With 100% disk usage, activities like booting to desktop, mouse movements, opening of apps and windows begin to lag obviously and sometimes they could become unresponsive entirely. Even more remarkably is when you open your task manager using Ctrl+Shift+Esc key combination, click on more details and under the process tab you will notice your disk utilization percentage nearing or consistently on 100%.
Below are 7 possible ways to resolve this problem:
SOLUTION 1: Disable Windows Search Service
The Windows Search service is designed to offer quick access to files, folders, applications, settings, and just about everything on your Windows which in turn are stored on the hard drive. To accomplish this, the search service is designed to constantly index all files on your disk so as to make them readily available when you search for them. This search indexing could overwhelm your disk read-write capacity and keep it at such high usage state, hence slowing down your Windows.
To disable windows search service, press the keyboard combination Ctrl + Shift + Esc, you should have your task manager pop up. Here click on the Services tab:
On the bottom of the page, click on “Open Services” you should have the services Window pop up.
On this window, search for “Windows Search”
Right-click on it and select properties. On the properties dialog box under General tab where it says Startup type, click on the drop-down and select disabled.
Apply and hit ok. Restart your computer and see if the problem has been resolved.
SOLUTION 2: Check Your Disk Defragmentation Configuration (Only HDD)
Defragmentation consolidates fragmented files on your hard drive and enables efficient and quicker access to storage locations on the drive. This is only applicable to mechanical hard drives (HDD). With solid state drives, defragmentation is not because of the efficient way in which SSD technology functions. In fact, it is highly recommended that you do not perform such defragmentation on the drive as this can reduce its life span.
With mechanical hard drives, scheduled defragmentation could get corrupted by some malware or applications, hence creating an undue process in the disk and causing such problems as 100% disk usage. To rectify this, you will need to stop and disable scheduled defragmentation from your task scheduler. To do that go to your windows search and type “task scheduler”, click on task scheduler from the search results.
On the window that pops up click on the arrow next to “Task Scheduler Library” to expand the folder, then click to further expand the “Microsoft” folder, then the Windows folder.
Under the Windows folder, locate the folder named “Defrag” and click on it, you will see an item in this window named “ScheduledDefrag”. Click on it and by the right, click on “End” to stop the process. Come back to this Action pane and click on Disable to stop this process from resuming again when next you boot up your Windows.
Restart your computer and see if this has fixed the problem.
SOLUTION 3: Update Your Device Drivers
This is more likely to solve the problem if you notice this issue just after installing a fresh copy of Windows. In that case chances are that after installing your drivers, Windows should be able to resolve this problem automatically. One way to do this will be to run a regular Windows update, to do that go to your Windows search and type “Check for updates” and click on check for updates from the search results.
On the windows that pops up, click on check for updates and wait for the updates to download and install. After running the updates, check your device manager to see if all the important drivers are installed.
If not, you can try to right-click on each one of such drivers and select update driver from the options, then on this window select search automatically for updated driver software, of course you will need an internet connection to complete this process. If that fails then you might need to search online for the corresponding drivers, download and install accordingly. After installing the required drivers, restart your computer and see if the problem has been resolved.
SOLUTION 4: Disable Superfetch (SysMain)
Superfetch (called SysMain in recent Windows 10 builds) is a background Windows feature that constantly monitors memory usage patterns and observes what apps you run most often, it then marks such apps as “frequently used” and preloads them into the memory ahead of time. Just like the Windows search service, Superfetch could silently be taking up a substantial amount of the read-write capacity of your disk especially if you run several different applications frequently on your Windows, hence over time this could be contributing to this problem of 100% disk usage and slowing down your Windows. As you can also see from the task manager in this image, Superfetch is one of the services that keeps coming up as this laptop suffers from this high disk usage problem, this might not necessarily be the issue in your case, but is worth checking to see if disabling it would resolve your problem.
To disable Superfetch go to your Windows search and type “CMD”, right-click on the command prompt app and select “run as administrator”.
On the command prompt terminal, type in the command “net.exe stop superfetch” and hit enter. It should say “Superfetch service is stopping”, and then “Superfetch service was stopped successfully”.
Wait for few minutes and check to see if this resolves the high disk usage issue, if not. If it helps, then you can permanently disable superfectch until you choose to turn it back on, to do that go to your task manager using the “Ctrl + Shift + Esc” key combination, then on the task manager, click on the Services tab, and then click on “Open services” at the bottom of the Window, on the services page, search for “Superfetch” right-click on it, and select properties.
On the properties dialog box where it says Startup type, click on the drop down and select disabled, then apply and hit ok.
SOLUTION 5: Reset Virtual Memory
Virtual memory is basically some kind of memory management technique that extends your RAM virtually into your hard disk, with the goal of improving performance. However, sometimes this technique could be generating a substantial amount of read-write request on the hard disk hence could lead to high disk usage. To reset your virtual memory, go to your windows search and type, control panel, click on control panel from the search results.
On the control panel Window where it says View by, click on the drop-down and select “large icons”. Then locate the System icon, and click on it.
Here click on “Advanced System Settings”.
The Systems properties dialog box should pop up.
On the advanced tab, click on settings under Performance.
The performance Options dialog box should pop up, here click on the advanced tab once again, and then under the Virtual memory, click on Change.
Below the Virtual memory window, you should see your Minimum allowed, Recommended and Currently allocated virtual memory sizes. Here if your currently allocated memory is larger than the recommended size then resetting it back to normal might help.
NB: This is not normally a problem, but in this case of high disk usage, you may want to set this back to the recommended size.
To do that first uncheck Automatically manage paging file size for all drivers. Then select Custom size, on the initial size field.
Put in the recommended size which in this case is 2394, then on the maximum size field put in 1.5 x the size of your RAM in MB. So, for a 4 GB RAM it will be (4 x 1024) x 1.5 which is 6144MB, for 8 GB RAM it will be (8 x 1024) x 1.5 which is 12288, and so one. Here it will be 12288, (type in what corresponds to your RAM size), then click on the set button to the right, and hit ok.
It then informs you that you have to restart before this change would take effect.
Hit ok, then apply, ok, and ok again. Then hit restart now to complete the process.
SOLUTION 6: Check the Configuration of Your AHCI PCIe
The AHCI which is short for Advanced Host Controller Interface, is a technical standard that defines the operation of your SATA host controller. This host controller is what connects your computer to the hard disk. Now without getting too deep into the technicalities of the processes involved, there are times when your disk would not respond properly to input output requests when the so called Message Signaled Interrupt (MSI) mode is enabled hence leading to such high disk usage problem, this could be due to firmware bug or some issues with the inbox AHCI driver called StorAHCI.sys driver. To resolve this issue, you first need to check to see if you are running the inbox AHCI driver. To do that go to your Device manager and search for IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers. Click on the arrow next to it to expand it, there you should have this Standard SATA AHCI Controller. Right-click on it and select Properties.
Then click on the Driver tab, and then Driver Details.
Here if you have the “storahci.sys” driver in the list, then you’re running the inbox driver.
Now close this and go back to the controller Properties window. Here click on details, then under Properties, use the drop down to select “Device instance path“.
Then you should have a value like in the image below, here you should take note of this value, you can copy it out or take a screenshort.
To disable MSI mode for the controller in the registry, go to your search and type registry, click on Registry editor from the search results.
On the registry editor, carefully navigate to the following folder HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Enum\PCI\
Then locate your AHCI Controller, (that’s the value you copied out.)
Double-click on the MSISupported key and change the value data from 1 to 0, hit ok, and close the registry.
Now restart your computer and see if the problem has been resolved.
SOLUTION 7: Disable Windows Update Service
Again this should not normally cause such problem, but sometimes due to malware or some sort of malfunctioning your windows update service could run into a loop that could be taking up and huge portion of the read-write capacity of your disk hence leading to such problem as the 100% disk usage. In this case, you can try to disable automatic Windows update service to see if it fixes this problem, I have demonstrated how to do that in this video.
If you encounter some errors trying to run or disable Windows update, check out our article on How to Fix Windows 10 Update Error 0x80080008.
SOLUTION 8: Backup, Format, and Re-install Windows
If none of these suggestions above has worked for you, then you might consider backing up your files and reinstalling Windows. You can also try Resetting Your Windows Back to Factory Settings.
SOLUTION 9: Try Using an SSD
This recommendation comes from countless testimonies of those who were having this problem and none of the solutions above could help resolve the issue until they switched from mechanical hard drive to SSD. Without going too technical about this recommendation, most modern laptops and desktops are designed with SSD in mind. Actually some experts also argue that Windows 10 was designed with a similar assumption in mind, also to runs on SSDs. The fact is that we will continue to see more and more adoption of SSDs in every aspect of modern computing. As such all related technologies will naturally follow the trend. Errors such as high disk usage could result from any of the issues listed above, but it can also result from a mismatch between the computer hardware and the storage disk. As such changing from a mechanical hard drive to an SSD could be the final solution to this problem.
If you are new to the SSD world and are confused on which SSD to go with, here are our recommended SSDs. This recommendation comes from the long-held track record of these SSDs, their reliability, excellent performance, and tons of positive user feedbacks.
Below is the video tutorial.