My wife has a month old Acer laptop. The disk activity light is almost constantly on, either solid or flickering. There are no apps running. Checking in task manager, no process seems to be using more than 2% of the CPU - but looking at the 'performance' tab, CPU usage is typically a minimum of 20% and often above 50% for several seconds. Sometimes, disk/CPU usage is so high that the laptop loses the pojnter - or it won't move. Like I said: this, despite there being (apparently) nothing running. Anyone have any thoughts? We're taking it with us on holiday tomorrow, so I don't have time to do anything other than 'quick and dirty' with it.
Well, I think I now know it's svchost.exe - multiple instances are thrashing the disk. However, what to do about it is a different matter, if my initial research is anything to go by. I'll take a more in-depth look when we get back. Thanks again to all - I'll mark as resolved.
svchosts will run several dlls that are required for Windows to run at all. These are not your problem. It may be another problem which is using svchost to run ie some nasty or other. Run a virus scan and a malware scan.