Windows, which is made by Microsoft, is a world-class operating system that has dominated the PC market for decades. All the major PC manufacturers, including HP, Acer, Lenovo, and Samsung, all sell this OS with their hardware.
Over the decades, windows have been iterated through various versions, including Windows Vista, Windows professional, Windows 7, Windows 10, and Windows 11, which is the latest update. Windows is the most used OS in the world, which is a good thing when you are looking for solutions to problems.
Windows PC users who experience issues such as slow response time may look to their Task Manager for guidance. The Task Manager provides you with a wealth of information regarding the processes that are currently running on your machine.
Very high disk usage is a bad thing. If you see disk usage reaching or near 100% on Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Delete) in Windows 11 or other earlier versions, there is probably a hard disk or operating system issue.
Excessive disk usage will cause your computer to slow down, becoming laggy and unresponsive. As a result, your PC cannot perform its tasks properly.
Among the metrics you can monitor with the Task Manager is your computer’s disk usage. If you see a disk usage of 100% your machine’s disk usage is maxed out and your system’s performance will be degraded. You need to take some corrective action.
What Is Disk Usage?
Disk usage (DU) refers to the portion or percentage of computer storage that is currently in use. It contrasts with disk space or capacity, which is the total amount of space that a given disk is capable of storing.
Thus, when we speak of high disk usage, we’re addressing a problem (the higher the disk usage is, the slower your machine will run). If the disk usage hits 100%, your computer will “freeze”, and stay that way until all the processes have had an opportunity to carry out their assigned task.
Causes of High Disk Usage on Windows
There are several potential causes for high disk usage in Windows PC, but most come down to the same basic idea: Too many things are running for the computer to handle.
One common cause is swapping or paging. Swapping occurs when a computer runs out of physical memory (RAM) and needs more space to store information about the running processes and applications. It uses a file on the hard drive called “swapfile.sys” to hold it. As Windows works with that information, it constantly reads and writes to “swapfile.sys”, driving up disk usage.
You also might find that applications that search through or use many files at once access the hard drive at an alarming rate behind the scenes. Many applications can behave this way, including antivirus software and some utilities that are installed with Windows.
Here are various methods that you can use to attempt to resolve the problem of high disk usage on your Windows PC system. Some may take longer than usual due to the stress and increased usage that your hard drive is already under.
This guide is applicable for all modern versions of Windows such as Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7.
Since most of the Windows’s features are built backward-compatible – most, if not all, of the solution provided in this guide will work on even older versions as well.
Restart Your System
You know from experience that restarting your machine can often resolve all kinds of issues. Your Windows PC 100% disk usage problem is no exception. While taking this route may not help you find out the underlying reason for the problem, if it goes away, that may be sufficient for you.
Be sure to use the “Restart” option which starts your system in a fresh state as opposed to the “Shut Down” option which preserves your system state and may not resolve your disk issue.
Installing the latest updates can often resolve mysterious problems with your Windows PC system. Check if you are up-to-date by going into the “Update and security” section of the Windows Settings app.
You can check for new updates and install them if they are available.
Settings > Update & Security settings > Windows Update
This may improve the overall performance of your system, including that of your hard drive.
Disable Windows Search
A known bug in Windows PC can cause a search loop that can be the cause of your high disk usage. To temporarily stop the Windows Search facility and see if it improves your disk issue, open an admin prompt and enter the command: net.exe stop “Windows search”. This will stop Windows search from running until the next time Windows is restarted.
If it turns out that Windows Search was responsible for your Windows disk usage reaching 100%, disable it permanently by following this procedure:
- Press the Windows key + R, enter “services.msc”, and hit ENTER.
- The services window will open. Select the Windows Search entry and double-click it to update its properties.
- Select Disabled under Startup type and then OK to save your changes.
Disable Startup Programs
If your PC shows 100% disk usage when you first log onto the computer, but then the usage settles down after a few minutes, your startup programs are probably the culprit. These programs launch when your PC boots, and they eat up a lot of resources.
In this case, you should turn all these startup programs off and see if that improves your disk usage by following the steps listed below:
- Right-click on the Start menu and click on the Task Manager.
- Click on More Details on the bottom left of the pop-up window.
- Select the Startup tab.
- Then, right-click each program on the list and select Disable.
- Restart your PC and see if the issue is resolved
You can always re-enable any startup program after you complete this test.
Disabling the startup of a program does not uninstall it. You can run the program any time, you just have to manually launch it.
Check For Malware
Your computer may be infected with malware that is causing your disk usage to spike. If you have antivirus software running in the background, it should have caught the issue. Some malware might escape the previous scanning, therefore consider forcing your antivirus package to scan your hard drive for a potential infection.
This could be a time-consuming process since your disk is already experiencing high usage yet might prove necessary in identifying and removing malicious software.
Stop the Superfetch Service
Another Windows PC feature that can cause problems is the Windows “Superfetch” service. Just disable this service temporarily in a similar fashion to Windows search with the command: “net.exe stop superfetch”.
To disable the service permanently:
- Press the Windows key + R, enter “superfetch.msc”, and hit ENTER.
- The services window will open. Select the superfetch entry and double-click it to update its properties.
- Select Disabled under Startup type and then OK to save your changes.
Change Energy Options from Balanced to High Performance
This change of energy settings seems to have worked for a number of users who have experienced 100% disk usage on Windows.
Use this procedure:
- Go to Power Options > Change plan settings > Change advanced power settings.
- Select the High-performance option from the drop-down box and make sure all plan settings are set to their defaults.
Temporarily Turn Off Your Antivirus Software
Another step to take when investigating the cause behind your Windows PC 100% disk usage problem is to turn off your antivirus software temporarily. See if this improves your disk usage. If so, you may want to consider changing antivirus packages.
Even Windows Defender can cause problems by increasing I/O and network usage, which might lead to high disk usage.
Disable Message Signaled Interrupt (MSI) Mode (Firmware Bug)
Disabling Message Signaled Interrupt also solves this problem for a lot of users. StorAHCI.sys is a driver that has the firmware bug associated with high disk usage. This means that it might be behind the issue and disabling it will solve the issue for you.
- Hold Windows key and press R
- Type devmgmt.msc and press Enter
- Double click IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers
- Double click Standard SATA AHCI controller
- Click Driver tab
- Click the Driver Details button
- If the driver file name is StorAHCI.sys then you are running the inbox driver, and you need to make some changes to Registry Key
- Click Details tab
- Select Device Instance Path from the drop-down menu under Property
- Note the path that is shown or keep it open here
- Hold the Windows key and press R
- Type regedit.exe and press Enter
- Navigate to this address HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Enum\PCI\”Device Instance Path taken from step”\Device Parameters\Interrupt Management.
To navigate this path, then follow the steps given below
- Double click HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE from the left pane
- Double click System from the left pane
- Double click CurrentControlSet from the left pane
- Double click Enum from the left pane
- Double click PCI from the left pane
- Double click “Device Instance Path taken from step” from the left pane
- Double click Device Parameters from the left pane
- Double click Interrupt Management from the left pane
- Now click MessageSignaledInterruptProperties from the left pane
- Double click MSISUpported from the right pane
- Change its value from 1 to 0
- Click Ok
Now reboot your computer and your problem should be solved now. If you see multiple controllers in your device management screen (step 4), repeat the above process from all the controllers and then check if the 100% Disk Usage is now dropped down.
Reset Virtual Memory in Windows PC
Virtual memory treats your disk as if it is RAM and uses it to swap out temporary files when it runs out of actual RAM. Errors in the pagefile.sys can cause 100% disk usage on your Windows machine.
The remedy to this problem is to reset your virtual memory settings.
Follow these steps to reset your virtual memory:
- In your computer’s “System Properties” you need to click on “Advanced system settings”.
- Click “Settings” in the Performance section.
- Select the “Advanced” tab and click the “Change” button.
- Make sure the box titled “Automatically manage paging file size” is checked.
Uncheck the option Automatically manage paging file size for all drives, if not already unchecked. In the same window, select the primary drive where your OS is installed and select Custom size.
The initial size should be set to the recommended value that you can see just below. The maximum size should be set to 1.5 times the size of your RAM. If your PC has 4 GB RAM, don’t set it to more than 6 GB.
- You can also choose “No paging file”, Press OK, and then reboot. This will inhibit the use of virtual memory and may improve your system’s disk performance.
Run Check Disk
A check disk can show you if there are any physical problems with your hard drive. Usually, a high disk usage indicates that there is an application or logical issue driving the disk usage, but it is worth your time to rule out any physical damage. Run check disk and note its results.
Change Settings in Google Chrome
Some users have reported that making these changes to your Google Chrome settings can have a beneficial effect on your disk usage.
For Chrome, make this change:
- Settings → Show advanced settings.
- Under the Privacy section, uncheck the “Use a prediction service to load pages more quickly” option.
Change Settings in Skype
Yes, users have been complaining about Skype being a resource-hog for years now, and things haven’t improved with the latest Windows versions. Make sure to quit Skype before proceeding.
You can stop Skype from the system tray or Task Manager itself. You can also use it to open the file location or go there manually by opening the folder where you installed it.
Right-click on the Skype.exe file and select Properties or use the ALT+Enter shortcut.
Under the Security tab, click on Edit to change permissions.
Select ALL APPLICATION PACKAGES and enable the Write option under the Allow column. Click on Apply and OK to save. Time to recheck the disk usage.
The problem seems to be arising from OneDrive for a lot of users. Many users have complained about the high disk usage when they signed in to OneDrive. So, signing out and unlinking the OneDrive resolves the issue of high disk usage.
Follow the steps given below to unlink OneDrive.
- Right-click your OneDrive icon in the system tray (right bottom corner). If you can’t see it, then you might have to click the upward arrow button, and it will show up.
- Select Settings
- Select Account tab
- Click Unlink this PC
- Click Unlink account
Now restart your computer and check if the issue is still there or has been solved.
You can also completely uninstall Microsoft OneDrive by following the steps given below
- Hold the Windows key and press R
- Type “appwiz.cpl” and press Enter
- Locate Microsoft OneDrive
- Select Microsoft OneDrive and select Uninstall
- Follow any on-screen instructions
Disable Windows Notifications
Disabling Windows notifications is known to solve the issue for many. You can easily disable the notifications from your settings
- Press the Windows key once
- Select Settings from the start menu
- Select System
- Select Notifications & actions
- Turn off all the notifications under the Notifications section
Wait a few seconds, and you will be good to go. Your disk usage should go down within 10 seconds.
Feedback & diagnostics
Settings the Feedback & diagnostics option to basic seems a viable solution when it comes to lowering the disk usage. Usually, your Feedback & diagnostics will be set to either Full or Enhanced. Turning it back to Basic will lower the disk usage.
Steps for lowering the Feedback & Diagnostics are given below
- Press and Hold Windows key and press I
- Select Privacy
- Select Feedback & diagnostics
- Select Basic from the drop-down menu in the Diagnostic and usage data section
Now check the disk usage, and it should be lowered significantly.
Cancelling Windows Performance Recorder (WPR)
Windows Performance Recorder, as its name implies, is a tool that is used to record and report your performance to Microsoft. It is located at %SystemRoot%\System32 and comes with Windows. Canceling the WPR via command prompt solves the issue of high disk usage.
Note: This is a workaround and not a permanent solution. You will have to repeat this process on every reboot of your system.
- Press the Windows key once
- Type Command Prompt in the Start Search box
- Right-click the Command Prompt from the results and select Run as administrator
- Type WPR –cancel and press Enter
Now you should be good to go. But, remember, this process has to be repeated every time the device is restarted.
Disable Connected User Experiences and Telemetry
Disabling Connect User Experiences and Telemetry service is also known to solve the issue.
- Press and Hold ALT, CTRL, and Delete keys simultaneously (ALT + CTRL + DELETE)
- A new screen will open.
- Select Task Manager
- Select Services tab
- Locate DiagTrack
- Right-click DiagTrack and select Stop
- Right Click DiagTrack and select Open Services
- Locate the service Connect User Experiences and Telemetry
- Double click Connect User Experiences and Telemetry
- Select Disabled from the drop-down menu in Startup type
- Click Recovery tab
- Select Take no Action from the drop-down menu in First Failure. Repeat this for Second Failure and Subsequent Failures
- Click Apply then select Ok
Once done, you should be good to go. This is a permanent solution, and you won’t have to repeat on every reboot.
Create a BAT file
When creating a BAT file that supports full disk error correction, the computer will refresh and re-register all system DLLs. In addition, the cause often leads to a full disk error due to Windows Update, so this method will also restart this feature and delete temporary update files saved on the system. The error of software conflicts on the device is also the cause of the full disk error, so when creating the BAT file will also restart the software to avoid conflicts.
To fix 100% Disk Usage by creating a BAT file:
Open the Run dialog box with Windows + R key combination, then enter the keyword notepad to open it.
Copy the following script into the Notepad.
regsvr32 comcat.dll / s regsvr32 shdoc401.dll / s regsvr32 shdoc401.dll / i / s regsvr32 asctrls.ocx / s regsvr32 oleaut32.dll / s regsvr32 shdocvw.dll / I / s regsvr32 shdocvw.dll / s regsvr32 browseui.dll / s regsvr32 browseui.dll / I / s regsvr32 msrating.dll / s regsvr32 mlang.dll / s regsvr32 hlink.dll / s regsvr32 mshtmled.dll / s regsvr32 urlmon.dll / s regsvr32 plugin.ocx / s regsvr32 / s sendmail.dll regsvr32 scrobj.dll / s regsvr32 mmefxe.ocx / s regsvr32 corpol.dll / s regsvr32 jscript.dll / s regsvr32 msxml.dll / s regsvr32 imgutil.dll / s regsvr32 thumbvw.dll / s regsvr32 cryptext.dll / s regsvr32 rsabase.dll / s regsvr32 inseng.dll / s regsvr32 iesetup.dll / i / s regsvr32 cryptdlg.dll / s regsvr32 actxprxy.dll / s regsvr32 dispex.dll / s regsvr32 occache.dll / s regsvr32 occache.dll / i / s regsvr32 iepeers.dll / s regsvr32 urlmon.dll / i / s regsvr32 cdfview.dll / s regsvr32 webcheck.dll / s regsvr32 mobsync.dll / s regsvr32 pngfilt.dll / s regsvr32 licmgr10.dll / s regsvr32 icmfilter.dll / s regsvr32 hhctrl.ocx / s regsvr32 inetcfg.dll / s regsvr32 tdc.ocx / s regsvr32 MSR2C.DLL / s regsvr32 msident.dll / s regsvr32 msieftp.dll / s regsvr32 xmsconf.ocx / s regsvr32 ils.dll / s regsvr32 msoeacct.dll / s regsvr32 inetcomm.dll / s regsvr32 msdxm.ocx / s regsvr32 dxmasf.dll / s regsvr32 l3codecx.ax / s regsvr32 acelpdec.ax / s regsvr32 mpg4ds32.ax / s regsvr32 voxmsdec.ax / s regsvr32 danim.dll / s regsvr32 Daxctle.ocx / s regsvr32 lmrt.dll / s regsvr32 datime.dll / s regsvr32 dxtrans.dll / s regsvr32 dxtmsft.dll / s regsvr32 WEBPOST.DLL / s regsvr32 WPWIZDLL.DLL / s regsvr32 POSTWPP.DLL / s regsvr32 CRSWPP.DLL / s regsvr32 FTPWPP.DLL / s regsvr32 FPWPP.DLL / s regsvr32 WUAPI.DLL / s regsvr32 WUAUENG.DLL / s regsvr32 ATL.DLL / s regsvr32 WUCLTUI.DLL / s regsvr32 WUPS.DLL / s regsvr32 WUWEB.DLL / s regsvr32 wshom.ocx / s regsvr32 wshext.dll / s regsvr32 vbscript.dll / s regsvr32 scrrun.dll mstinit.exe / setup / s regsvr32 msnsspc.dll / SspcCreateSspiReg / s regsvr32 msapsspc.dll / SspcCreateSspiReg / s regsvr32 / s urlmon.dll regsvr32 / s mshtml.dll regsvr32 / s shdocvw.dll regsvr32 / s browseui.dll regsvr32 / s jscript.dll regsvr32 / s vbscript.dll regsvr32 / s scrrun.dll regsvr32 / s msxml.dll regsvr32 / s actxprxy.dll regsvr32 / s softpub.dll regsvr32 / s wintrust.dll regsvr32 / s dssenh.dll regsvr32 / s rsaenh.dll regsvr32 / s gpkcsp.dll regsvr32 / s sccbase.dll regsvr32 / s slbcsp.dll regsvr32 / s cryptdlg.dll regsvr32 / s schannel.dll regsvr32 / s oleaut32.dll regsvr32 / s ole32.dll regsvr32 / s shell32.dll regsvr32 / s initpki.dll regsvr32 / s msscript.ocx regsvr32 / s dispex.dll regsvr32 jscript.dll / s del% temp% / Q / F net stop wuauserv ren% windir% system32catroot2 catroot2.old cd / d% windir% SoftwareDistribution rd / s DataStore / Q regsvr32 wuapi.dll / s regsvr32 wups.dll / s regsvr32 wuaueng.dll / s regsvr32 wucltui.dll / s regsvr32 wuweb.dll / s regsvr32 msxml.dll / s regsvr32 msxml2.dll / s regsvr32 msxml3.dll / s regsvr32 urlmon.dll / s net start wuauserv exit
Then click File> Save and save as fixFullDisk.bat. Click the Save button to save the newly created BAT file.
Right-click the newly created BAT file and select Run as Administrator to open the file with Admin rights. After running the file, just restart the computer to fix the error.
This method is relatively simple and fast without affecting the system or running programs.
Wipe SSD and Reinstall Windows OS
The last fix is to totally wipe the hard drive and reinstall Windows PC.
You may completely back up the Hard Drive, prepare a Windows PC installation media, and do a clean installation.
Check MiniTool Solutions to wipe the Hard Drive and reinstall windows PC.
Backup the Hard Disk
Back up the Window’s hard drive to safeguard all important data. This comes in handy if the reinstallation does not help at all, you do have a chance to return to your previous Windows OS to avoid the troublesome system settings and application installations.
Here you can also use MiniTool Partition Wizard Free to do this
- Launching MiniTool Partition Wizard again, select the system disk as the source disk, and choose “Copy Disk” from the menu.
- Choose a hard disk as the target disk. It is important to know that all data on the target disk will be removed for a successful disk clone.
- Continuing to the next page, you see several copy options listed here. Select the desired options you want and go on.
- When coming across the “how to boot from the new disk” message, read it carefully and click Finish.
Reinstall Windows OS
Go to the official download page to download the ISO. Use the latest release, Windows 11 and you should be fine.
How do you know high disk usage is slowing down your PC?
You’ll know that high disk usage is slowing down your PC because your PC will feel slower when you aren’t using it for anything resource-intensive. For example, if you’re browsing the web or opening a photo stored on your hard disk, but those tasks take five to ten seconds instead of just one, then high disk usage is likely the culprit.
Here are a few examples of when you can assume your hard disk is being used more than usual:
- When opening a folder of photos and videos, the preview thumbnails will take a long time to load, and the green bar at the top of Windows Explorer fills up very slowly.
- If you have a powerful gaming PC, loading a game or a new level takes noticeably longer, and there are occasional stutters. For example, the game randomly stops for one or two seconds as it’s loading new data into its memory, and the hard disk can’t keep up.
- While streaming, your audio or video player is constantly buffering or displaying blurry or interrupted playback that disrupts your online stream.
- Old-school mechanical hard disks are still quite noisy and make rattling noises when busy. If that happens, there’s disk thrashing going on.
- Weird lags when clicking on items, or opening menus or applications.
The clearest way to find out that high disk usage is slowing down your PC is to consult the Task Manager. Any process that consumes more than a few MB per second for a prolonged period of time is worth looking into, regardless of the performance impact.
For example, on a seven-year-old HP laptop with an old mechanical drive, the maximum read and write speeds are about 40 to 50 MB per second. If a single process takes up 25 to 30 MB, you might see 100% disk usage sooner than you expect.
But even a gaming PC with a superfast NVME M2 SSD, can transfer speeds of up to 5 GB per second, and fall victim to 100% disk usage.
A computer running Windows at 100% disk usage is an inefficient computer.
Can running Windows at 100% disk usage damage my disk?
If your Windows disk usage is at 100% for a long period of time, you might notice permanent damage. Constant disk usage increases the temperature and thus the chance that your disk will fail.
There’s nothing wrong with 100% disk usage for a few minutes, or even an hour. But if your disk is constantly at maximum capacity, and if this persists for several days at a time, performance may unravel.
High disk usage is a problem with an HDD or SSD. Mechanical disks have a physical head that moves across the disk to read and write to it. Sustained 100% usage can lead to mechanical failure. On a modern SSD, the lifespan of the individual cells can decrease if you’re constantly writing and deleting data.
It’s unlikely that you’ll experience data or hardware loss in the short term, but it’s definitely a possibility if high disk usage persists. You should identify the culprit and learn how to fix 100% disk usage as soon as possible.
Low memory and high usage
As discussed above, once your PC runs out of RAM, it uses a virtual page file on your disk. If you don’t have enough RAM to support the programs you use, you’ll force your PC to constantly dip into this page file. That happens, especially with 4 GB of RAM or less. In that case, you should update your RAM.
How NOT to fix Windows at 100% disk usage?
There are a lot of tips and tricks out there to fix high disk usage. Some are useful, while others are unhelpful or dangerous.
- Don’t disable your antivirus: Turning off your AV will put you at risk.
- Don’t disable disk defragmentation or turn it off: If a defragmentation process is going on, Windows will pause it while you’re working. Let it do its thing while you’re not working, and do not turn it off.
- Don’t disable Windows Update: Windows Update is critical to maintaining your security and fixing bugs. While your PC may slow down temporarily while updating, you should always keep your PC updated.
Full disk error message 100% Disk Usage on the computer is annoying to the user, because of continuous error messages when using the computer, even restarting the PC several times. The 100% disk usage error can take a toll on the performance of your PC, but it can be easily remedied.
If these methods don’t resolve your issue with 100% disk usage on your Windows computer, you may need to look into replacing your hard drive. One last thing to try is to disable any automatic defrag processes that are running, as they may be causing you problems. In general, your hard drive should never be at 100% usage, so if it is, there is some reason for the condition. You need to fix the issue or risk a very slow-moving computer.
The Windows OS is a solid and dependable one. You can rely on it to give you total satisfaction when used. The OS might run into trouble sometimes, and these issues are mostly easy to fix. If your PC runs into a serious problem, it is best to consult with a technician to repair it for clean results.
Your computer disk should never be at 100% utilization. If this is the case, there must be a reason behind the problem, and you need to resolve it to avoid the frustration of a slow or freezing system.
Fortunately, the above solutions will more likely deal with these causes and reduce disk usage, hence improving the system performance. If all the methods fail to resolve the issue, it is advisable to reinstall Windows afresh or replace your computer’s hard disk.