[Resolved] Vista's svchost.exe process is constantly hitting the hard drive. Innocent? Necessary?

EDIT: Old thread topic changed, was looking for an antivirus program to run at boot-up on a Vista 64 machine.

The issue is my hard drive being constantly hit throughout the day, whether the computer is idle or I'm running a program.

Several other Vista users report SVCHost.exe (one of 9 copies of that service currently active on my PC) is the active service hitting the hard drive. Diving into the resource monitor shows it is reading the hard drive, a LOT, but not writing anything, which is somewhat relieving.

If I stop the service, the hard drive churning stops, only it starts itself back up again after a while. It's looking a little less malicious, more just annoying.

So the question is:
1. Is this an innocent, intended behavior?
2. Is this a virus hijacking the svchost process or mimicking it?
3. If it is innocent, is it a necessary service?
4. If it is not necessary, how do I stop it and keep it stopped?

I've never used it, but this sounds like it might be a job for the Avast boot CD

Thats $300. Any other ideas?

EDIT: Im hijacking my own thread to change it to the real issue now. Posts above this will look a little funny

svchost.exe instances relate to running services. It's not a service in itself, it's a generic EXE name for various running services.

link: What is svchost.exe

That link will show you how to view all running svchost.exe instances and how to see what service they correspond to. Figure out what service corresponds to the runaway svchost.exe.

Superfetch is the culprit! Great article, thanks Legion.

The mostly useless service has been disabled and my hard drive is nice and quiet. Im glad it's not a virus at least

Process explorer works pretty well for that in an easy package.

What's the over/under on virus scanner or indexing service?

Well, I have weird timing.

In the default Vista task manager, you can right-click a process and select "go to services". The services tab will open with all the running services associated with that process highlighted.

Usually idle hard drive activity is indexing, defragmentation, or Windows Defender doing its thing. Crazy hard drive activity for minutes after a boot up is prefetch.

If you let it do its thing, the computer will eventually quiet down and be pretty darn peppy. Turning all this stuff off makes for a quieter computer, but searches will suck afterwords and the computer will slow over time as the disk fragments up. If you do a lot of downloading, it is a good idea to turn all those services off since your hard drive will be going crazy indexing and defragging any large files you pull down.

I have indexing and defragging off because I rarely need to search and don't mind doing my own maintenance. Windows Defender is on... well because it turned itself back after an update and doesn't bug me much :D. I left prefetch on because I like how fast WoW and Firefox starts now.

Process Explorer allowed me to investigate exactly what that svchost.exe process was running and turning off the 'Superfetch' service completely solved the problem. I investigated Superfetch a bit and read that it tries to pre-load your most used programs. Generally this is terrible for gamers because the games we play have such a big RAM footprint and if you regularly play several, it will pretty much never stop pre-caching stuff (which was my experience)

Since turning it off, I've experienced no negative impact whatsoever. Nothing loads slower and in fact games may actually perform better since less of the RAM is being used for something I'm not actually running.

So problem solved

Late to the party, but yeah, superfetch is ASSTACULAR.