Have 100% disk usage in Windows 10? Your computer hangs and freezes. Same old Windows, right? Unless you're using a brand new Windows 10 device; you've only had it for a few days. So what's going on?
Upon examination, you will find that your system drive is 100% running. It can't be, can it? Unfortunately, it is so. The latest versions of Windows have a drive overload problem, which slows down the operating system. This issue affects both hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs).
There are several fixes available for this. But first you need to pursue the problem.
100% hard disk usage in Windows 10: Fixed!
When the bug was first discovered, few culprits were found. But over time, despite the 100% disk usage error reported to Microsoft, more causes of this error are discovered, not fewer.
For each possible cause of the error, click the link above to learn how to fix it.
Once you determine that there is a problem, there are several options available to you. Check the steps below one by one and check disk usage in Task Manager after each one.
Note that even if you can find a solution, a Windows Update can roll back the changes you made. Bookmarking this page will make it easier for you to find it in the future and try the fixes again.
1. Slow performance? Run disk check
This performance issue is most evident when trying to use Windows Search to find a file or program, and anything else that requires the drive to do some work (possibly copying and pasting a group of files).
To see if this is a problem that affects you the next time your computer slows down, use Task Manager to run a disk scan.
First press Ctrl + Alt + Del and choose Task manager (or Right click the Taskbar and choose Task manager, or hit Ctrl + Shift + Esc). Note that it may take some time to open if the drive is loaded.
On the Processes Search tab for the disc Pillar. If you are having problems with the drive performance, it will be displayed at 100% and highlighted in red to indicate whether or not there is a problem.
Problem sectors on your hard drive can cause 100% disk usage problem in Windows 10. However, using Windows' built-in hard drive scan can fix this:
Open Windows Explorer
Choose This pc
- Right click on the C: drive and select Properties> Tools
Under Error checking, click Check > Scan drive
Wait while the system scans the drive; a full hard drive repair may require a reboot. This should fix the error.
2. Update your anti-virus if the Windows 10 hard drive is 100% running
As with any performance problem, the first thing you need to do is make sure that your computer is not infected with malware. Your security software should be able to handle it, whether it's a free app or a paid suite.
At the very least, tools like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware should be able to scan your system drive and detect problems. Note that this can take a while even if your drive is under heavy load.
If threats are found, use the software's recommendations to discard and restart. Next, double-check the performance of your drive. Hopefully you've solved the problem; If not, then malware wasn't to blame, so read on.
3. Disable Windows Search for improved hard drive performance
Next, you need to check if the 100% disk usage error has something to do with Windows Search.
A bug in Windows 10 leads to a "search loop" which causes an increased load on the system drive.
To stop this and prevent it from happening during your current session (until Windows restarts):
Right click on start
Choose Windows PowerShell (administrator)
Enter net.exe stop "Windows Search"
That should solve most of the problems. If there is no change even after restarting, you can permanently disable Windows search and indexing.
Press WIN + R
Art msc, then click OK
By doing Services Window that opens find Windows search and double click to open
in the Windows search properties Find Start type and choose Deactivated
You can also click Stop to cancel the service
click OK to save your changes.
A few moments after turning off Windows Search, your Windows 10 performance should improve significantly. If not, go on …
4. Disable SysMain to 100% fix disk usage in Windows 10
Another Windows 10 feature that has been identified as a potential cause of the 100% disk usage issue is the Superfetch service. Since Windows 10 1809 (the Windows 10 October Update 2018) this has been renamed "SysMain".
To prevent this service from causing the disk usage problem, open another Windows PowerShell (Admin) and type:
net.exe stop sysmain
Again, wait a moment to see if this has affected your computer's performance. You should also run Check Disk in PowerShell:
chkdsk.exe / f / r
You will be informed that your PC must be restarted for Check Disk to complete. So make sure you have closed all of your applications first.
If that doesn't work, you chances are you have a frustrating recurrence of this problem that is easy to fix.
5. Is flash causing the 100% disk usage error?
Flash remains one of the most vulnerable aspects of modern computers and should be disabled. Adobe got rid of its multimedia plugin in 2020, so there's little reason to keep using it, especially since Flash appears to be one of the most common culprits for 100% disk usage in Windows 10 with the Google Chrome browser.
How to turn off Flash in the Google Chrome browser:
to open Menu> Settings> Privacy and security
click Page settings
Find Flash and flip the switch to Prevent websites from running Flash
click Back to confirm, then restart browser restart
Next, you need to update to the latest version of Chrome. In most cases this will happen automatically, but if not, just go to Menu> Help> About Google Chrome and wait for the update to finish.
If you can't see any of the options, don't worry. It simply means that your version of Chrome has already been updated and no longer supports Flash.
6. Hard disk usage at 100%? Switch web browser
Flash cannot be affecting your browser's performance.
Another cause could be the browser itself, especially if you are using Google Chrome.
The obvious option is to choose a different browser. Two browsers are already integrated in Windows 10. Chances are you don't want to use Internet Explorer, but Microsoft Edge is an adequate replacement for Chrome.
There are several browsers available, some better than others.
7. Is Skype eating hard drive resources?
Another widely used application could also cause your 100% HDD usage is Skype. At a time when online collaboration and video conferencing are on the rise, Skype is likely a culprit.
Since Skype has been more closely integrated with Windows 10, it's a little harder to deal with. However, you can stop Skype from running to see if that is the source of the problems.
Press WIN + I to open settings
Go to Apps> Apps & Features and scroll down to Skype
click Skype, then Expanded options
Scroll down here to break up and click the button
Go back to Task Manager to see the change. You can also consider finding a Skype alternative. If the 100% disk usage error occurs right after Windows loads, it is a good idea to turn off Skype autoloading. Under Runs when you log in, change the switch from on to out.
Other issues related to Skype can also be addressed from this screen. You can repair, Reset to default, and even Uninstall Skype to help you troubleshoot.
8. Fix the PCI Express firmware bug
Some drivers are not working as they should on Windows 10. One that has found the hard drive to be 100% full is the StorAHCI.sys driver, which has a firmware bug. StorAHCI.sys is intended for storage devices that are connected to the PC or laptop motherboard via the Advanced Host Controller Interface PCI-Express.
How to find out if this is the problem and rule it out:
Right click on Start and select Device manager
Expand IDE ATA / ATAPI controller
Double click on that AHCI controller entry
By doing driver Select tab Driver details
If the driver is listed as C: Windows system32 DRIVERS storahci.sys, you could be affected by this error. Next:
Close the field with the driver details
By doing details Select tab Device instance path from the drop down menu
- Right click the value, then Copy.
- Start Notepad and Insert the content
Next, press WIN + R and type regedit, and click OK
Find HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE System CurrentControlSet Enum PCI and use the inserted string from notepad to open the correct AHCI controller followed by the random number.
Expand here Device parameters Interrupt Management MessageSignaledInterruptProperties and you should see MSISupported listed in the right pane. Double click on it, then change the value data: to 0.
click OK Confirm and follow the instructions to restart Windows.
9. Is Steam overloading your hard drive?
Have fun playing and have Steam installed? There's a good chance this digital delivery system is causing 100 percent disk usage.
Usually this is due to the delivery of updates which can cause the background downloader to get into a loop. To fix this, clear the Steam cache.
First, make sure you've quit Steam. If Steam is a likely cause of the 100% disk usage error, it may get stuck on exiting. In this case, use Windows 10's Task Manager to close the software.
Next, open the WIN + R Run box and enter
steam: // flushconfig
You will see a dialog box informing you that the content will be deleted.
click OK Continue.
Note that games and saved games are kept so there is no risk of them being deleted.
10. Disable diagnostic tracking in Windows 10
Finally, it's worth considering the impact of diagnostic tracking in Windows 10. A function that you might otherwise have deactivated for data protection reasons has been blamed for 100% hard disk usage on many PCs.
When it comes to reducing the use of your hard drive, it is faster to simply turn off the DiagTrack service. If this is the cause of the 100% disk usage error in Windows 10, then you can stop the service from starting.
However, to do this you need to access the Command Prompt in Administrator mode.
click begin and type cmd in the search field
Select in the results Execute as administrator
Entrance sc config "DiagTrack" start = deactivated
Entrance sc stop "DiagTrack"
When you're done, close the Command Prompt. You can also restart Windows.
11. Windows Update can result in 100% hard disk usage
Not only can Windows Update affect the changes you make to your PC when it fixes 100% disk usage issue, it can also be a cause of it.
This usually only happens when Windows Update has a problem (which is usually due to a file refusing to download). You have two options here:
- Leave your computer alone— close all your open applications and wait. Eventually the files will download, but depending on how Windows Update is scheduled on your computer, a restart may be required.
- Shut down your computer— Once you do, restart and wait for Windows Update to fix the problem.
Once the update has been downloaded, it is advisable to run it asap. Remember to check all previous fixes for 100% disk usage before proceeding. As mentioned above, Windows Update can undo these fixes.
12. Reset your virtual memory
Virtual memory is a combination of RAM and hard drive space and can be responsible for overusing your hard drive. When there is not enough memory to complete a task, the hard drive is used to replenish the memory. Data moved to the hard drive is then returned to RAM if necessary.
If you've made it this far and still haven't resolved your 100 percent disk usage issue, it might be worthwhile to reset your virtual memory.
Press Windows + pause / pause
Find and click on the right Advanced system settings
By doing Advanced Tab go to performance > Settings
Select the new one Advanced tab
Under the section labeled Virtual memory click change
Uncheck the box for Automatically manage paging file size for all drives
Next, choose the Windows drive (usually C 🙂 and then Custom format
Add Original size and a maximum size; Note that both are measured in MB, not GB
After entering the values, click to adjust then OK keep going
These numbers can be confusing. So for the first value, rely on the recommended option. For the maximum value, aim for a number no more than 1.5 times your system RAM.
For example, a computer with 4 GB of RAM should be no more than 6.5 GB (6144 MB).
The next step is to delete the temporary files that were used in the previous virtual memory allocation.
Open run with WIN + R
Enter temp and click OK
Select all files in the temporary directory with. out Ctrl + A and hit Clear
13. Activate high performance mode
Windows' default power modes are prone to the 100% disk usage error, but switching to high performance often fixes the problem.
The downside, of course, is that your computer uses more power. Thanks to modern processor design, this shouldn't be a big problem. However, notebooks and desktop replacement laptops can affect battery life.
To switch to high performance:
click WIN + X> energy options
In the Power & Sleep screen, click Additional energy settings
Choose here High performance, then OK
If you don't see this option, you'll need to create your own custom power plan. click Create a power plan, then choose High performance. Give the plan a name, customize any personal settings you need, then select it as the power plan to use.
In a moment or two, the 100% disk usage problem should drop to less than 10%.
14. Install the latest SATA drivers
Could a storage device driver result in a 100% disk usage error?
Your Windows 10 computer almost certainly uses SATA connections for hard drives, SSDs, and optical drives. If the drivers are not up to date, the disk usage error can occur.
Avoid this by updating to the latest SATA drivers.
Right click begin
Select in the power user menu Device manager
Expand Storage controller
Identify the correct controller for your SATA devices
To update, Right click on each controller and select Update driver
Choose Search my computer for driver software possibility
Next, choose then Let me choose from a list of available drivers on my computer
Choose here Standard AHCI controller and see how this affects performance
You may need to restart Windows for this to take effect. Note that even if it doesn't work, you can try this by checking for a new driver on the manufacturer's website. This can be installed using the instructions provided.
15. Could your PC's power supply unit (PSU) cause 100% hard drive usage?
Chances are that your computer's hardware is causing the 100% disk usage problem in Windows: specifically the power supply.
If disk usage problems are the result of excessive disk activity, it may be a power-related cause.
100% hard drive usage was found on Windows 10 battery powered laptops. After connecting to the power supply, the problem is resolved. Similarly, the problem has emerged as soon as a new power supply is installed in a desktop PC.
Read our guide to new PC power supplies to help you choose a replacement.
16. Windows help causes 100% hard disk usage
Another problem traced back to 100% disk usage in Windows 10 is the operating system's built-in active help tool. You will have noticed this feature that opens up the first time with useful tips and suggestions.
If you suspect this is causing a disk usage problem in Windows 10, you can disable it:
Press WIN + I to open the settings
Choose here System> Notifications & Actions
Find and deactivate Get tips, tricks, and suggestions as you use Windows
A few moments later it should get better.
17.Is WaasMedicAgent.exe slowing down Windows 10?
WaasMedicAgent.exe (part of the Windows Update Medic Service) is falsely identified as a virus or malware and is a Microsoft system process that checks downloaded Windows Update files. If there is a problem with the data, the files will be downloaded again – a process that can leave your hard drive 100% intact.
To fix this,
Press WIN + R to open a run box
Enter regedit then OK to open the registry editor
Before proceeding, make a registry backup with File> Exportto save the backup in a safe place
Paste this path in the browser bar: Computer HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SYSTEM CurrentControlSet Services WaaSMedicSvc
Right-click in the right pane begin and choose To change
Set the Measured value to 4th then OK shut down
Disabling Update Medics is an extreme step. However, it is one way to avoid Windows 10 disk usage from reaching 100%.
The hard disk utilization should rarely be 100%
Put simply, there is hardly any reason your hard drive utilization is close to 100%, especially not with normal use. A slow computer is having a problem, and if you can't fix it by disabling a browser plug-in, stopping services, or running your antivirus software, the problem could well be hardware related.
Perhaps your drive is getting old; it may be defective or the cables need to be replaced.
Try these fixes the next time your Windows computer slows down. Check your Windows Performance Index regularly to identify performance problems that need to be addressed immediately.
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About the author
(1489 articles published)
Deputy Editor for Security, Linux, DIY, Programming and Tech Explained and a really useful podcast producer with extensive experience in desktop and software support.
As a contributor to Linux Format Magazine, Christian is a Raspberry Pi tinkerer, Lego lover and retro gaming fan.
By Christian Cawley
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