- Windows Search Indexing (Background Building of Search Indices for Built-In Windows Search)
- Registry: queries (reads) and small writes to the registry for nearly every action performed by the OS on a continual background basis.
- Frequent writes to the PageFile for Virtual Memory
- NTFS filesystem updates Last Access Time whenever a file is touched in any way (including just looking at it)
- Additional journaling writes by NTFS
- Runs "System Restore" on volumes by default
- "Simplified" disk defragmenter scheduled to run on all volumes
- May store arbitrary install and temp files on any drive (examples: MSOCACHE, ie temporary install files, service pack files, etc)
- Runs background scans on disk (Windows Defender)
- Writes for automatic optimization of disk for boot (SuperFetch)
- Autoupdate background downloading
- Various *.LOG files being written
Oh and then add 3rd party software
- Antivirus Suite (this is a killer if you get a low one like McAfee or Norton)
- Various updaters (Apple is very guilty here)
Vista has a great tool for seeing how much disk activity is going on. Hit CTRL-ALT-DEL then click on "Start Task Manager". On the "Performance" tab, click "Resource Manager". UAC will prompt you to continue. Then click to expand the "Disk" section. You can see even when you think your computer should be idle that Vista probably has several dozen outstanding writes queued up to the hard drive at just about any time.
Anyhow, my solution was three-fold for my second attempt at Vista.
1) Get the fastest HD possible. I bought a 300GB Western Digital Velociraptor 10K RPM drive. It's fast -- not quite as fast as the SSD's that should be coming out later this year or early next year but a lot more affordable. Pretty much the fastest drive that is still affordable. You can get one without taking a second mortgage on the house. If you can't drop $300 for the Velociraptor, the Samesung F1 1TB 32MB cache drive is very fast as well.
2) Reinstall Vista without any cruft. I was going to do a restore on the GT5628 and then uninstall as much cruft as possible. However, this wasn't necessary. Luckily the restore CD for my GT5628 doesn't restore to factory settings but rather to a clean Vista Install.
3) Install only fast security software. I installed "Comodo Firewall Pro" and "avast!" antivirus. They are much faster than Norton / McAfee.
Now the computer is mostly useable under dual-boot for XP or Vista.