Windows 7 Hard Disk Thrashing

I recently noticed my Windows 7 HTPC has been spending a lot of time doing 'something' with the hard drive, but I had no idea what. That is, the hard disk activity light would keep flickering constantly and you could hear the disk churning away. This also resulted in choppy Live TV playback as the HD needs to be used to record & play simultaneously.

I tried disabling Microsoft Security Essentials, turned off the disk defrag service and SuperFetch. Restarted several times for good measure as well but problem persisted. I then opened up the Resource Monitor and had a close look at the Disk tab. This shows a list of processes and their real-time hard disk read and write data rates.

Sorting by read speed I noticed many instances of wmpnetwk.exe. The disk activity pane showed that this program was opening up a lot of my mp3 music files. A quick Google search revealed that this is the Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service. This is used to stream music and videos to other devices in your house like an XBox or PS3, but I never explicitly turned this on and I don't use the functionality.

Disabling the service resulted in a significant reduction of HD activity. The two processes left that were reading and writing to the disk were ehrecvr.exe and ehshell.exe. ehrecvr is the Live TV component of Windows Media Center and ehshell provides core WMC functionality. If ehshell is creating too much excess activity, try restarting WMC or check to see if WMC is scanning for new libraries or trying to perform its optimization, etc.

If none of the above apply to you, just try to use the Resource Monitor to identify the processes and services that are hurting your HD. Identify what files they're accessing. Google to see what they do if not sure and shut them down if not needed.


  1. It turned out WMPNetworkSvc was hurting my hard disk, it was thrashing my artwork from the iTunes 9 folder. wtf... ??? I feel like I am going to uninstall WMP.


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