Find Free Software to Log Disk Usage & Monitor Processes

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In summary, the individual is experiencing issues with high disk usage on their laptop, causing slow performance and unresponsive programs. They have noticed this issue for a while and have attempted to diagnose and solve it without success. They have also noticed that Windows will sometimes go into a mode without their request and they suspect it may be related to driver or RAM issues. They have checked their hard drive health and it appears to be fine, but they believe the constant high disk usage may be damaging it. The individual suggests reinstalling Windows on a new SSD and avoiding HP devices in the future. They also mention the possibility of bloatware and indexing causing the high disk usage.
  • #1
StevieTNZ
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I'm after a piece of (preferably free) software, or even a built in Windows 11 Home tool, that will log disk usage throughout the day, and what processes and application are using the disk, when, and by how much.

For far too long now, I notice my laptop get into a frenzy of being at 100% disk usage (when checking task manager), sometimes slowing the entire laptop down. For far too long also have tasks such as opening Word taken excessively long. Opening a new tab in Firefox sometimes causes disk usage to get high; trying to open a website and Outlook simultaneously automatically sending/receiving will cause slowness. Sometimes just opening Outlook after receiving an email can cause Outlook to not respond for a few minutes and I check the disk usage light on the side of my laptop and its there, without flickering indicating a reduction in disk usage activity. Windows Media Player is now known to often take ages to start to play a song (mainly the first in the morning). It doesn't help when it wants to 'update media library' with the file path being Documents. I have no clue how to make it only update media library for the music and videos folders, not everytime I save a .txt file via a folder in Documents.

I also notice if things aren't responding and there is high disk usage, Windows will sometimes go into some mode (I can't remember now - assist mode?) which I haven't requested it to go into, and it won't stay in that mode for long (next to the date and time a half moon icon will appear and then disappear). What's also annoying is Ctrl Alt Del -> Task Manager will show Systems Interrupts at some excessive CPU usage, which I've Googled and appears to be driver related or could be faulty RAM. It'll be non-responding for maybe a minute, then the tasks using my disk will appear (before it would simply say 0% disk usage, and the whole window looks like its frozen and not updating the relevant figures).

I did a HDD health check with CrystalDiskInfo months ago and it seemed fine. The constant 100% disk usage can't be too good for the hard drive. It is an HP laptop and simply after my experience with this laptop, only having had it send by the Hon Reverend Dr Madam Speaker from the US in November 2019 (and also the experiencing I'm having with our HP all in one device), I know not to get another HP device. This laptop will be replaced this year nonetheless.

All I can say is sometimes technology causes unnecessary stress.

EDIT: I've just run CrystalDiskInfo and the status of my Toshiba HDD in a HP laptop is 'Good'.
 
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  • #2
For the record, since before 6pm until current (6:53pm), the disk has been at 100% usage. It is a complete nightmare trying to get anything done.
 
  • #3
Rather than an attempt at diagnosis, I suggest you go straight to the cure which is almost certainly to be reinstalling Windows, preferably on a new SSD and avoiding the HP crap (i.e. install from a downloaded generic Microsoft version, not by any "restore to factory settings"). A decent 2019 machine should have a couple more years left in it.
 
  • #4
Windows performs scans in the background for malware daily. If your laptop is an older model it could be that the disk is just too slow to keep up with the modern operating system, I see this fairly frequently with older laptops. The problem is worse for "occasional" users as these processes kick off when windows starts if they are scheduled to. I tend to advise that users leave computers on without being used for an hour each week to allow these scans to run so they don't run when you need the laptop to be working normally.

Under the Processes tab in Task Manager it should show you what process is using the disk currently. Laptops also tend to come with lots of "Bloatware," extra software installed by the manufacturer that no one cares for or uses, a removal of unused software can help in these cases.

Task Manager should tell you what is using the disk in the Processes tab so it's the best place to check when your having issues and you can google any results to see what that process does.
 
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  • #5
If your computer has Windows 11, then it is fairly new. I would copy important data off of the hard drive immediately to an SSD. (But reasonably new laptops usually have an SSD, not an HDD) Your hard drive might be failing. You do not say how much of your hard drive is legitimately used. I hope it is not really 0% or 100%. Also, how much of your RAM is used? When RAM is fully used (e.g. by opening many Firefox tabs) it can cause problems. If so, you should increase your RAM or reduce your RAM usage.
 
  • #6
I know that for my older work PCs, "indexing" was a big hog of HDD useage. I've disabled indexing on my last couple work PCs, but my latest Win10 laptops don't seem to have a problem with it.

Maybe check your "Indexing Options" to see how many folders are being indexed and how often. You might try disabling it altogether for a while to see if that stops the constant HDD activity...
 
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  • #7
I don't think there is any reason to log usage for a length of time. When you have the problem with 100% usage, that should be the time to find out what is happening.
 
  • #8
FactChecker said:
If your computer has Windows 11, then it is fairly new.
It came with Windows 10, which was updated to Win 11 when released. The checker tool told me my laptop met Window 11 hardware requirements. I've only had this laptop since November 2019. But as I've said, there is intention to replace it in a few months with something better (and that has a SSD).
 
  • #9
berkeman said:
I know that for my older work PCs, "indexing" was a big hog of HDD useage. I've disabled indexing on my last couple work PCs, but my latest Win10 laptops don't seem to have a problem with it.

Maybe check your "Indexing Options" to see how many folders are being indexed and how often. You might try disabling it altogether for a while to see if that stops the constant HDD activity...
Thanks, will look into this.
 
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  • #10
pbuk said:
A decent 2019 machine should have a couple more years left in it.
I agree.
 
  • #11
StevieTNZ said:
It came with Windows 10, which was updated to Win 11 when released. The checker tool told me my laptop met Window 11 hardware requirements. I've only had this laptop since November 2019. But as I've said, there is intention to replace it in a few months with something better (and that has a SSD).
I really should have said that if it CAN upgrade to Windows 11, then it is fairly new. That being said, since you have a hard drive, I would copy any important data to an external drive (preferably SSD) ASAP! It sounds like your drive might be failing and you might lose any data on it.

PS. If you routinely do backups, that should make you fairly safe if your hard drive does fail.
 
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  • #12
FactChecker said:
I really should have said that if it CAN upgrade to Windows 11, then it is fairly new. That being said, since you have a hard drive, I would copy any important data to an external drive (preferably SSD) ASAP! It sounds like your drive might be failing and you might lose any data on it.

PS. If you routinely do backups, that should make you fairly safe if your hard drive does fail.
I have Code42 CrashPlan running backups every so often each day, to cloud storage.
 
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  • #13
FactChecker said:
It sounds like your drive might be failing and you might lose any data on it.
Sounds more to me like there is something running in the background that isn't working properly...

StevieTNZ said:
I have Code42 CrashPlan running backups every so often each day, to cloud storage.
... and that's a likely candidate. Is it trying to back up something that is changing frequently like a cache or log file? I stopped using stand-alone backup software years ago: data is all backed up on OneDrive which for obvious reasons plays nicely with Windows.
 
  • #14
pbuk said:
Sounds more to me like there is something running in the background that isn't working properly...
That could be. But I tend to worry more about the most catastrophic possibilities. But he is running backups regularly, so he should be in good shape regarding hard drive failures.
pbuk said:
... and that's a likely candidate. Is it trying to back up something that is changing frequently like a cache or log file? I stopped using stand-alone backup software years ago: data is all backed up on OneDrive which for obvious reasons plays nicely with Windows.
To me, the symptoms sound a lot like there is not enough RAM. The symptom that opening another tab in Firefox causes things to slow down is what happens when RAM utilization is too high. But I can not get an answer about how much RAM he has.
 
  • #15
pbuk said:
... and that's a likely candidate. Is it trying to back up something that is changing frequently like a cache or log file?
It could be Code42. I'll need to investigate further.
 
  • #16
FactChecker said:
To me, the symptoms sound a lot like there is not enough RAM.
8GB RAM should suffice. The laptop I intend on getting will have 16GB.
 
  • #17
StevieTNZ said:
It could be Code42. I'll need to investigate further.
I believe that Code42 was written by @fresh_42 as a high school project, so you might ping him. Or, I may be confusing things in PF history...
 
  • #18
StevieTNZ said:
8GB RAM should suffice. The laptop I intend on getting will have 16GB.
IMO, 8 GB ram is too small. I had to increase mine from 12 GB because opening a few tabs in Firefox and running other applications would cause problems. 16 GB would have worked, but I upped it to 32 and it regularly uses more than 16. I think that something has a memory leak.
 
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  • #19
FactChecker said:
IMO, 8 GB ram is too small. I had to increase mine from 12 GB because opening a few tabs in Firefox and running other applications would cause problems. 16 GB would have worked, but I upped it to 32 and it regularly uses more than 16. I think that something has a memory leak.
The odd thing is in task manager, RAM usage isn't that high.

Oh computers, you stressful things...

EDIT: just checked Task Manager. its at 78/79% usage.
 
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  • #20
My old High School IT teacher, who I sent an email to with a link to this thread, has just replied to my email:

Hi Stevie

Your problem is very similar to one I had; my solution was to buy a new laptop and the problem went away (seriously). Like you I had tried to find solutions and found system interrupts were absorbing a huge amount of processor and disk resources. The purchase of a laptop coincided with a Windows update and I've not experienced the problem since.

Sorry but this is not very helpful for your situation.

John
 
  • #21
berkeman said:
I believe that Code42 was written by @fresh_42 as a high school project, so you might ping him. Or, I may be confusing things in PF history...
This? https://www.crashplan.com/en-us/
 
  • #22
StevieTNZ said:
EDIT: just checked Task Manager. its at 78/79% usage.
And when you sorted the Task Manager columns on Disk Useage during this, what did you see?

1653092156136.png
 
  • #23
I am more suspicious of the memory usage by Firefox. Here is my current usage with just one Firefox window and 6 tabs open. That alone totals more than 4.5 GB. I don't know what is going on with it.
1653096224288.png
 
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  • #24
Sorry, Mike, I didn't catch that detail when I saw 78% RAM usage.

@FactChecker - I notice Firefox does open a lot of 'windows' (15 in your pic) despite one window being open with maybe two tabs (mine is currently at Firefox(7) and that's with two tabs open). I don't know why. It certainly does hog limited resources.

I also notice whenever Firefox updates, it takes some time to reload websites after the software has restarted and updated. Or that could be because I'm suffering other issues.
 
  • #25
That 78% memory usage has never been very compatible with Windows usability. Cut back on the number of things you try to do at once, or get more memory!

Your system symptoms sound similar to the problem I had way back on Win XP!

I traced it down to a few things
  1. One was the indexing that was mentioned earlier by @berkeman. I turned it off and started using a standalone program called Agent Ransack that searches the disk on demand, that way it isn't stealing CPU and disk time when you are trying to accomplish something. The drawback is that searching a couple terabytes of disk for a text string can take around an hour; slowing down, but not stopping user response time.
  2. Another was a somewhat small amount of memory combined with the Windows Swap File (virtual memory) being way to small. The user interface for the swap file limits its size to some rediculously small size. I had to edit the Registry entry to enlarge the file size limit. This was the major, most effective, fix.
  3. A few times the problem was traced to a failing Hard Disk. If that IS your problem, be aware that it often presents as intermittent and steadily gets worse -- then suddenly enters a catastrophic 'Don't Work at All' condition.

Cheers,
Tom

p.s. Please keep us updated on you progress (or lack thereof :wink:).
 
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  • #26
Tom.G said:
Cut back on the number of things you try to do at once, or get more memory!
I think cutting back on things I do at once will cause me do do one thing at a time. I'm not doing an awful lot at the same time; the fact the laptop can't handle three or four tasks at once makes me wonder how fit for purpose HP make their laptops. My half-brother got a custom built desktop before I got this laptop and its faster, and still is, than this laptop. It doesn't make him wait a minute or more for Word or Excel to open at times, for example. Endlessly I'm waiting for things to load - I'm trying to get stuff done. I can't be waiting minutes on end for things to open.

Replacing the laptop seems like a reasonable option at this point.
 
  • #27
You can try other browsers rather than Firefox, which I think has a memory leak. You should also look at the startup programs and see if there are a lot of programs that Windows is bringing up automatically that you don't need running. I don't have Windows 11, so I don't know what it is like, memory usage-wise.
 
  • #28
StevieTNZ said:
the fact the laptop can't handle three or four tasks at once makes me wonder how fit for purpose HP make their laptops
I'm not sure you can blame HP for those issues. I've had a Win10 HP laptop as my home/work PC for several years now, and it works great. Certainly no delay issues like you are seeing.
 
  • #29
Another item I forgot to mention about slowing down:

Anti-virus software generally does periodic full scans of every executable program on every disk drive looking for viruses. Many (most?, all?) do not nicely share CPU or disk time with the user, they seem to think that THEY are the most important thing to run.

If you have an anti-virus program installed, you might try turning it off as a test to see if things improve. If the machine is then usable, consider using a different anti-virus.

Cheers,
Tom
 
  • #30
What you need to do when disk usage is high is to open the disk tab in the "Resource Monitor". It can tell you which process is reading which files but you might have to play around with the sorting of the columns to get the data you need presented in a useful way. The "Total (B/sec)" column is often useful.

You can open the "Resource Monitor" from the Performance tab in the Activity Monitor (or just search for it).
 
  • #31
:wink:. . . .

1653304567452.png


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Related to Find Free Software to Log Disk Usage & Monitor Processes

1. What is disk usage and why is it important to monitor?

Disk usage refers to the amount of storage space being used on a computer's hard drive. It is important to monitor because a high disk usage can slow down the computer's performance, potentially leading to crashes or data loss.

2. How can I find free software to log disk usage and monitor processes?

There are many websites and online directories that offer free software for disk usage and process monitoring. Some popular options include SourceForge, Softpedia, and CNET. You can also search for specific software on search engines like Google or Bing.

3. What features should I look for in disk usage and process monitoring software?

Some important features to look for include real-time monitoring, customizable alerts, and the ability to view historical data. It is also helpful to have a user-friendly interface and the option to export data for further analysis.

4. Can I use free software to log disk usage and monitor processes on multiple devices?

This depends on the specific software you choose. Some free software may have limitations on the number of devices it can be used on, while others may offer unlimited use. It is important to read the software's terms and conditions before downloading.

5. Are there any risks associated with using free software for disk usage and process monitoring?

As with any software, there is always a risk of malware or viruses when downloading from unknown sources. It is important to do thorough research and only download from reputable websites to minimize these risks. Additionally, some free software may have limited features compared to paid options.

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