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I have been given a laptop by the good folks at my company on which to do my work (Java development). I usually use eclipse as my primary development platform.

The laptop is a Dell D830 and runs Windows 7 - 32 bit. Although the processor supports a 64 bit instruction-set, licensing limits me to running the 32 bit OS.

The HDD is a WD1600BEVT (Western Digital).

I have noticed that my disk is always very slow.

Windows start up is usually pretty quick, however as soon as I log on, my disk light stays on and usually, the laptop takes about 4 minutes (after logging in -- immediately upon getting the prompt to press Ctrl + Alt + Del to log in) before it's usable.

Questions:

  • Is this expected behavior?
  • What can I do to examine the disk and determine the cause of the problem?
  • What can I do to improve my disk's performance?
  • Any optimizations you may be able to suggest?

Other Questions:

  • Some have suggested running Process Monitor (from sysinternals), but how would i get the log since start up?
  • Instead of trying to fix this myself, should I simply push this onto the system administrator?

Thanks all.

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2  
How much RAM have you got? –  Mark Dec 22 '10 at 20:54
    
have you checked the SMART status of the disk and run ScanDisk? –  Xantec Dec 22 '10 at 21:00
    
Instead of trying to fix this myself, should I simply push this onto the system administrator? - you could. I'd agree with @Xantec - get HDTune & do an error check to see if the hdd's going bad –  Sathya Dec 22 '10 at 21:30
    
(PS: If you have a 32-bit license - you can always switch over to the 64-bit edition w/o need for an additional license) –  Sathya Dec 22 '10 at 21:31
    
I have a D830 as well at work and any time the hard drive is heavily accessed the machine grinds to a halt, it's got plenty of RAM... –  Mokubai Dec 22 '10 at 21:43

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Use Resource Monitor to see what is using the disk.

http://mintywhite.com/windows-7/7maintenance/resource-monitor-check-key-subsystems-pc/ .

or enable boot logging using another program, may give some insight.

http://www.msigeek.com/6231/how-to-enable-system-boot-time-logging-using-process-monitor-tool

.

You might also have a look at the reliability monitor http://www.msigeek.com/5518/measure-hardware-and-software-problems-using-reliability-monitor-in-windows-7

. .

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How would i do so on start-up? I'd like to find out what is bringing my disk to a grinding halt at start-up. –  Scoobie Jan 3 '11 at 16:44
    
Good point, you can use another program to enable boot logging, might give some insight to what is going on...check my edit –  Moab Jan 3 '11 at 17:08
    
I would also not the system administrator so he can read the performance logs. –  surfasb Feb 27 '11 at 19:21

It's not expected behavior, no.

I would suspect you have some kind of disk maintenance application that's scheduled, probably trying to scan and/or defrag the drive. (I know that Windows Vista did that automatically; it drove my brother nuts because of the constant disk activity.)

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Task Manager / Resource Monitor should show you what's going on.

It may be virus-scanning software, or it may be services that the prior user installed that you don't need (or both). Look in the system services section of the control panel. Or, fire up the Add/Remove Programs utility, and see what's in there.

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When you log in, User key processes that are set to run begin. The various widgets and crap that accumulate start to launch and run.

My theory is you start running into seeks all over the disk as each application needs different bits of data. I suppose my theory could be validated using a SSD where seeks are much faster.

I have a 7200 RPM 320GB and Win XP SP3, on a Dell D830 as well and I notice a similar issue.

Boot to the GINA is reasonable. But watch the disk light. It goes on and on for a while even after the GINA is up. Then on login can be 2-3 minutes before the desktop is usable. Then launching apps is a problem as each hits the disk, so a reboot for me is very painful, time wise.

I have paired down services that start and what is starting via Startup menu group, Run Key, etc. Still not much success in speeding it up.

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