I may have stumbled upon the source of my problem: I have been posting to Autodesk's (AutoCAD) official forum about a separate issue I'm having - a sub-program called AutoCAD360. It's a peripheral program that utilizes the internet cloud for drawing file sharing using iPads & smartphones on the go, when you don't have the main software on a PC handy. It apparently needs to be signed in at all times.
I have had for a while an update to the Autodesk360 program, but it can't update the program because the updater doesn't recognize my H: drive as being the source drive for my PC. So it gives me an error msg. The admin at the Autodesk forum - as a way to fix this - told me to clean out my temp folder (start>run>%temp%). I opened my temp folder and there were thousands of folders and files. Some wouldn't let me delete them (they stated they were in use), but after I rebooted my PC I was able to re-access the temp folder and clean them out. Now after rebooting again, this is what my task manager tells me:
This is more in line with what my TM used to show me right up into October or so, before it started bloating up with commit charge. So I guess that was the source of my issue, and I need to be more diligent in keeping my temp folder cleared more often. I was surprised to see so many files, as the hard drive is fairly new as my OP explains. But I guess those files were from all the programs and software I had to download to the new HD after installing it into my computer.
Thanks for all your help, Hoov! I will still install Winpatrol and use it to see what unnecessary processes I have running, as I don't think I should have 40+ processes going all the time on my little PC. Some of those processes - dropbox, Sansa Dispatcher and updater, etc. - auto-restart whenever I re-boot my PC back up, so I have to manually stop them. I think I know where I need to go to set them to manual start up only (is it Start>control panel>administrative tools>services?). I'll respond later with questions on what the winpatrol tells me. Thanks again!