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Windows 7: PC intermittently becomes unresponsive with constant disk activity

21 Apr 2015   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
PC intermittently becomes unresponsive with constant disk activity


My wife's HP desktop intermittently becomes very slow and / or unresponsive. When in this state I notice that the HDD activity LED is continuously on. After a time (up to 4-5 minutes) the LED flashes intermittently and the system becomes responsive again. When the HDD LED is on, I can't even bring up the Task Manager to see what processes are running.

Almost everything she does uses a web-based application (Gmail, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) - Chrome is her browser of choice, but the intermittent slowdown seems to be independent of the browser (I've tried IE and Firefox). Here are the basics specs of the system:

150 GB HDD (99 GB free)
Win 7 Home Premium 32-bit
Microsoft Security Essentials
2.6 GHz Athlon CPU

There have been no new applications or hardware added to the PC that can be correlated with this behavior. I'd really appreciate suggestions as to what could be causing this issue, and how it might be resolved.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Apr 2015   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


Hello basker1957 and welcome to Seven Forums.

The first thing I'd do is run a full scan with your installed anti-virus of choice. Even if it shows "no malware found" I'd run a second scan with the Forum recommended free Malwarebyes since no anti-malware product is 100% effective 100% of the time.

Malwarebytes | Antivirus, Anti-Spyware, & Anti-Malware Software

There are two free utilities called Process Explorer and Process Hacker. Both are like Task Manager but on steroids. :) They might be able to show you what process(es) is/are running.

Overview - Process Hacker

If the problem just recently started you could try restoring your computer to an earlier date/time with System Restore. Especially if this problem started after the last Windows Update on April 14th. If a System Restore solves the issue then it was probably one of the updates. You could try installing the updates one at a time and reboot your computer after each install. You'd be more likely to figure out which is the problematic update.

System Restore

And you could also try performing a Clean Boot (aka Clean Startup) in case some application or service recently became damaged or corrupted.

Troubleshoot Application Conflicts by Performing a Clean Startup

And finally, one of the Forum experts prepared a troubleshooting guide that might help.

Troubleshooting Steps for Windows 7
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 PC intermittently becomes unresponsive with constant disk activity

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