Your computer is hanging. Same old Windows, right? Except you’re using a brand new Windows 8.x or Windows 10 device, you’ve only had it a few days. So just what is going on?
Investigating, you discover that your system drive is running at 100%. Surely this can’t be right? Sadly, it is. The latest versions of Windows have a problem with the drives being over worked, which slows down the operating system. This issue affects both hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid state drives (SSDs).
Several fixes are available for this, depending upon what exactly is causing the problem.
Slow Performance? Check Your Disk Usage
This performance issue is most obvious when attempting to use Search (Windows key + Q) to find a file or program, and anything else that requires the drive to do some work (perhaps copying and pasting a group of files).
To establish whether it is a problem that is affecting you, when your computer next slows down press CTRL+ALT+DEL and select Task Manager. (Alternatively, right-click the Taskbar and select Task Manager.) Note that this may take some time to open with the drive being slow.
On the first tab, Processes, look for the Disk column. If you’re having problems with drive performance, this should be at 100%, and colored red to indicate whether you have a problem or not.
Once you’ve found there is a problem, you have several options available.
Check Your Anti-Virus Software
As with any such performance issue, the first thing to do is confirm that your computer hasn’t been infected with malware. Your security software should be able to deal with this, whether it’s a free app or a paid suite. At the very least, tools such as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware should be able to scan your system drive and detect any problems, although with a heavy load on your drive already this may take a while.
If threats are found, use the software’s recommendations to discard them, and reboot, before checking your drive performance further. Hopefully you’ve resolved the issue; if not, then malware wasn’t to blame, so read on.
Disable Windows Search for Improved Disk Performance
The next thing to check is whether the problem is to do with Windows Search. A bug in Windows 8 and 10 results in a sort of “search loop” that results in an increased load on the system drive.
To stop this, and prevent it from happening during your current session (until Windows is rebooted) open the Command Prompt (the quickest way is by right-clicking the Start button and selecting Command Prompt (Admin)) and enter the following:
net.exe stop "Windows search"
To permanently disable Windows Search or Indexing, press Windows + R, enter services.msc, and hit Enter. In the Services window that opens find the Windows Search entry and double-click it to open the Windows Search Properties window. Under Startup type, select Disabled. Here you can click Stop to abort the service. Click OK to save your changes.
You can also control which folders Windows Search indexes, which we’ve demonstrated previously.
A few moments after disabling Windows Search, your Windows 8.x or Windows 10 performance should improve considerably. If not, move on…
Disable Superfetch Service
For some reason, the superfetch service has been identified as a potential cause of these disk performance issues in Windows 8.x and Windows 10. To deal with this, open another Command Prompt (or if you’ve still got the earlier box open, use that) and enter:
net.exe stop superfetch
Again, wait a few moments to check whether this has had any effect on your computer’s performance. You should also run Check Disk in a Command Prompt:
chkdsk.exe /f /r
You’ll be informed that your PC must be rebooted for Check Disk to complete, so make sure you have closed all of your applications first.
If this doesn’t work, it is likely that you’re experiencing an iteration of this issue that is frustrating to realize, but simple to resolve.
Could It Be Flash?
We’ve already discussed at length why Flash should be consigned to history. It is, quite frankly, one of the most vulnerable aspects of modern computing, an attack vector that just keeps on giving. It also seems to be one of the most common culprits for the maxed out, 100% hard disk usage in Windows 10 and the earlier Windows 8.x, if you’re using the Google Chrome browser.
In Chrome, go to the address bar and enter:
A new settings-style screen will display a list of installed plugins. If you have Adobe Flash installed for viewing videos (BBC iPlayer requires Flash on desktop browsers, for instance, as do many other video streaming services, as well as browser games) then you will see it listed as Adobe Flash Player here.
Click the Disable button; the Adobe Flash Player entry will be grayed out. Wait a few moments and then check your Task Manager. Performance issues related to your system drive should be resolved. Try restarting the Chrome Browser if this is still an issue.
Disk Usage Should Rarely Be 100%
Put simply, there is little reason for your disk load to be anything close to 100%, certainly not under normal usage. A slow computer is one with a problem, and if you cannot fix it by disabling a browser plugin, stopping services, or running your anti-virus software, then the problem may well be hardware related.
Perhaps your drive is getting old; it may be defective, or the cables may need replacing. Alternatively, there is a chance that the problem is connected to the Windows defrag tool. If your computer is attempting to defrag your drive, but your HDD is actually an SSD, then serious problems can occur. Deal with this by opening the Task Scheduler (WINDOWS + Q, enter task scheduler) and disable any scheduled disk defrag tasks.
Is the 100% disk usage issue slowing down your Windows 8.x or Windows 10 computer? Have any of these fixes resolved the problem? Tell me in the comments, let’s see if we can get it fixed.