Win XP sp3, Gigabyte 6-quad/s series motherboard, 1 GB DDR2 ram, 160GB harddisk, 4yr old PC desktop.
Usually, there are 33 processes running after startup. From Sunday this week, the task manager is only showing 21 processes. On the task bar, only the volume control is showing. Other icons like that of Avast, Realtek HD audio manager and Intel Graphics Media accelerator are not appearing. If I try to run any program (even Win explorer), the whole thing freezes up.
Then I have to restart and using Safe Mode run Check disk on C drive and then restart. It takes about 20 mins to check but finds no errors.
After this, however, I see 33 processes running and the PC works fine. I can then run it for hours on end without any abnormal behaviour. So what am I doing wrong??
tl;dr: need to run checkdisk on C drive everytime to get the thing to work normally.
Use HDTune or some other program to check the SMART status of the hard drive. It sounds like it may be on it's way out. Chkdsk won't report any problems as long as there are still free spare sectors on the drive, but I have a feeling you are running out of those.