Opening up your task manager and seeing a Windows 10 100% disk usage error can be startling. Not only is it currently slowing your computer down, but it could also be causing damage by jostling the spinning components of a disk drive.
If left unchecked for long periods, this issue can also create too much heat for other components to deal with and slow your whole system down.
What Causes the Windows 10 100% Disk Usage Issues?
A disk at 100% in Windows 10 error can be frustrating, and the cause is difficult to pin down. But, you can follow these steps to help figure out the cause and then pick the best solution from our suggestions.
To identify high disk usage, Windows 10 can show data in the task manager with the following steps:
- Press ctrl+shift+esc on your keyboard to open task manager
- Click on the Disk column, so the little arrow is pointing down. The task manager will list the processes running on the disk in order of largest to most negligible impact.
- Any dark orange boxes mean the usage is high. Note which processes are putting increased demand on your disk. (You can see Chrome is putting high demand on the Memory in the example.)
A good rule of thumb is that processes that demand over 1MB/s are not good. It is typical for short bursts of 100% disk usage, but consistent levels of even over 20% can damage your PC or disk drive.
How to Fix 100% Disk Usage In Windows 10
So how do you fix this issue? There are many reasons why your hard drive can be running at 100%, and unfortunately, one solution doesn’t cover all the potential causes. We have assembled some of the most common solutions to the issue so you can make quick references to each and check which will work for you.
Because of the high disk usage, Windows 10 may run slower than usual, so you may have to be patient with some of these potential fixes.
Read on to figure out your fix for the 100% disk usage error.
Solution 1: The Classic Fix-All, A System Reboot
“Why is my disk at 100%, and how do I fix it?” could be answered with another question.
“Have you tried turning it off and on again?”
That question has become a classic turn of phrase since the integration of computers into our daily lives.
It works for many different issues with laptops and desktops, including the 100 percent disk usage error in Windows 10. Sometimes a program can get stuck loading on startup, and a reset will fix that.
The issue may come up again, or it may go away forever just from this simple fix.
Make sure you use restart instead of shut down when you’re performing this task. The restart will be more likely to return to a fresh state, and using shut down may cause the program that was causing the issue to come back on straight away.
Solution 2: Make Sure Windows Is Up To Date
Another classic first response solution for an IT issue is ensuring the operating system is up to date.
Microsoft releases these updates to improve functionality and safety within the Windows environment. So, the issue you’re currently experiencing may be one of those fixed with the latest patch.
To check whether your system is up to date, go to Start >Settings > Update & security>Windows update.
After updating, you may also see other boosts to your computer’s performance too.
Solution 3: Check for Viruses and Malware
If you have any software issues that transition into hardware faults, then a malware attack is a likely cause.
Even if you have a quality antivirus program running defense on your computer, it can sometimes miss things. Nothing is perfect, after all.
Run a system scan to help eliminate malware on the disk from the list of potential causes of the error.
A virus check may take an extremely long time as your disk is already running slow. But, it may also identify the issue. Be prepared to start the process and walk away from your computer for a few hours.
Solution 4: Complete a Cleanup of Junk Files
Junk files are single-use files that accumulate over time on your computer after completing tasks like viewing an image or browsing the web. They can cause performance issues, including high disk usage and a general slowing of your PC.
These files are unavoidable as your system needs to create them to perform certain functions. Still, if you regularly delete them, it should free up disk space and hopefully reduce 100% disk usage down to an acceptable level.
Some antivirus programs do this as part of their regular maintenance, so you can probably skip this method if you have a premium account on Avast, AVG, etc.
Luckily, Windows 10 has a built-in disk cleaner that does a great job of this in these few easy steps:
- Type disk cleanup into the search box of your taskbar and click on the app
- Choose the drive that is causing the issue on and press OK.
- When given the option for files to delete, select downloaded program files and temporary internet files, then click OK.
Solution 5: Boost the Power Settings
A strange but straightforward potential way to reduce 100% disk usage to a reasonable level is to change the power settings from Balanced to High Performance.
To do this, all you have to do is:
- Open up Control Panel.
- Navigate to System and Security> Power Options> Change plan Settings > Change advanced power settings.
- Select High performance and click Restore plan defaults.
4. Click OK.
Solution 6: Disable Windows Search
Sometimes the search function of Windows 10 can cause a loop that ends up being brutal on your disk usage.
You can temporarily turn off Windows search to see if it’s the issue and then turn it off permanently if you find it to be the cause.
To temporarily stop the Windows search process, follow these steps:
- Search command prompt by typing cmd in the search box (ironic).
- Right-click the app and click run as administrator or select it from the right side of the taskbar.
3. Type net.exe stop “Windows search” and press enter.
If you find that Windows search was causing the 100% disk usage issue, you can disable it permanently by using the following process:
- Press the Windows key + r to open the run dialog box.
- Type in services.msc and press enter.
- Double click on the Windows Search entry.
- Under Startup type, change the field to Disabled.
- Click Apply or OK to save the changes.
Solution 7: Disable Windows Superfetch
Superfetch’s normal function is to reduce boot time by helping programs load more efficiently. However, it can cause a high disk usage error for your Windows 10 device if it malfunctions.
You can temporarily and permanently stop Superfetch with the same process used to disable Windows search. Just type or find “Superfetch” instead.
Solution 8: Turn Off Your Antivirus Software
Although antivirus programs are designed to prevent issues arising on your computer, they can sometimes be the cause of them.
Most antivirus programs are simple to turn off from within their menus. If you see that the disk usage error is fixed after doing so, it may be time to switch the program you use.
Solution 9: Check for Physical Errors
Sometimes it’s not software causing the hardware issue, and maybe you dropped or bumped your laptop, or perhaps it’s just old. In either case, a damaged disk can cause the 100% usage error.
You can use windows to check the physical health of a disk by using DSKCHK. All you have to do to check a disk is:
- Navigate to This PC
- Right-click on the hard drive causing the problem
- Click Properties
- Then click Tools and Check
The system will then check your hard drive for you. Sometimes it can take a while, but at least you can rule out physical issues without having to open up your computer.
Solution 10: Conduct a Virtual Memory Reset
Windows 10 sometimes uses the storage on your disk as though it were RAM to swap out temporary files when your physical ram is running low.
When your system does this, it creates a pagefile.sys file that can cause the 100% disk usage error when corrupted. To fix this error, you can reset the virtual memory. To do so, use these steps:
- Type advanced system settings into the search box on your taskbar.
- Click and open View advanced system settings.
- Click on Settings.
- Click the Advanced tab, then Change.
- Uncheck the box that says Automatically manage paging file size.
- Check the No paging file marker.
- Press OK, then Reboot your computer.
Solution 11: Turn of Extensions in Your Browser
It’s pretty well known that Google Chrome and its extensions can chew up your RAM. But did you know that it can sometimes cause issues with your hard disk too?
Turning off any chrome extensions that have access to your hard drive can sometimes be the answer to your 100% disk usage woes. Or you could even use a different browser.
Solution 12: Uninstall Adobe Flash Player
Since the 90s, Flash Player by Adobe had been one of the most used web applications. It was responsible for animation, interactivity, audio, and video. But they stopped updating the software in late 2020, which made it redundant in all but a few cases.
Windows 10 has Flash Player preinstalled on it, but since Adobe no longer supports the software, they recommend uninstalling it. So, even if you found a different solution to your disk issue, you could still perform this process:
- Click this link to the Adobe Flash Uninstaller and download it
- Run the software
- Click uninstall
- Restart your computer
Solution 11: Restart Your Computer With a Clean Boot
When you initiate a clean boot, Windows 10 will restart with fewer startup programs and drivers. Then you can selectively reinstall third-party programs one at a time to identify which program is causing the disk problem.
This option is one of the best to allow you to single out a cause. But, it can also take a long time to reinstall each program one by one and wait a while to see if they were the cause of the disk error.
The following steps will show you how to restart with a clean boot:
- Type MSConfig into the search box in your taskbar
- Open System Configuration
- Under the General tab check the selective startup option
- Check Load system services
- Uncheck Load startup items
- Keep Use original boot configuration checked
- Click the Services tab
- Check the Hide all Microsoft services box
- Click Disable all
- Click Apply or OK
- Reboot your computer
- (Optional) Follow steps 1-9, then check one program at a time to add back in and reboot to see if it’s the one causing the 100% disk error.
Solution 12: Upgrade Your Hardware
It’s possible that, even after a disk check, the drive itself is still to blame for the Windows 10 100% disk usage issue. Hard Disk Drives (HDD) have a limited lifespan as the spinning parts wear away with friction over time.
So, it may be time to replace the disk.
If you’re using an old spinning disk drive, you’ll thank yourself for the upgraded speeds by switching to a Solid State Drive (SSD). These drives are much faster and more reliable than traditional HDDs, and many manufacturers make models designed to fit into older computers.
Since they’re not a new technology anymore, SSDs don’t cost that much more than an HDD, so if you need to replace the disk anyway, you might as well splash out on an SSD.
Warning: Don’t Try These Methods
While there are a lot of potential functional fixes for the Windows 10 100% disk error, there are also some that could work in the short term but risk causing more damage to your PC over time.
Disabling Windows Updates
It is very easy to see instances of planned obsolescence in the world of tech, and software updates can sometimes be the catalyst for this. It’s still a bad idea to disable windows updates.
As we mentioned earlier, updates to Windows 10 have solved the 100% disk usage error in the past.
Indeed, operating system updates can sometimes come with issues of their own, but it’s in the software companies’ best interest to fix those problems as soon as possible.
BITS is another update service for Windows 10 that creates new system parameters to coincide with Windows updates. Turning this service off could result in mismatched software patches, which will cause further problems for your PC.
Manually Modifying Page Files
While we recommended rebooting your pagefile.sys in the virtual memory reset solution (solution 10), manually editing the file with custom values could further damage your disk.
It’s best to let Windows manage your virtual memory when possible so as not to cause any long-term issues.
Which Solution to the 100% Disk Error in Windows 10 Should I Use?
As the root cause of the Windows 10 100% disk usage problem is hard to nail down, it’s impossible to say which solution could be the most appropriate. Although the order in which you could test the solutions out could be:
- Complete a hard restart of your computer
- Check windows is up to date
- Check for any viruses and malware
- Check for physical faults with the drive
From there, it’s kind of an educated guess-type affair. You’ll have to think of the potential cause and pick a solution from the list that you think will be most effective.
Hopefully, one of the first methods for fixing the issue will work. You could even just consider upgrading your components as the first option if your budget allows for it. The improved speeds offered by a solid-state drive are worth their cost anyway.
Once your computer is back online, its productivity will increase 100 fold. Check out some of our other articles so your personal productivity can accelerate to match like using remote work communication tools, or sharing a Google Calendar.