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How to Fix Persistent 100% Drive Usage on Windows 10

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I am a former system administrator and currently a freelance tech author and developer.

Common fixes for 100% Disk Use on Windows 10

There are many things that can cause Windows 10 to sit at 100% disk usage, causing the computer to be slow to respond and apps to perform poorly. Driver problems and problems with Windows Services such as SuperFetch are the most common issues.

Here we will look at a few of the most common fixes for this frustrating problem.

Disk Use - Lower is Better

Disk Use should be zero when the computer is idle, with short spikes when the drive is being read or written to.

Disk Use should be zero when the computer is idle, with short spikes when the drive is being read or written to.

Windows 10 Task Manager Showing 100% Drive Use

If you have an older machine then you may have noticed that sometimes you can hear the hard drive crunching and your computer becomes slow to respond for a short time. If this is happening when you are installing or updating a program, or occasionally happens when you are playing a modern game or a demanding application then it's nothing to worry about. All the drive crunching means is that your computer is reading from or writing to your drive. If it persists, then it's a problem.

Short Term Drive Activity

Short bursts of drive activity could mean that your computer is saving download, installing something, or reading something. It could also mean that you are out of RAM (memory), and that Windows is trying to keep working by using the hard drive as a 'swap file', moving things that it isn't using out of RAM so that it can free up space for the things that you want to do right now. This can be quite effective for making it feel, in the short term, like your computer has more RAM than it really does.

For those short-term peaks in drive usage, there isn't much you can do. In the long term, you might want to buy more memory. If the drive use is constant and your computer is very slow to respond then that could be a sign of some hard drive or driver issues, or it could be an errant windows service.

Disabling Problematic Windows Services

There are two windows services which may cause issues for Windows 10 and for Windows 8 also. If you are experiencing 100% drive usage on Windows 8 or Windows 10, try the following:

  • Press <Windows Key> + <R>
  • Type "services.msc"
  • Press Enter
  • In the window that appears scroll down to find Superfetch and double click on it.
Disable problematic services in the Services.msc application

Disable problematic services in the Services.msc application

Disable Superfetch, BITS and Windows Search

  • After double-clicking on the service name, select 'Disabled' from the 'Startup Type' dropdown
  • Click Apply

Repeat the above steps for the Windows Search service and for the BITS service.

Restart your computer. Hopefully, this will solve your 100% drive usage problem.

Change the service to 'disabled' and click 'Apply'

Change the service to 'disabled' and click 'Apply'

Look for Problematic Programs

If disabling the above Windows Services does not help you, take a look at Resource Monitor to see if there are any programs that are consuming a lot of drive resources.

  • Press <Windows Key>
  • Search for Resource Monitor
  • Click on it to run it
  • Click on the Disk tab
  • Look for a process that is using a lot of Disk I/O time
  • End that process

If that solves the issue, update or uninstall the program that was consuming excess resources.

Find programs that are consuming too much Disk I/O with Resource Monitor

Find programs that are consuming too much Disk I/O with Resource Monitor

Run a Virus Scan and Update Your Drivers

If you are still having issues, then you should check for viruses and malware, and also update your drivers.

Use PortableApps and ClamAV to scan your computer. This software is free and does not need to be installed. You can set it up on a memory stick using a friend's computer, and then scan your machine with it.

If you are very familiar with the hardware in your machine, download the latest driver updates manually. If you are not familiar with your machine's specification,s use Driver Booster to check for updates. There is a free version of this software which will get the job done, although the pro version has some useful extra features. Often, updating your chipset/motherboard drivers will improve performance and solve a lot of issues. If you have an SSD, be sure to update the firmware as well.

Last-Ditch Solutions for 100% Drive Usage under Windows

If none of the above fixes solve the problem, then a last-ditch solution is to reinstall Windows. Be sure to back up your files before you do this!

Be aware, however, that persistent, difficult to diagnose issues with drive usage could be a sign that your hard drive is faulty. Consider replacing the hard drive as soon as possible, to avoid unwanted data loss.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2019 Leslie Ann