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I'm using Windows Vista and I am curious what Vista is doing with my harddisk? I have constant hard disk activity even if the PC is idling. If I start to use the PC actively there is less HDD noise, but still constant activity.

Can someone tell me what's going on there? How can I stop it because this greatly decreases the lifetime and performance of my HDD.


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Could you edit your question title to be more specific? – tnorthcutt Sep 20 '10 at 16:33
I know this might not be an answer, but who would want to run Vista when Windows 7 is out? You do realise that Vista is the 2nd worst OS MS have ever produced? – JL. Sep 20 '10 at 16:44
JL: Several reasons. OEM hardware with no W7 drivers available, no money/time to upgrade to 7, too familiar with Vista to want to change right away... I've met people who still use Windows ME. – TuxRug Sep 20 '10 at 17:59
up vote 11 down vote accepted

Could be indexing service (which you can turn off), defragmentation (which you can schedule) or virus scanning (which you can schedule or disable). If you find it disturbing (a reasonable reaction) you can opt to use the "suspend" button when you step away from the PC.

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Process Monitor allows you to see what happens with your hard-drive in real-time.

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yes i know, but it's "too much real-time" for me because processes are jumping so fast in this list that i can't track them. in one second process X is using Y% cpu in another 250 ms process Z is using V%. maybe i'm too old to lookup fast enough ;) – Chris Sep 20 '10 at 15:14
You can run it, then disable capturing (File -> Capture Events) after you think there is enough data (perhaps a minute); now you can scroll more slowly through the list to see what's happening. The program is about File I/O, while it allows you to track CPU the default settings won't do that. Make sure you are using the default filter (Filter -> Reset Filter) and that thus the most right button on the bar is disabled... This way you can look exactly at what is happening, it's way better than guessing and disabling the wrong things and allows you to act more precisely. – Tom Wijsman Sep 20 '10 at 15:52
+1 as a thank you for your comment :) – Chris Sep 20 '10 at 17:42

Vista defragments in the background. That's probably what you're hearing/seeing. Don't worry about it, it's OK.

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I believe that sound you hear is not actually your HDD grinding, but rather the slow devouring of your computer's very soul by Windows Vista. ;)

I understand you feel you can't upgrade just yet, but I'd seriously suggest taking a look at Windows 7 pretty soon. It's much more complete, polished, and performant all around than Vista, and on less hardware. Vista was a decent try, but it was not really finished when it came out. The whole development process of Vista was one big horror show from start to finish, though the goal was a good one. That said, they really came back strong with Win 7 and made it what Vista should have been. Look into it as soon as you can.

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So far my experience is that Windows 7 gets rid of some of Vista's problems only to introduce new ones. :-( Was excited to switch to 7 at first, but time has left me disappointed. Longing for the good ol' days when XP came out. I absolutely HATED the graphical style of it, but other than that it was so much better... – Brian Knoblauch Sep 23 '10 at 17:06

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