10 Ways to Fix 100% Disk Usage in Windows 10

High disk usage can bog down your system

A slow-running computer often bogs because Windows commits significant system resources into disk read/write operations. When you open Task Manager and see 100% disk usage, stopping the process that's forcing that utilization brings Windows back to normal working order.

Many of the following fixes for 100% disk usage in Windows 10 are relevant to Windows 10, 8, 7, and Vista. However, some commands and system settings may vary.

Processes in Task Manager

Causes of High Disk Usage on Windows 10

There are several potential causes for high disk usage in Windows 10, but most come down to the same basic idea; too many things are running for the computer to handle.

One common cause that falls under this umbrella 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 all. As Windows works with that information, it constantly reads and writes to swapfile.sys, driving disk usage through the roof.

You also might find that applications that search through or utilize 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.

How to Fix High Disk Usage on Windows 10

Most of the time, the fixes for high disk usage come down to finding the process that uses the hard drive frequently and stopping it. Below are a few of the most common solutions.

  1. Disable Windows telemetry. Windows 10 collects data about the way you use it in the background. It's been the topic of controversy for privacy reasons, and it's a common cause of high disk usage. Disabling the service responsible can help give the hard drive a rest.

  2. Disable Windows search indexing. Windows keeps track of your files, and where files are located on the drive, so you can easily search for the file you need. Sometimes, the process Windows uses to create an index of where those files are can slow down the drive. Disable search indexing to decrease stress on the drive.

  3. Disable SuperFetch. SuperFetch is a utility that runs in the background on Windows, analyzing RAM usage to see which apps use the most. SuperFetch can use a lot of system resources, including writing to the drive frequently. Disable it to stop the process from running behind the scenes and writing to the drive.

  4. Disable Windows Tips. As you use Windows, an integrated app running in the background offers notifications with advice about the operating system. While this is the least-likely problem causing the disk usage utilization error, it is one more app running in the background that can cause problems. Turn off Windows Tips and see if it improves your system performance.

    To disable Windows Tips:

    1. Select Start, type notifications, and select Notifications & Actions Settings.
    2. In this window, disable Get tips, tricks, and suggestions as you use Windows.
  5. Give Skype write permissions. If you run Skype for Desktop on any version of Windows before Windows 10, Skype could be causing the disk usage problem. If Skype doesn't have permission to write data to one of its subfolders in Program Files (x86), it continues to write and ramps up hard drive usage.

    1. Open the C:\Program Files (x86)\Skype\Phone\ directory. Right-click Skype.exe.
    2. Go to the Security tab and select Edit.
    3. Select All Application Packages, then select the Write check box under Allow. Select OK.
  6. Disable prefetch in Chrome. A few features in Chrome are meant to speed up your browsing experience. One of those services is a prediction service in Chrome that analyzes what site you're likely to visit and preloads those pages in the background. However, this service also puts an extra load on your computer and the hard drive.

    In Firefox, disable prefetching by visiting about:config in the address bar, and setting the network.prefetch-next value to false. In Edge, go to Settings, scroll down to View advanced settings, and turn off Use page prediction to speed up browsing, improve reading, and make my overall experience better.

  7. Fix the AHCI driver. Microsoft acknowledges a known bug with some Advanced Host Controller Interface PCI-Express models on Windows 10. If your computer is affected, you'll experience 100% disk usage problems. To fix it:

    First, check that your computer has the AHCI driver.

    1. Select Start, type device manager, and select Device Manager.
    2. Select the IDE ATA/ATAPI drop-down arrow in the list, right-click SATA AHCI Controller, and select Properties.
    3. Go to the Driver tab and select Driver Details. If you see C:\Windows\system32\DRIVERS\storahci.sys in the Drivers files field, then your PC could be susceptible to this known bug.

    If you discovered that the storahci.sys driver file is on your system, the following steps will help you fix the problem if this known bug:

    1. Go to the Details tab and select Device instance path from the drop-down list. Copy the value there and paste it into a text editor (like Notepad).
    2. Open the Start menu, type regedit, and select the Regedit run command. In the Registry Editor, open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Enum\PCI\, and expand the folder of the value you saved into the text editor.
    3. Inside this folder, open Device Parameters\Interrupt Management\MessageSignaledInterruptProperties, double-click MSISupported, and change its value to 0.

    Editing inside the registry opens the door to inadvertent, significant configuration errors. Changing the wrong values may destabilize your computer. Make a backup of the registry by clicking File > Export and saving the .reg backup file to a folder or external hard drive.

  8. Add more RAM. If disk usage is high because your computer doesn't have enough physical memory (RAM), the best solution is to add more. RAM is one of the easiest upgrades on any PC, and it's relatively inexpensive. Plus, your computer will be able to multitask more efficiently as a result.

  9. Disable automatic Windows Updates. Another common cause of high disk utilization sources from Windows Updates taking place at random times, automatically. Stop Windows from updating at random, and you'll stop the drive from maxing out.

    If you disable automatic Windows Updates, run manual updates frequently. This process ensures you receive important security updates that keep your computer safe from viruses and malware.

  10. Scan for malware. If all else fails, there's a good chance you could have a virus or malware. The best thing to do at this point is to make sure you have good antivirus software and run a full system scan. A full scan can take a long time, but it finds and removes any malicious software that might be running on the system and spiking the disk usage.