My computer has become awfully slow lately. I suspect that there might be some problems with my hard drive as every time it hangs, it works its ass off.. Do you have any suggestions for how to determine if the problem is related to the hard drive?
Get Microsoft / Sysinternals Process Explorer and then click on one of the four graphs at the top on the toolbar (Doesn't matter which).
Next, Underneath the "I/O Bytes History" graph, simply hover your mouse over any peak and you can see what is causing the problems / High I/O at any moment (If using Vista or Windows 7, remember to run process explorer as Administrator, or you may not see everything)
If however, your machine is hanging loads and the graph doesn't go high, it is possible your hard drive is starting to go faulty, in which case, backup your data ASAP and then run a full disk scan - go to command prompt and type
(and repeat for each drive).
If this comes up with errors, you may want to look at getting a new hard drive.
You should consider running a malware detection program like Malwarebytes (http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php). You should backup your critical data first, then download and run Malwarebytes. It will not be able to detect boot sector viruses, but it has proven to be very effective for me. There is a free version and a paid version of the program - the free version should suffice.
Best of luck.
How to determine a problem is related to your hard drive?
Simple. Do a large file copy.
I always have a few hard disks in my computer. Sometimes, when I grow suspicious, I do check if it has problems by just doing a large file copy. Usually, if the transfer is very slow (compared to normal). It indicates your hard disk is failing.
You have to copy from HDD1 to HDD2 and from HDD1 to HDD3 and compare if a copy from HDD2 is slower than a copy from HDD3. If you don't have many hard disks like me, you can do the alternative check below.
Run a large video file (720p and above). If your computer usually views these video files without any choppy playback, there is a high chance your hard disk is failing.
EDIT: If your computer usually views these video files without any choppy playback, and now there's choppy playback, there is a high chance your hard disk is failing.
Programs like HD Tune can also help. But I find that manual checks like this is best, because the above program only check disk sector errors, but usually when a drive begins to fail, the access time for larger files will slow.
Cheers! Remember to backup!