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My 2 week old HP desktop has an issue of sporadic, frequent, and rather annoying '100% disk usage'. It shows in the 'Disk' column (Processes tab) in Task Manager. Needless to say this freezes all the processes in the system as it does my work, too (I'm an accountant).

The PC came with Free DOS 2.0 preloaded. I did a clean install of Windows

8.1, build 9600, installed all recommended updates from Microsoft, updated BIOS through the HP Support website. The issue didn't go away. I then turned off some services (synching with MS Store, One Drive, etc.) - no changes. The strange thing is that at the moment the Task Manager registers the '100% disk usage' point neither the CPU nor Memory usage seem to be overloaded. The freezes do not seem to be related to any specific software (Skype, my accounting software, etc.)

I did 2 complete scans with different anti-virus software. The system is clean.

I wonder if this could be linked to my BIOS settings? I read it somewhere that Windows 8.1 changes the settings in BIOS during installation. Perhaps, I should reset BIOS to Factory Defaults?

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This could be for a good number of reasons. Having had a bit of experience on an old-ish laptop I've downgraded upgraded to Windows 8.1 a while back, I might venture a few guesses:

  1. You're running your antivirus-suite(s) all the time and there is aggressive and frequent monitoring/scanning going on. Especially on machines with larger harddrives (which more and more have these days), antiviruses are as bad a hit to your machine as actual viruses. Only run these occasionally, or when you suspect an infection.

  2. You haven't disabled quite enough services yet. Check out Black Viper's site, or other sites for guidance as to what processes you can live without. Then msconfig them into non-existence (or at least non-load-at-startup...ance).

  3. Relating to 2., HP is actually fairly notorious for pre-installing things you don't need, (which are typically set to start automatically at boot-time). These are often hard to uninstall. Assuming you have your OS license-key, you can now download a plain copy of Windows and create a bootable USB-drive or CD/DVD. If you reformat and wipe things clean this way, that should free you from the shackles of unwanted software without the need to play hide-and-go-seek.

    a. Before you reload, be prepared of course to spend some time on the phone with Microsoft's support in order to get reactivated, as this is sometimes necessary.

  4. Your disk could be fragged. It would be a bit early for this to have occurred, but that depends on how much you download, how many files from your previous system you've copied over to this new one, and how much got installed as part of the pre-loaded stuff.

  5. Windows has its own Antimalware agent which runs periodically. On my system, this is typically what causes the sometimes-crippling disk-usage spikes. If you like, you can disable it.

EDIT: For a quick fix (note: haven't used it myself) you may also try PC Decrapifier, in addition to of course seeing popular related questions.

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