My Windows environment (main development machine) is running a bit slow with operations involving the hard disk. As an indication, the HD light is constantly flashing and e.g. saving and loading big files is really slow.

I'd like to know if there is a method for monitoring which programs/processes actually use disk I/O and to what extent and, if possible, with which disk.

3 Answers 3


I would recommend Process Explorer. It is replacement for Task Manager and among many features it has tracking of IO statistics. That should enable you to find which program is problem.

Once you know which program is to blame and if you need more detail, you can track which exact files are problem via Process Monitor (filtered to exact program since otherwise there will be too much data).

  • I'll try with ProcExplorer as it's already installed. Any pointers where to find disk I/O in it?
    – Jawa
    Aug 18, 2010 at 8:07
  • Ok, found it. Under Select columns... | Process Performance. (If that's the best way?)
    – Jawa
    Aug 18, 2010 at 8:09
  • @Jawa: Right-click on columns and use "Select columns" menu. There you will get bunch of properties to chose from. I would recommend "I/O history" as starting point (under "Process Performance" tab). That should give you nice graph. Aug 18, 2010 at 8:11
  • @Jawa: That is the way. :) Aug 18, 2010 at 8:12
  • Process Explorer is excellent. Anybody else reading this - if you're looking for more power than even Process Explorer, and you're under something newer than Windows XP, you should look into XPerf.
    – Shinrai
    Aug 18, 2010 at 14:31

The Windows' Performance Monitor seems to do fit the bill. The program can be started from Control Panel | Administrative Tools | Performance or by running %SystemRoot%\system32\perfmon.msc /s. It probably needs elevated user rights to operate properly, as it's location suggests.

Within the Performance tool you can set various criteria to monitor, including relative, average or absolute disk read/write times, data amounts, queue lengths and a lot more - as totals or per selected logical disk.

  • Ok, this doesn't separate operations by process.
    – Jawa
    Aug 18, 2010 at 8:01

I'd suggest Precoess Explorer as well but Windows task manager can give you this information. If you switch to the processes tab, you can choose additional stuff to view from the "View" menu.

(On Windows 7 at least - I haven't access to an XP machine at the moment) The additional information to view includes I/O reads and writes, both by number of reads/ writes and number of bytes.

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