About a month ago, I started noticing that my hard drive was beginning to be accessed for long periods of time...sometimes for a whole minute or two. I first noticed it when I would start Windows Live Mail. While the accesses are going on, the computer runs other tasks very slowly or not at all. Sometimes the mouse cursor disappears until the accesses slow down. Now this kind of thing is happening more often. In fact, as I'm typing this, it's going on.
I started the Task Manager and looked at the Performance tab, and while the memory was active at about 50%, the processor was only tied up less than 5% of the time. I check the anti-virus program when this is going on and there is no scan activity in progress. Also, there is no Windows update being downloaded.
I've run a full scan with MSE, and I downloaded the latest version of Malwarebytes and ran it. Both of the programs reported no viruses or malware on the machine. I would normally think that Windows is doing something in the background, but since I haven't made any changes to the operating system settings recently I don't know why this disk activity should suddenly show up.
Does anyone have any ideas as to what might be causing this disk activity? Is it possible that the hard drive is starting to fail and the OS is doing extra accesses to try to recover from read or write errors? The computer is about five years old and the hard disk is the original. Any help will be appreciated.