What’s with all the disk thrashing in Vista?

If you’ve installed Vista on your PC you know what I’m talking about.  At unpredictable moments Vista has a tendency to start thrashing the hard drive like crazy, sometimes making the whole system sit there essentially catatonic until it finishes.  I haven’t been able to predict when it’s going to happen, either.  Sometimes it does it when resuming from Standby, sometimes it does it when simply changing the display orientation from landscape to portrait (or vice versa).  I have seen this thrashing go on for as long as five full minutes, forcing me to sit and stare at the unresponsive system until Vista is done doing whatever it’s doing.

At first I thought it was the result of indexing the files on the hard drive, but I don’t think that is the cause.  When I can get into the task manager I don’t see the search processes taking up a lot of resources so I think it’s something else.  I also thought it was because I only have 1 GB of memory in the Fujitsu P1610 and Vista was perhaps paging like crazy, but I have now seen this thrashing on multiple systems with more memory.  I even see it doing this on the MacBook Pro when Vista is running in Parallels, and Vista has 1.5 GB of memory allocated to it.  Even when not much is running Vista will decide to do something intensive with the hard drive and the thrashing begins.  Does anybody have any idea what this is?  I believe this issue is separate from the one that’s made the news recently where file copy, move, or delete operations can take a very long time.  I see that issue too but this thrashing seems to have no visible cause.

How to Ride the Fifth Wave

Co-authored with Michael Copeland for Business 2.0:
Cheap computing, infinite bandwidth, and open standards are powering an epic technological transformation that will churn up huge new opportunities — and perils for those who can’t adapt. Now comes computing’s fifth wave. It’s different from the sea changes that came before it. For the first time, the shift isn’t driven primarily by a single piece of hardware or by how corporations deploy it. Instead, it results from the unprecedented coalescence of three powerful technological forces: cheap and ubiquitous computing devices, from PCs to cell phones to tiny but potent systems that are beginning to show up in everything from bedroom lamps to key chains; low-cost and omnipresent bandwidth; and open standards — not just Linux source code but the opening of other software as well as corporate databases. The fifth wave puts computing everywhere. It offers access to limitless amounts of information, services, and entertainment. All the time. Everywhere.
Read More about How to Ride the Fifth Wave