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How to Troubleshoot 100% Disk Usage in Windows 10

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20180926
How to Troubleshoot 100% Disk Usage in Windows 10

How to Troubleshoot 100% Disk Usage in Windows 10

There are several things that can cause 100% disk usage in Windows, and it can be a tricky problem to solve. But help is on hand: here are all the common reasons why it happens and how you can fix it.

Normally, the disk usage will go up to or close to 100% for a few seconds or even for a couple of minutes, but then should settle down to something more reasonable (usually under 10%). If you consistently see a very high disk usage, it means there is something else going on that isn’t quite right.

The first thing to try - as with most Windows problems - is to restart Windows. It sounds too simple, but it can often cure issues that you might otherwise spend a long time investigating.

You can check your disk usage by opening up the Task Manager in Windows 10. You can either right-click on the Start button and select Task Manager or you can press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC. If you just see a small list of apps, click on More details at the bottom.



On the main Processes tab, you’ll see a quick overview of the CPU, Memory, Disk and Network utilization. This might be all you need to identify the offender, but more often than not it will be a Windows service rather than an app causing the problem. In some cases, you might see just one process that is causing the high disk usage, but in other instances, the process that is causing the spike may change.

End Task button can be use for stopping processes with high-resource usage. After you identify the problem, right-click the process, and select End task to terminate it. Alternatively, you can simply select the item and click the End Task button in the bottom-right corner.





Upgrade Firmware for SSDs

On the off chance that you have a SSD installed on your machine and are having disk usage problem, it's in all probability an issue with the firmware. SSDs are fast and unless you have some program that is accessing the disk all the time, it really should never be at 100% for more than a few seconds.



Here are a couple of links to the SSD firmware updates for some of the major brands:

Crucial , Samsung , Kingston , Intel , OWC


Perform a Clean Boot

A clean boot basically loads Windows with the fewest drivers and startup programs. A clean boot will help you determine whether the issue is being caused by Windows itself or by a third-party program installed on Windows.

    Warning
Disabling items in Services or Startup may leave your antivirus disabled until the process is ended. For this reason I would suggest that you perform this process off line.



Press the keys to open Run, then type msconfig in the search box. This will open System Configuration.

If you are prompted for an administrator password or for confirmation, you should enter the password or provide confirmation.

1. On the Startup tab of the System Configuration dialog box, click Open Task Manager.



2. On the Startup tab in Task Manager, for each startup item, select the item and then click Disable button.



3. Click on the Services tab of the System Configuration dialog box.

4. Place a check mark in the Hide all Microsoft services check box, this will remove the Microsoft Services from the list but will still be running.

5. Click Disable all, this will remove all of the check marks in the Services list.



6. Click on Apply then OK



Click on Restart in the window that opens.

When the computer is restarted it will boot normally.

If the problem does not continue after the restart please do the following.

7.  Divide the number of these startup services and programs by two and you place checks in the first half of these, then restart the computer.

8.  If the problem doesn't return in those services and programs remove the checks and place checks in the remaining services and programs and restart the computer.

9.  When you find which half the service or program is in go on to the next step.  

10. The half which has the service causing this problem remove half of the checks as you did previously to see which half has this service. Do the same for the programs.  Restart the computer.  

11.  If it isn't in the first half of these services and programs, do the same with the last half of the services and programs.

12.  Once you have narrowed it down to the last three or four services and programs remove the checks one at a time till you find the service or program at fault.

Once you have found the service or program disable it or uninstall the program.



Upgrade Memory (RAM)

Make sure the machine has a decent amount of RAM, meaning nothing less than 4 GB.



Everything that can’t be fit into memory is paged to the hard disk. So basically Windows will use your hard disk as a temporary memory device. If you have a lot of data that has to be written to disk, it will cause your disk usage to spike and your computer to slow down. If you notice that the line in this graph is close to the top, then it means you probably need to upgrade the RAM on the computer.


Disable MSI Mode

If you can't see any process using a lot of disk resources, it could be that your computer is using the wrong storage driver. Microsoft is well aware of the problem and it's the 'official' solution to the 100% disk utilisation problem.

In a nutshell, it's a firmware bug in some SSDs which causes Windows to think it hasn't completed a task and resets the device repeatedly.

You can read the Microsoft KB article here and attempt the fix.



Check Hard Disk for Errors

If nothing above is working, then you could actually have a problem with your hard drive. There are several ways to check the health of your hard drive, which I’ve written about before.

How to Use Check Disk to Detect And Fix Hard Drive Errors

In many instances, repairing errors on the drive fixed the problem. In other instances, replacing the drive was necessary.

Hopefully, one of the above solutions will work for you. One last resort option is to perform a clean install of Windows 10, which will fix the problem for anyone who happens to have malware installed on their systems and maybe don’t know it. If you have any questions, feel free to comment.
Enjoy!
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