10 Ways to Fix 100% Disk Usage In Windows 10

High disk usage can bog down your system

Screenshot of Processes in Task Manager

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

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

High Usage in Windows 10

A bit of troubleshooting narrows down the offending program or service. Try the following solutions one at a time to assess their effect on out-of-control disk utilization.

Turn off Diagnostics Tracking (DiagTrack)

Screenshot of the Connected User and Telemetry Service

Starting with Windows 8.1, Microsoft included a diagnostics tracking tool with its operating system called DiagTrack. The goal of the service was to collect data about your PC and anonymously send it to Microsoft so that the company could improve its Windows product.

This runs as a service in the background. In many cases, this data collection service can write to disk constantly. Here's how you can check if this is causing your problem.

  1. Click the Windows Start menu, type Services and click Services tool.

  2. Find Connected User Experiences and Telemetry in the list of services. This is the name of the DiagTrack service. Right-click on the service and select Properties.

  3. Click Stop to stop the service.

  4. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del, click Task Manager and make sure the Processes tab is selected. Check whether the Disk column has dropped from 100-percent disk usage.

  5. If disk usage hasn't dropped, click Start (upper right, looks like a link) to restart the service. Skip this step and move on to the next section. If it has, that means Diagtrack is the problem. Back in the service properties window, change Startup type to Disabled, and click OK.

Disable Windows Search Indexing

A screenshot of disk drive properties showing indexing enabled

The Windows Index service isn't a new feature in Windows 10. It's been around since Windows 2000—at the time it was called Content Search.

The Index service scans your computer regularly and tries to identify new files or file changes on your disk drive. The service stores these changes in a special index so that when you search for files in Windows Explorer, results appear faster.

To check if the Windows Index service is causing your problem, follow the same steps as above, except:

When searching for the service to stop and disable, search for the Windows Search service in the list.

Disabling the Windows Search service may resolve your disk-utilization problem, but it also means searches in Windows Explorer will take much longer. This problem arises from a bug in Windows Search, and Microsoft patches various bugs frequently. Try running a Windows Update to see if it resolves this problem without the need to disable Windows Search.

Disable SuperFetch

SuperFetch runs in the background and constantly analyzes your RAM usage to identify apps that you run most often. It then attempts to preload those apps into memory before you need them.

Because SuperFetch is always running, it regularly writes data from your hard drive to RAM. SuperFetch is often the culprit when you notice the 100-percent disk usage glitch whenever you restart your computer.

To check if SuperFetch is causing your problem, follow the same steps as above.

When searching for the service to stop and disable, search for the SuperFetch service in the list.

If the SuperFetch service won't stop, disable it in the Registry.

  • Click the Start button, search for Regedit and open it. 
  • Open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE / SYSTEM / CurrentControlSet / Control / Session Manager / MemoryManagement / PrefetchParameters.
  • Double click the EnableSuperfetch parameter and change the value to 0. Click OK

Restart your computer to ensure SuperFetch is disabled.

Disable Windows Tips

Screenshot of notifications and actions settings window.

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 your disk usage utilization error, it is just one more app running in the background that can cause problems for some users.

Try turning 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.

Enable Skype Write Permissions

If you're running Skype for Desktop on any version of Windows before Windows 10, Skype could be causing your disk usage problem.

If Skype doesn't have permission to write data to one of its subfolders in Program Files (x86), it'll continue trying to write and ramp up your hard drive usage.

On Windows 10, install the Skype app from the Microsoft Store. This solution will not work on this version of Skype. If you still suspect Skype, open the Windows 10 Add or remove programs tool, click Skype and click Advanced Options. Click Terminate to terminate Skype and its processes.

  1. Open the C:\Program Files (x86)\Skype\Phone\ directory. Right-click Skype.exe.

  2. Select the Security tab and click Edit.

  3. Click ALL APPLICATION PACKAGES, and select the Write checkbox under Allow. Click OK.

If this procedure doesn't resolve your disk-usage problem, try uninstalling Skype entirely. This step will at least confirm whether Skype is responsible for the disk usage.

Disable Prefetch in Chrome

Screenshot of Chrome prediction service enabled

A few features in Chrome that are meant to speed up your browsing experience. One of those services is a prediction service in Chrome that tries to analyze what site you're likely to visit and preload those pages in the background.

However, this service also puts an extra load on your computer and the hard drive.

To see if disabling this service resolves your hard-drive problem, work through the following steps.

  1. Select the three dots near your profile image then select Settings.

  2. Scroll to the bottom of this page then select Advanced.

  3. In the Privacy and security section, disable Use a prediction service to load pages more quickly.

  4. Scroll down to the System section, and disable Continue running background apps when Google Chrome is closed.

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.

Fix Your AHCI Driver

Screenshot of AHCI driver properties

Microsoft acknowledges a known bug with some Advanced Host Controller Interface PCI-Express models on Windows 10. If your computer is affected, you'd experience 100-percent 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. Dropdown IDE ATA/ATAPI in the list, right-click SATA AHCI Controller, and select Properties.
  3. Select the Driver tab and click 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've discovered that you have the storahci.sys driver file on your system, the following steps will help you fix the problem if this known bug:

  1. Select 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've saved into your 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. Take a backup of the registry by clicking File > Export and saving the .reg backup file to a folder or external hard drive.

Give Virtual Memory a Rest: Buy More RAM!

Photo of computer RAM cards

Many tech experts will tell you that to resolve hard-drive usage problems cost by your computer's excessive use of virtual memory, you should tweak virtual memory settings. In fact, many gamers tweak their virtual memory settings to boost their PC performance.

However, if you set the pagefile setting too low and run too many applications, those programs can crash. If you set the pagefile space too large, whenever your insufficient RAM is used up the computer will resort to accessing the hard drive even more.

Leave the pagefile setting alone, and instead order additional RAM memory cards for your computer and extend your computer's available physical memory.

Disable Automatic Windows Updates

Screenshot of Advanced options in Windows Update settings

Another common cause of high disk utilization sources from Windows Updates taking place at random times, automatically. There are two options you can take to prevent this from happening.

Disable Automatic Windows Updates

One option is to turn off automatic windows updates and run it manually when it's more convenient.

Select Start, type windows updates and select Windows Update settings. Click Advanced options and make sure Automatically download updates is turned off.

Schedule Windows Updates

Another option is to block Windows Updates from running when you're most likely to be using your computer.

In the Windows Update settings screen, click Change active hours. Set the Start time and the End time to the time period when you usually use your computer.

If you do 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.

Check for Malware

Screenshot of Avast performing a full system scan

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'll find and remove any malicious software that might be running on your system and spiking the disk usage.