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Vista’s Morning Sickness

May 17, 2007

Vista busy cursor Some mornings Vista is all but unusable. On waking it up from standby it seems frozen, except the hard disk light is permanently on, suggesting it is moving massive amounts of data between RAM and the Page File. It is unresponsive to the point that it can take minutes to respond to a single mouse click. It takes a reboot to bring it back to “normal” responsiveness.

I thought this might be due to the overnight virus scan still running. I checked but the scan had long since finished. Maybe some reindexing in the wake of the virus scan?

The phenomenon I’ve described is known as “disk thrashing” and I’m not the only Vista user to have been plagued by it. Just look at this, or this, or this.

The same few potential cuplrits keep getting mentioned: SuperFetch, Windows Defender, Disk Defragmenter.

SuperFetch is a Windows idea which first appeared in a very simple form in XP but has been taken to whole new absurd lengths in Vista. It tries to predict what applications you might possibly want to run at a given time of day and pre-loads them just in case, clogging up your RAM. This may be the cause of the disk thrashing, either directly or because the clogging of RAM deprives other services (file indexing maybe?) of memory so they end of using the page file for long periods. Who knows?

Disabling SuperFetch is one option but it may be going too far and some have suggested that would be counterproductive. This less extreme option looks like it may help. I’ve made the settings changes and I’ll keep you posted. Here’s hoping.

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One comment

  1. […] Vista’s Morning Sickness Some mornings Vista is all but unusable. On waking it up from standby it seems frozen, except the hard disk light is permanently on, suggesting it is moving massive amounts of data between RAM and the Page File. It is unresponsive to the point that it can take minutes to respond to a single mouse click. It takes a reboot to bring it back to “normal” responsiveness. Read more. […]



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