Sometimes my Windows 7 system is accessing the hard drive heavily for several minutes and it slows down the machine considerably.

Is there a tool which tells me which process is causing it? That includes if Windows is accessing the virtual memory? I tried SysInternals' DiskMon but it doesn't show useful information, like the process. The Task Manager shows some I/O counters but I still can't determine which one is doing it the most. Plus it doesn't show virtual memory access.


5 Answers 5


"What's my computer doing?" :

Perhaps even you are curious why your hard disk LED is sometimes flashing. Or why the CPU fan gets louder even if you're not doing anything.

The free software "What's my computer doing?" tells you why. It shows all programs (with details!), that are accessing your hard disk or using the CPU. Furthermore you have the option to close these programs or even uninstall them.

  • 4
    How is this any better than the Task Manager? It does exactly the same thing, only with less information provided. Dec 19, 2013 at 17:05
  • This answer dates from 2010 !
    – harrymc
    Jun 30, 2018 at 14:36

Resource Monitor can do this and is built into Windows 7. You can access it from a button in Task Manager's Performance tab.

Once you open Resource Monitor, expand the Disk Utilization drop-down. It will show you what processes are accessing the disk. On the Disk tab you can get more detailed information about which processes are utilizing how much disk I/O, among other stats.

Resource Monitor from Task Manager

  • But how to use Resource Monitor? If I look under Disk tab and sort by "Total (B/sec)", it's always "System" and "C:\pagefile.sys" at the top which isn't helpful.
    – endolith
    Nov 6, 2015 at 14:43

As @weloytty says, the Resource monitor will help. You can also check Process Explorer from MS/systernals Process Explorer

By any chance are you running Skype on this system? If so, has it become a supernode and you are now having all that traffic? Quit Skype and be sure that the icon does not remain in the Notification Area. Even if you cannot receive calls, it can still be running

  • I am, in fact, running Skype; it's required for my job. Grrr.
    – 3Dave
    Oct 26, 2011 at 18:40
  • There is a fix for this but I can't seem to get teh link to work with full document. There is a registry fix Please backup before making any change and I will try and fid the document Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Skype] [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Skype\Phone] "DisableSupernode"=dword:00000001
    – Dave M
    Oct 26, 2011 at 19:37
  • It used to be described herehttp://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/security/universities/ but the actual registry change instruction is now missing.
    – Dave M
    Oct 26, 2011 at 19:42

Go to Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Performance Information and Tools\Advanced Tools and start Resource Monitor. You can see what's hitting the disk there.



I FOUND IT! It's a stupid piece of software called Seagate Dashboard, and it automatically installs itself in your 'puter when you plug in a Seagate external hard drive. For some reason, this POS does something cyclically, about once a second. Whatever it's doing involves RAM, and as usual Windows -- in combination with anti-virus software, which for some reason uses a dreadful lot of RAM -- has all the RAM occupied, so the machine has to resort to virtual RAM and starts driving the HD. Getting the virtual RAM adjusted takes about a second -- just long enough for Seagate Dashboard to hit it AGAIN. The system is constantly occupied with this cyclic RAM fiddling, which doesn't show up as an activity (!) and prevents anything else from working right.

Fix is simple:

Start -> Control Panel -> Administrative Tools

double-click on Services

scroll down the list to find Seagate Dashboard Service

right-click on it and hit "Stop". Things will get a LOT better immediately!

right-click on it again and change "automatic" to "manual" -- or perhaps even "disable" -- so it won't bother you any more.

  • Please read the question again carefully. Your answer does not answer the original question - which asks how can I find out what is causing the hard disk activity.
    – DavidPostill
    Aug 26, 2016 at 7:42

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