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100% Disk Utilization in Win8 - System Freeze

    Question

  • I installed Windows 8 over the last weekend. Things were working fine for the first five days. Just day before i started seeing apps being unresponsive and noticed that the Task Manager showed 100% disk usage. The process taking the most disk is 'System'

    Yesterday things became worse; the startup started taking way too long; after starting up launching any app takes up to 10 mins and the HDD led is constantly on; making the system completely unstable and stuck. I checked in the BIOS that the SATA mode is AHCI and no unknown programs are present in the startup. Indexing is not running and there is no virus problem. No specific program causes this freeze.

    I have the following conf: Dell Inspiron 14R N010, Core i3 (1st gen), 4 GB, 500 GB Hdd (45% free), Win 8 Pro

    Guys - please help!!! My system has become completely unusable.
    Thursday, November 08, 2012 5:47 AM

Answers

  • @Andre - After my fresh install, the problem started reoccurring again, this time hogging quite a bit of CPU as well. The root of the problem was nothing except AVG which due to some reason was doing huge disk scans and hogging CPU. My system became completely unusable after which i rebooted into safe mode and then uninstalled AVG. Everything went back to normal and for the past 7 days things are working like a charm! I installed Avast after uninstalling AVG which is much lighter and neater. 

    How i managed to trace??? I was unfortunately unable to do a perf, but while installing softwares after a clean install, I did a staggered install. Starting with the most basic software's and no driver updates. At the last i installed AVG soon after which the problem started and I was able to catch it. (Was a bit scary though to run the system without an AV for a few days though!!!). AVG - hate you!!! Guess these guys have to fix some problem with their software!

    @Junfrared - Sure; please feel free to update the thread with your issue.

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012 7:17 AM

All replies

  • Try run Windows Disk Check and Defragment and also update your Windows.

    Thursday, November 08, 2012 10:57 AM
  • Make a xperf trace to see the cause. Install the WPT (http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/4847.install-the-windows-performance-toolkit-wpt-en-us.aspx), open a CMD prompt with admin rights and run the commands from here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0h-i_EfzadA

    Run it and after you captured enough HDD disk utilization go back to the CMD and press a key to stop capturing. Now compress the XperfSlowIOcir.etl as 7z (LZMA2, ULTRA) to reduce the size. Upload this file to your SkyDrive or Dropbox and post a link here.


    "A programmer is just a tool which converts caffeine into code"

    Thursday, November 08, 2012 11:26 AM
  • Thanks Andre for providing detailed instructions. While I do this I also booted into safe mode and in there the system works absolutely fine. 

    I disabled some services like Windows Media Sharing and Windows Defender (which slightly improved the performance). I will doing the Xperf now.

    Thursday, November 08, 2012 6:50 PM
  • I just had something similar happen to me for the first time. Task Manager showed 100% disk usage on resuming from sleep, but no individual process was reporting more than 0.1 MB/s. I was able to open the Start Screen, but clicking on a program wouldn't open it, and Chrome (already open) was locked up. Eventually I pressed the power button, and instead of going to sleep the system rebooted. Disclaimer, I recently installed Intel's Rapid Storage Technology onto this laptop - could be related?

    Friday, November 09, 2012 4:10 PM
  • Disclaimer, I recently installed Intel's Rapid Storage Technology onto this laptop - could be related?

    maybe. Uninstall it and try the included AHCI driver from Microsooft (StorAHCI)

    "A programmer is just a tool which converts caffeine into code"

    Friday, November 09, 2012 4:14 PM
  • @Andre - I tried many times to start an xperf but the system had become very sluggish (to the extent where task manager, explorer and cmd refused to run) with a continuous 100% disk utilization. And I could never get xperf running. Interestingly right from the time of windows boot there was a constant 100% peak even if no application was opened with 'System' process->ntoskrnl sucking up everything. Another interesting observation was that in the safe mode even with lot of applications and internet apps running the utilization was extremely low and the system ran just fine. 

    Due to all this pain, i somehow managed a quick backup in safe mode and then did a fresh install of the Win8 using the USB. Today is the second day and after installing most major software's things look extremely stable (fingers crossed!) Not sure what was the problem and what caused it to happen. Couldnt be the hardware nor i guess the drivers (else the same problem would recur). Any suggestions on what i SHOULD NOT do to ensure the system runs this smooth?

    Thanks again for all the guidance & help!

    Thursday, November 15, 2012 6:51 AM
  • copy this into a txt file and rename it as CMD:

    @echo off

    xperf -on PROC_THREAD+LOADER+CSWITCH+FILENAME+FILE_IO+FILE_IO_INIT+DRIVERS -f kernel.etl -stackwalk CSwitch+DiskReadInit+DiskWriteInit+DiskFlushInit+FileCreate+FileCleanup+FileClose+FileRead+FileWrite -BufferSize 1024 -MaxBuffers 1024 -MaxFile 1024 -FileMode Circular

    echo Reproduce the problem now, hit any key to finish, collect Merged Etl file

    pause

    echo merging etl...

    xperf -d XperfSlowIOcir.etl

    @echo on

    @echo off
    
    xperf -on PROC_THREAD+LOADER+CSWITCH+FILENAME+FILE_IO+FILE_IO_INIT+DRIVERS -f kernel.etl -stackwalk CSwitch+DiskReadInit+DiskWriteInit+DiskFlushInit+FileCreate+FileCleanup+FileClose+FileRead+FileWrite -BufferSize 1024 -MaxBuffers 1024 -MaxFile 1024 -FileMode Circular
    
    echo Reproduce the problem now, hit any key to finish, collect Merged Etl file
    
    pause
    
    echo merging etl... 
    
    xperf -d XperfSlowIOcir.etl
    
    @echo on
    
    

    run it when you DON't have the issue and minimize the CMD window. When you get the issue, go back to CMD wait a few seconds and press a key

    to stop the logging. The script limits the file size to 1GB. compress the file as 7z to reduce the size.


    "A programmer is just a tool which converts caffeine into code"

    Thursday, November 15, 2012 8:21 PM
  • I also have relatively same issue, can I post my data using same procedure? Or should I start a new thread?
    Sunday, November 18, 2012 4:53 PM
  • For those that installed Intel RST driver first thing to do is to make sure you uninstall any Intel RST (Rapid Storage Technology) driver which would also require manually changing/uninstalling driver through device manager after application's own uninstall.

    The reason is that service and manager get uninstalled but not the driver itself, that is why you must go manually after uninstall to device manager -> storage controllers and manually click on "update driver" for Intel RST driver then click on "browse my computer for driver software" then "let me pick from a list..." then make sure "show compatible hardware" is checked and select Microsoft's own driver - in my case it was "Intel(R) ICH8R/ICH9R/ICH10R/DO SATA RAID Controller". After installation and restart system should stop using 100% disk utilization.

    It seems Intel has made a major screwup for older chipsets and windows 8 (my chipset is x58 with ICH10R) which even though decoratively is supported by Intel it simply makes system disk read/write non stop making system unusable. I have tried all new RST drivers up to 11.6.2.xxxx and they all had this bug for me. So for now I'm running on Windows 8 included Intel driver 8.6.2.1022 which works.

    Sunday, November 18, 2012 5:56 PM
  • @Andre - After my fresh install, the problem started reoccurring again, this time hogging quite a bit of CPU as well. The root of the problem was nothing except AVG which due to some reason was doing huge disk scans and hogging CPU. My system became completely unusable after which i rebooted into safe mode and then uninstalled AVG. Everything went back to normal and for the past 7 days things are working like a charm! I installed Avast after uninstalling AVG which is much lighter and neater. 

    How i managed to trace??? I was unfortunately unable to do a perf, but while installing softwares after a clean install, I did a staggered install. Starting with the most basic software's and no driver updates. At the last i installed AVG soon after which the problem started and I was able to catch it. (Was a bit scary though to run the system without an AV for a few days though!!!). AVG - hate you!!! Guess these guys have to fix some problem with their software!

    @Junfrared - Sure; please feel free to update the thread with your issue.

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012 7:17 AM
  • The root of the problem was nothing except AVG which due to some reason was doing huge disk scans and hogging CPU. My system became completely unusable after which i rebooted into safe mode and then uninstalled AVG. Everything went back to normal and for the past 7 days things are working like a charm!

    ok, thanks for the feedback.

    "A programmer is just a tool which converts caffeine into code"

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012 11:18 AM
  • Disabling "write caching" on my SSD worked.

    You can find it by:

    right-click on the disk drive-> properties -> hardware tab -> highlight disk -> properties button -> general tab -> Change settings button -> Policies tab

    - Fresh install of Windows 8

    - Acer Aspire 5750G

    - Kingston SV100S2256G SSD 

    - Kaspersky Internet Security 2013


    • Edited by Johann Korf Tuesday, May 28, 2013 1:26 PM
    • Proposed as answer by Johann Korf Tuesday, May 28, 2013 1:26 PM
    Tuesday, May 28, 2013 1:15 PM
  • I'm having the this issue.  Typically, it seems like disk hits 100% when I access something related to windows.  If I manage to get into a game, for instance, the issue usually doesn't happen.  Sometimes does, but usually doesn't.  When booting up though, when I get to my desktop it almost always happens for approximately 3-15mins, and then "randomly" through normal usage.  If I get into the (godforsaken) win 8 start menu, it usually happens.

    Link for that thing I can't believe I managed to make.

    https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=924146436A1286D6!223

    Tuesday, June 18, 2013 5:44 AM
  • I'm having the this issue.  Typically, it seems like disk hits 100% when I access something related to windows.  If I manage to get into a game, for instance, the issue usually doesn't happen.  Sometimes does, but usually doesn't.  When booting up though, when I get to my desktop it almost always happens for approximately 3-15mins, and then "randomly" through normal usage.  If I get into the (godforsaken) win 8 start menu, it usually happens.

    Link for that thing I can't believe I managed to make.

    https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=924146436A1286D6!223

    run the trace again with this flag (DISK_IO) also included:

    xperf -on PROC_THREAD+LOADER+CSWITCH+FILENAME+FILE_IO+FILE_IO_INIT+DRIVERS+DISK_IO -f kernel.etl -stackwalk CSwitch+DiskReadInit+DiskWriteInit+DiskFlushInit+FileCreate+FileCleanup+FileClose+FileRead+FileWrite -BufferSize 1024 -MaxBuffers 1024 -MaxFile 1024 -FileMode Circular

    I need to know if file_IO also causes DISK_IO.


    "A programmer is just a tool which converts caffeine into code"

    Tuesday, June 18, 2013 8:52 AM
  • well, the problem eased for a while.  i didn't realize you'd responded to me either.  i'm in the process of defragging, when it's done i'll run the trace again and get you the link.

    i've disabled superfetch, indexing, rst (and deleted the drivers manually), cleaned out all old drivers, used windows 8 pc refresh, and several other potential fixes that i've read about.  it really seems to me that the issue is the system process (ntoskrnl).  you are a fantastic person for all this help you've given everyone.

    file link forthcoming

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013 3:53 AM
  • make a new xperf trace.

    "A programmer is just a tool which converts caffeine into code"

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013 4:45 AM
  • I  had the same issue, and here is how I resolved it.

    The task manager shows that "System" is taking upto 98% disk I/O activities, so I checked the default setting of Virtual Memory, it was set to auto manage with a value of 780MB. This setting is way to small for a 4GB memory. The recommendation from Microsoft is to set virtual memory  the same as the ram. So I set the virtual memory to manual manage, and range from 4048MB to 8096MB.

    This solved the issue, the disk I/O is lowered from 100% to 0.1%.

    Here is the detailed instruction:

    1. Go to Control Panel> All control panel items > System
    2. Click on Advanced system settings
    3. Under performance, click on settings
    4. Go to Advanced tab
    5. Under Virtual memory, click on Change
    6. UN-check "Automatically manage paging file size for all drives" check box
    7. Select your windows drive (where OS is installed)
    8. Click on Custom size radio button
    9. Set Initial size equivalent to your RAM size in MB
    10. Set Maximum size to twice of your RAM size in MB
    11. Click on Set
    12. Click on OK thrice
    13. Restart your system

    Hope this will help the others.

    Saturday, September 07, 2013 2:28 AM