Ask Leo! #455 – Constant Disk Activity: known and unknown, lots on Defragging, Facebook shares and more…

*** Featured

I have constant disk activity and I don't know why. How can I tell what program is doing it?

My machine has a constant red led, constant disk activity, no response from mouse, Task Manager, not able to gain control of any processes or programs. Problem is, I have had Process Explorer(boot) running and it shows +-98% inactive!!! I am unable to see what is causing me the problem (using Admin. Tools Events etc. when I look at various categories).

Obviously, something appears to be running outside of Windows XP Pro SP.3. Unfortunately, I am unable to find and DESTROY it.

One thing that I can tell you is that it's not outside of Windows. The assumption that you have that the CPU usage is telling you something is incorrect.

In the past, I've recommended a tool called FileMon to determine what's been writing to your disk. FileMon has been replaced by a significantly more powerful utility, Process Monitor.

We'll look at using Process Monitor to see if we can determine just exactly who's doing what to your machine.

Continue Reading: I have constant disk activity and I don't know why. How can I tell what program is doing it?

Defragging in Windows 7 (and later)

Disk defragging, or more correctly "defragmenting," is the source of many questions, more than a few misconceptions, and many articles here on Ask Leo!

The good news is that for reasons we'll explore, defragging in Windows 7 is actually something you rarely need think about any more.

While we're exploring, we'll also look at a brief refresher on what fragmentation is, why defragmenting is needed, and how to do it yourself, if you want to. I'll also address some of the most common myths of defragmenting.

Continue Reading: Defragging in Windows 7 (and later)

*** Answercast

Answercast #118 - Using your desktop, Defragging too much, annoying Facebook popups, https padlocks and more...

Do you worry about defragging too much or why results differ? Have you lost files from your desktop or spent too much time reporting spam? Wonder if you can move a program to another disk? All that and more in this Answercast from Ask Leo!

Listen Now!
(Includes the raw transcript on which the articles below were based.)

How do I get rid of this annoying Facebook share pop-up?
Facebook popups asking you to share content can be annoying. There's a reason websites do it, but the best practice is to be unobtrusive. So what can you do to get rid of those annoying popups?

Continue reading: How do I get rid of this annoying Facebook share pop-up?

Why do different defrag programs give different results?
While defrag programs use different algorithms to defragment your machine, one thing is for sure - they won't defrag your machine 100%. But is it worth it to be that thorough?

Continue reading: Why do different defrag programs give different results?

Will CHKDSK harm my files?
If CHKDSK freezes when you run it, you may have a problem with your files or hard disk. But don't blame CHKDSK for the problem.

Continue reading: Will CHKDSK harm my files?

Does defragging too much harm my hard disk?
Defragmenting a hard drive speeds it up by moving pieces of files closer to each other. It does no harm except maybe waste your time if you do it too much.

Continue reading: Does defragging too much harm my hard disk?

Am I wasting my time reporting scam and spam emails?
It really doesn't do any harm to report spam - if you have enough time to do it. With the huge amount of spam out there, however, it's hard to believe that it helps stem the tide of junk that comes to our email inboxes.

Continue reading: Am I wasting my time reporting scam and spam emails?

Is it safe to store files on my desktop?

The desktop is just not a place where I keep things that I use because it's always obscured. It's also a fragile environment to keep important files because it's a folder that is prone to miss-swipes of the mouse and more.

Continue reading: Is it safe to store files on my desktop?

I'm not seeing a padlock with my https site. Is it safe?
https should be safe as long as the padlock icon indicates that the certificate is correct. That proves that you're visiting the site that you believe you are. If you don't see it, you should be concerned.

Continue reading: I'm not seeing a padlock with my https site. Is it safe?

Can I move an installed program from one drive to another?
The key is in understanding how a program is set up. If you had to run a setup wizard to install the program, then you will need to set it up again on a new drive.

Continue reading: Can I move an installed program from one drive to another?

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Word o' the Week

Solid State Disks

A Solid State Disk, or SSD, is some amount of non-volatile memory designed to mimic the behavior of a normal Hard Disk Drive (HDD).

SSDs are becoming more popular as the underlying technology – flash memory – is becoming both less expensive and more reliable. SSDs are typically significantly faster, particularly when data is being read, than traditional hard disk drives.

Flash memory is used because it's "non-volatile", meaning that it does not lose what's stored in it when power is removed, much like a traditional magnetic-material based hard disk.

The flash memory used in SSDs is typically of higher quality and thus longer lifespan than the flash memory used in inexpensive USB thumb drives. While flash memory does wear out the more that it's written to, SSDs are now at a point where the technology lasts long enough in traditional usage to be a suitable replacement for mechanical media.

SSDs not only mimic the behavior of traditional hard disks, but are also typically packaged in physically equivalent forms so that they can be connected in place of traditional disks.

Word o' the Week features a computer term or acronym taken from the Ask Leo! Glossary. If there's a word you're not sure of and would like to see defined, click here to let me know.

*** Featured Reader Comments

How do I shut down Windows 8?

Neil writes:

I have put 3 shortcuts in a folder called power on the desktop in Windows 8.

The shortcut names and respective locations are given below(do not include the " but everything in between.

It works for me and saves so much time.

Shutdown: "C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe /s /t 5"

Hibernate: "%windir%\system32\rundll32.exe PowrProf.dll, SetSuspendState"

Restart: "%windir%\System32\shutdown.exe /r /t 0"

Rene LeBlanc writes:

I just purchased a new Lenovo P500 laptop, which of course has Windows 8 on it. I spent a few days with it and I have to agree with all the people who hate the "modern" interface. Most of the default "apps" were not of interest to me, and I installed many desktop programs, but I had to continuously scrape away the stupid and ugly tile interface to get down to the desktop where I wanted to work. I finally installed Stardock's Start8 and ModernMix. Problem solved. Down underneath the spectacularly irritating "modern interface" of Windows 8 is actually a beautiful OS that is basically an improved Windows 7. With ModernMix, the "modern" apps can be run in well behaved re-sizable and overlappable windows. The Start8 start button provides a Windows 7-like access to everything on my computer. I added the vastly superior Avanquest PowerDesk Pro 9 file manager, and I am now a very happy camper with my new Windows 8 computer.

How do I check a website for malware without infecting my own machine?

MoreOff writes:

Thank You Yeppers for mentioning zscaler as another tool for Paranoid folks like me to use before visiting web sites.

I C&P the zscaler URL from Your comments above into Firefox without checking it first with Dr. Web Link Checker, because I know Leo wouldn't allow sites mentioned in His Comments section to go to a Harmful web page.

Thank You for the comment and Thank You Leo for having a Safe Place to learn this here complicated stuff. . .

Leo writes:

To be clear, I cannot vet every link that is placed in a comment. Even if I could there's a window of time between the posting of the comment and my or my assistant's getting around to it. Bottom line: don't assume links in comments here aren't risky - ultimately they could be.

*** Thoughts and Comments

Garbled Characters

We're getting closer. I discovered a (big, embarrassing) mistake I'd made and corrected it. Drop me a line if you still see garbled characters.

Oh. My. Word.

This coming Saturday will mark the 10th anniversary of Ask Leo!.

Ten years! It's difficult for me to believe, to be honest, but here we are.

I have a couple of things planned ... which I'll divulge in next week's newsletter. Be sure to check this space when it arrives.

Leo A. Notenboom
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Posted: August 6, 2013 in: 2013
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