan is always running as well, which it never used to do. But I guess this may be due to dust building up inside the parts?

edit: os is XP and antivirus is AVG Free. will give the software below a go and report back cheers...

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Your description suggests that memory is not the bottleneck here, but 1 GB of memory does still make me shudder. Memory is relatively cheap, so I'd suggest adding as much as you can - this should help provide a kind of immunity to the problem you are having (but the ultimate cause appears to be hard disk fragmentation, or possibly the fact that the hard disk is nearly full?). –  sblair Jul 27 '10 at 0:28

5 Answers 5

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It's always possible that the drive is worn/damaged. Try finding out how healthy it is by installing some software that asks the drive for its S.M.A.R.T. readings.

I personally suggest Speccy, it's a fast way to get some diagnostics.

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ok ran speccy there. Can you tell me what metrics I should be looking at? Temperature is 51 degrees Celsius, read error rate is 100... –  rutherford Jul 27 '10 at 1:18
    
That temperature is a bit on the high side, but nothing to be worried about, probably the result of dust accumulating in your fan over the years. Speccy itself gives you a bottom line of all the data it gathers. If it says your drive's status is good, there's nothing to worry about yet. –  Kenny Rasschaert Jul 27 '10 at 1:26

Silly question, but have you tried defragging it? - I'd suggest jkdefrag (there's a newer version called mydefrag but its bloaty rubbish IMO) since it does a few things regular defrag won't do - since excessive hard drive spinups can be a result of excessive fragmentation

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What OS are you running? –  Moab Jul 27 '10 at 0:18

You might want to run something like SpinRite (grc.com) on your hard drives to see if they are in "near-fail" mode. If you get a lot of retry events on the HD then it will slow down greatly also lead to more heat than usual, thus the excessive fan operation.

You didn't say what OS, or what virus checker. Some virus checkers (Norton for my situation) are WAY too active and don't always show up accurately in the process table. If you can do it safely, turn off the virus checker, reboot and see if it improves the responsiveness.

Another potential silent hog is the "Microsoft indexing service". If you don't need it then turn it off since for most folks it's just a PITA.

Hotei

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Yeah, defrag is good. I would strongly recommend uninstalling anything you don't need, cleaning up the HDD to delete anything you aren't actually using, then running a defrag. If you can get to 30% or more free space and low fragmentation it should get better.

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Make sure the disk drive is not more than 90% full. If the drive is fuller than that, then defragging won't help (much, or for long). If there's less than 10% free space, then Windows may have trouble because it tries to swap memory to disk, since the machine only has 1GB RAM.

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