Windows 7 Hard Disk Thrashing

I was having a hard time understanding why my computer hard disk would thrash so much, typically on start-up. Looking at the Windows Resource Monitor tool, it seemed that all kinds of files were being accessed. I figured there wasn’t much I could do about it and that it must just be a byproduct of SuperFetch or CrashPlan or Avast and that I would just have to live with it.

However, I recently discovered a likely contributor to the churn and wanted to share.

There’s a post in this discussion saying that “both the Windows Defender and Defragmenter programs […] are activated by default and should be disabled.” Normally I’d be skeptical of disabling standard Windows features, but since I already use and prefer Avast anti-virus and like to manually initiate defragmentation on my own using MyDefrag, I figured it was worth trying the suggestion. Here are the steps I took:

To disable Windows Defender:

  1. Open Windows Defender
  2. Click Tools
  3. Click Options
  4. Select “Real Time Protection”
  5. Uncheck “Turn on Real Time Protection (recommended)”
  6. Click on the Save button
  7. Close Windows Defender

To disable automatic defragmentation:

  1. Open Disk Defragmenter
  2. Click “Configure schedule”
  3. Uncheck “Run on a schedule (recommended)”

This certainly gave me a smoother boot-up and generally less hard drive churn. I suspect that there might have been a poor interaction between Windows Defender and Avast or CrashPlan. Perhaps uninstalling Avast while leaving Windows Defender on would have helped as well.

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