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Constant disk activity could be caused by Chrome updating in the background. There are a few steps that can be done with Process Explorer to help further diagnose the problem.

I have constant disk reads (and writes?) when I use Chrome to read my e-mail and use Facebook. I used Process Monitor as you suggested, and the three most often accessed processes were setupapi.dll, profile.ini in Firefox, and the databases.db file in Chrome. I checked the setupapi log file, and it hasn't been written to since April of this year. And I don't understand why anything would be accessing my Firefox profile if I'm not even using Firefox. Can you give me some hints as to what to check next?

In this excerpt from Answercast #26, I look at the way Chrome and other browsers update themselves and how to diagnose this type of constant disk activity.

Constant disk activity

The very first thing I would ask you is how much RAM is in your machine?

  • It's very possible that the processes are simply struggling because of not having sufficient RAM.

That's something that I just want to quickly throw out there and eliminate. There's a good chance you have enough RAM. But, it's one of those things that can cause disk reads and writes, excessive disk reads and writes, very quickly.

Log files

Now, as to setupapi.dll.

It depends on where you're finding that setupapi log file. It may not be related to setupapi.dll at all. I'm not familiar with setupapi.dll itself. Again, it depends on specifically where on your hard disk it happens to be.

Chrome Updates

If I had to make a guess: the Chrome portion of this makes me wonder if Chrome isn't doing an automatic update in the background. What most people don't realize (and it's one of the reasons you'll never ever see an update request from Chrome) is that Chrome updates itself transparently (and more or less continuously) in the background.

You never have to actually download or accept an update. It just does it.

I know that last week that I happened to notice a fair amount of activity in Chrome, and in fact, Chrome itself seemed a little bit slower than normal. When I too fired up Process Explorer, what I found were processes for Chrome that were in the process of downloading a Chrome update and installing it.

That's the kind of a thing that will probably resolve itself if you just let it run for awhile.

Look at your add-ons

Now, I'm going to assume from this question that you've done that and that this is a persistent problem. In which case, for Chrome, again, I'd start to think about your add-ons and potentially disable those. So I would look at that.

Firefox

The Firefox thing is kinda of interesting.

Since you've got Process Explorer running, I would look to see if there was a copy of Firefox running somewhere. It's very possible that it's running and you don't realize it.

What I would recommend you do in a case like that is:

  • First, kill off the process in Process Explorer.
  • And then, see if that actually affects the writing to and from profile.ini.

Finally, you haven't said what email program you're using. If by some chance you're running Thunderbird, that could explain the Firefox accesses.

Firefox and Thunderbird share a fair amount of code under the hood. I don't have a specific, "This is what happens," but I could easily see Thunderbird causing accesses to files that are labeled as, or might look like, files related to Firefox.

So, those are the kinds of things I would look at next and just sort-of see if that gets you any further down the path to understanding why that's happening.

Article C5457 - June 13, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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2 Comments
Bob Pellegrin
June 14, 2012 2:28 PM

I think there may be more going on that Chrome updates. I quit using Chrome because it consistently kepy my hard drive spinning. I use Internet Explorer and Firefox with no problem.

Josh
June 15, 2012 2:55 PM

Even though there is Google Update in Startup, untick that and we'd think job done but not quite because they are also to be found in Task Scheduler.

There are at least two of them in there which say 'every day' and 'every day - After triggered, repeat every 1 hour for a duration of 1 day'. I disable those also.

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