Is Windows 10 impossibly slow? Is your Task Manager reporting 100% disk usage? Then your hard drive is likely running at full capacity. 100% disk usage strains hard drives and slows down your system. Read on to learn about high disk usage and how to relieve overworked disks, or streamline the process with Cleanup.

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What is disk usage?

Disk usage is the percentage of your hard disk currently being used by your computer to run programs and carry out tasks. Disk usage relates more to the performance of your hard disk rather than its storage capacity.

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High disk usage in Windows 10 can overwork your hard disk and lead to slow performance speeds, system crashes, and unresponsive systems. Many of the causes of high disk usage may have nothing to do with your computing habits at all. High or 100% disk usage can even occur on new devices.

Note that disk usage shouldn’t be confused with disk storage, which is the total amount of storage space on your hard disk.

If you find your disk is always at 100% disk usage, the first step is to identify what’s causing the issue — a cleanup or optimization tool can help. From there, you can directly address the issue and get back to a faster PC.

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Windows 10 high disk usage: what’s causing it?

To know what’s causing 100% disk usage, you need to figure out what’s making your hard disk work so hard. Here’s how to analyze your hard drive and see what’s causing high disk usage in Windows 10:

Open the Windows 10 Task Manager by right-clicking on the task bar and selecting Task Manager. (Or use the keyboard shortcut: Ctrl + Shift + Esc.)


Click the Disk column in the processes tab to review all currently running processes. If the arrow at the top of the column is pointed downwards, the programs with the highest disk usage will appear first.


If there are bright orange boxes in the Disk column, that means disk usage is high. Generally, any disk usage that exceeds 1 to 2 megabytes per second (MB/s) on individual processes is suspicious.

It’s common for your disk usage percentage to periodically spike to 100% for a few seconds, but it should quickly come back down to under 20%. If you’re constantly experiencing numbers close to 100% disk usage in Windows 10, there’s likely a problem you need to address.

High disk usage is often only one aspect of a larger issue causing a slow system. A comprehensive cleanup tool like Cleanup can automatically check, fix, and prevent hard disk errors — as well as clean out your browser, manage your apps, and much more.