I recently wrote about fixing Windows 10 freezing issue and in this post I will talk about fixing another quite common problem which is disk usage showing 100% all the time. I’ve noticed that this is especially true on laptops.
Normally, disk usage should go up to or near 100% within seconds or even minutes, but after that it should be more sensible to resolve the issue (usually less than 10%). If you always see very high disk usage, that means something else is going wrong.
To get started, you can check your disk usage by opening the Task Manager in Windows 10. You can right-click on it. Start button and select Workflow management or you can press CTRL + Transfer + ESC. If you only see a small list of apps, click More details below.
On the main Procedure tab you will see a quick overview of CPU, Memory, Disk and Network usage. For me, unless I’m doing something on the computer, disk usage is usually around 0. In the worst case you’ll see something like below where disk usage is 100% or very close to it.
In some cases, you may see just one process causing high disk usage, but in other cases the process causing the spike may change.
Now let’s talk about how we can identify the cause of the problem and then come up with a solution. In some cases the solution is easy and in others it is a bit more complicated. Before we get in, here’s what you shouldn’t do.
Don’t try these solutions
On the net I have found a bunch of solutions that don’t work well for me because they can cause more problems later on. Try to avoid doing any of the things listed below:
- Disable the BITS . service – Windows requires your PC to be up to date and it won’t help disable it.
- Disable Windows Search or Superfetch – Again, these are core Windows services and you should not disable them.
- Modify page file – You should leave it to Windows to manage the page file. Don’t try custom values.
- Disable Windows Defender – Except for Method 6, do not disable Defender.
Method 1 – Firmware Upgrade for SSD
If you have an SSD installed on your machine and are having disk usage issues, it’s most likely a problem with the firmware. SSDs are very fast, and unless you have some program accessing the disk all the time, it really should never be at 100% for more than a few seconds.
Here are some links to SSD firmware updates for some major brands: Crucial, Samsung, Kingston, Intel, OWC.
Method 2 – Perform a clean boot
If you’ve never done a clean boot, now is the time to learn. A clean boot basically loads Windows with few drivers and startup programs. Clean Boot helps you determine if the problem is caused by Windows itself or by a third-party program installed on Windows.
Microsoft has a great article on how to do a clean boot. I recommend you to try it as it usually fixes a lot of other problems as well. It’s a bit time consuming, but totally worth the effort. Just set aside a few hours on the weekend to get it done.
If you find that everything loads fine on clean boot, then slowly enable each startup program until you determine which program is causing the slowdown. You can then uninstall it or disable it. For starters, always start by disabling any third-party anti-virus/anti-malware programs as those can tend to access the disk all the time. .
In online forums, I have heard many people complain that Skype is the cause of the spike in disk usage. So try uninstalling Skype and see if that works.
Method 3 – Upgrade Memory (RAM)
Another thing you want to check is how much RAM you have installed on your machine. Since Windows 10 can run on older devices, I’ve seen a lot of people install it on older desktops and laptops. This is fine, but you need to make sure the machine has a decent amount of RAM, i.e. no less than 4 GB.
You can also open Task Manager and click Efficiency and then click Memory.
As you can see, I have 16 GB memory and about 6 GB in use. This means that if you have 4 GB of RAM on your computer, all the memory will be exhausted. Everything that cannot fit in memory is allocated to the hard disk. So basically Windows will use your hard disk as a temporary memory device.
If you have a lot of data to write to disk, it will cause your disk usage to spike and your computer to slow down. If you notice that the line in this chart is close to the top, it means you may need to upgrade the RAM on your computer.
Method 4 – Use a High Efficiency Power Plan
With some computers, hard drives are smart and will try to power off or change RPM to save power. An example is the green/blue Western Digital hard drive. It sounds like a great feature, but I don’t think it really works well in practice.
To avoid this problem, go to Energy options and choose High performance resource plan. Alternatively, click Change package settings and then expand Turn off the hard disk later and set minutes to 0.
This will ensure that the hard disk does not power down or enter a low power state, which can cause disk usage problems.
Method 5 – Turn off MSI mode
This solution is more confusing and probably won’t help most people, but it’s worth mentioning because Microsoft specifically stated that this is an issue in Windows 10. It’s basically AHCI related. , that’s the technical term you don’t need to know.
When you have this problem, Disk Usage will show 100%, but when you sort the column, there won’t be any particular program or process showing high disk usage. You can read the Microsoft KB article here and try to fix it.
Method 6 – Disable Windows Defender with 3rd Party AV
By default, Windows Defender will turn itself off if you have third-party antivirus software installed on your system. However, in some cases this does not happen, and running two anti-virus programs at the same time can cause excessive disk usage and a host of other problems.
To check if Windows Defender is disabled, click Startafterward Setting, Update & Security And after that Windows Defender. Guaranteed Real-time protection and Cloud-based protection be turned Turn off.
Again, you should ONLY do this if you have third-party antivirus software installed on your system.
Method 7 – Disable Windows Notifications
This solution has been widely distributed on the Internet, but I’m not sure if it really works. I believe it does with certain versions of Windows 10. Turning it off doesn’t really hurt anyway, so that’s why I’ll mention it.
You’re essentially disabling additional Windows notifications that are essentially ads. Go Settingthen click SystemAnd after that Notice and action. Simply turn off Get tips, tricks, and recommendations as you use Windows.
It’s worth noting that all your normal notifications will work fine, you won’t see any useless notifications from Microsoft.
Method 8 – Check for hard disk errors
If none of the above works, then you may indeed have a problem with your hard drive. There are several ways to check the health of your hard drive, which I wrote about before.
Check Disk and System Files
Check hard drive error
In many cases, fixing the error on the drive fixed the problem. In other cases, a drive replacement is necessary.
Hopefully, one of the above solutions will help you. A final option is to perform a clean install of Windows 10, which should fix the problem for anyone who happens to have malware installed on their system and may not know it. If you have any questions, feel free to comment. Enjoy!
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