Display the disk activity of any process in Windows

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 26, 2016
Updated • Sep 27, 2016

The following guide describes how you can look up the disk reads and writes of any process on a computer running Microsoft Windows.

It is probably a good idea to answer why someone would want information about disk read and write activity of processes first.

There are a couple of reasons. First, if you run a Solid State Drive, especially an early generation one, you may want to make sure that processes are not taxing the drive too much.

Another reason may be that you need to find out which process is responsible for lots of disk activity. Maybe because you can hear your drive thrashing around all the time, or because you notice slow downs when using the computer.

Note: A core difference between using the Task Manager and Process Explorer is that the Task Manager displays session information while Process Explorer information from the moment it is started.

Disk Activity in the Windows Task Manager

disk activity windows task manager

The Windows Task Manager does not reveal many information in regards to disk activity by default.

While that is the case, it ships with options to enable per-session listings for disk activity.

  1. Use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-Esc to open the Task Manager.
  2. If you use Windows 8 or newer, select "more details" if you get the "useless" basic listing of programs that are running, and switch to Details afterwards.
  3. On Windows 8 or newer: Right-click on a column header, e.g. name and select "select columns" to add or remove columns from the table.
  4. On Windows 7 or older: Select View > Select Columns.
  5. Scroll down in the window that opens and check I/O read bytes and I/O write bytes.
  6. Click ok to close the window again.

io read write

The Windows Task Manager lists the two bits of information as columns afterwards. You can click on the column header to sort by lowest or highest read or write activity on the computer.

Please note that the activity is listed in bytes. If you need help converting, check out this handy tool which does that for you.

I/O write bytes is the important stat if you want to find out which programs tax a Solid State Drive the most.

Using Process Explorer

process explorer read writes

You may use the excellent program Process Explorer instead to display disk activity of processes on Windows machines.

Process Explorer does not display the information either by default, but you may enable the data columns in the program to display them.

  1. Start Process Explorer. The program is portable, you can run it from any location on your system.
  2. Select View > Select Columns from the main menu.
  3. Switch to the Process Disk tab.
  4. Enable Read Bytes and Write Bytes by checking the options.
  5. Click on ok to complete the process.

process explorer columns

A click on a column header sorts the table accordingly so that the processes with the most bytes written or read during that session are listed at the top of the table.

The new columns are added to the right side of the table. This means that you may need to scroll to the right to see them depending on the size of the Process Explorer window.

Process Explorer displays disk activity from the moment it is started.

Now You: Do you monitor disk activity on your machines?

Display the disk activity of any process in Windows
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Display the disk activity of any process in Windows
The following guide describes how you can look up the disk reads and writes of any process on a computer running Microsoft Windows.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):


  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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