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Disk Activity Going Crazy in Windows 10

What you can do to solve a problem with high disk use in Windows 10

Edited: 2016-10-18 12:13

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Some people are experiencing high disk use problems in Windows 10. The problems are not necessarily limited to Windows 10, and can also happen in other Windows versions, such as Windows 8.1, or even Windows 7.

You might notice the problem when hearing a "laud" noise coming from your hard disk, as if the disk is working intensely, and it never really seem to finish. You may be more likely to notice the sound on a laptop, because the case on large desktop computers typically isolates somewhat against noise from fans, and other components.

Besides the noise just being generally distracting and annoying, high disk use can also sometimes slow down your system, especially if you do not have much RAM.

If you pay attention to your system monitor, then you might notice when your system runs out of memory. I.e. having multiple browser tabs open can use a lot of memory, and music streaming services, such as Spotify, also take a good chunk of memory. A computer with just 4GB of RAM might be enough for simple usage, but depending on which apps you are running, it could quickly run out, so you really want more RAM.

Causes of high disk use

There are actually a number of causes for high disk use in Windows, and on some systems there might even be multiple active ones, creating a type of "cocktail affect" which just makes the problem even worse, and harder to track down.

  1. Lack of Physical memory. If you run out of RAM, the system is going to use the swap file a lot more, and this causes high disk activity, and unnecessary wear and tear on your hard disk. It also tends to slow down your system.
  2. File hosting services, such as DropBox, might be trying to sync files, or check for changes. Also, if you both run Windows and Linux, problems with file permissions could possibly cause continuous disk activity.
  3. Windows Search is a service running in the background, which is known to cause high disk activity. The service is needed to index files for search, so if you are not using search, it should be fine to simply disable this.
  4. SuperFetch is a service intended to speed up how fast applications launch. However, it is known to cause high disk use, and the speed in app launch is often not enough to really mean anything to the user. So, if you do not care about how fast apps are launching, it should also be safe to disable this.
  5. Windows Update sometimes causes high disk use while installing updates, and even for a short while after having installed the updates.
  6. P2P in windows update may sometimes cause disk activity, and even steal your internet bandwidth. This feature allows Microsoft to use your bandwidth to distribute updates to other computers via P2P. You can safely disable this malicious feature.
  7. Windows defender can cause high disk use when updating, and sometimes while performing background scans.

It should be noted that a little disk activity is normal, and should not effect performance in any way.

If the activity often goes up for no apparent reason, try shutting down any non-windows apps and services, to narrow down the possible sources for the activity.

You can run Resource Monitor from the performance tab in Task Manager to monitor the activity.

P2P in Windows Update

The P2P feature in Windows Update can easily be disabled, but it is sadly turned on by default, which means that Windows might sometime use your bandwidth. People with slow DSL connections, or who are sharing their connection could in theory be greatly affected by these P2P uploads.

To disable P2P do the following:

  1. Open Windows Update
  2. Go to Advanced options
  3. Go to Choose how updates are delivered

Then make a decision on how you want your updates delivered. The PCs on my own local network option might help speed up the updateing process, without affecting your upload speed.