If you’re a Windows 10 user like me, there’s a chance that your brand new (or old) machine occasionally throws a fit wherein your system will come to a crawl thanks to something on the system sucking up 100% of the hard disk resources. You would have, at this moment, opened up the task manager to find the culprit only to realize it doesn’t show up there either.
The problem get’s even more taxing when you launch a heavy app like Photoshop or even large JPEG files. For me personally, it made booting up my system a pain with unusually long loading times. Even trying to work with Chrome and Photoshop together was an ordeal. I can only imagine what gamers plagued by the same issue would be going through.
Like any other semi-tech literate person, I looked up to Google for wisdom and figured this isn’t an uncommon issue after all. One of my friends got a brand new Asus laptop and was running into similar issues. After discussion with him and some fixes I found online I took on this challenge to save my less-than-two-year-old HP laptop.
Now, when it comes to this particular problem, multiple fixes have been recommended over the internet. From disabling Windows Search, to disabling SuperFetch, to disabling Virtual memory, I tried everything in the book. The results were frustrating. I gave my laptop to the HP folks who did a fresh Windows 10 install (much to my chagrin) but, again, it was in vain.
Having tried all the tricks in the book, I came upon a thread on Reddit that discussed the same issue. While all the top comments were the same things I had tried already, one of the users had mentioned switching to an SSD. My laptop comes with a 5400RPM hard disk and, in my life, never has this type of disk given me an issue on my earlier systems (which were earlier versions of Windows).
The final fix that worked
I took the plunge and asked a friend returning from the States to get me a decent hard disk. He picked up a Samsung Evo 860 for around US$ 90 (for 500GB) which was way cheaper than what is costs in India (somewhere close to US$ 140).
Swapping the hard disk with an SSD wasn’t much of an ordeal. Just went through the standard procedure of unbolting the nuts, taking off the keyboard panel and swapping the hard disk with the SSD. My laptop doesn’t have an M.2 port which allows adding an SSD along with a regular hard disk, so I got a conventional 2.5 inch SATA III SSD.
Reinstalling Windows didn’t take long (if you want you can also clone your existing hard disk over on the SSD using many of the free tools available online). Once everything was set up, it was time to test whether the $90 I spent were worth it.
I’m not surprised to say that my laptop is working way better than it ever has. The boot times are great. I can open a gazillion tabs on Chrome along with Photoshop and Lightroom and everything opens up in a flash. I’ve tried to stress test the hard disk as much as possible and anything that brought my previous hard disk down to a crawl couldn’t even manage to take the disk usage beyond 40% on the task manager.
Is it possible I could have found some software trick that solved the problem without the need for an SSD? Perhaps, or, perhaps not. After spending many hours at the problem, it just wasn’t worth the trouble anymore. My laptop is also a tad lighter, runs a lot more silent, and is much faster than even when this disk issue didn’t plague me.
Safe to say as technology advances, things that worked great in yesteryear can sometimes no longer provide satisfactory performance. Maybe, Microsoft could have done a better job at making Windows 10 more optimized towards good’ol mechanical hard drives. But then you can’t expect the software of today to run on hardware of yesterday. In my opinion, manufacturers should stop selling laptops with such disks altogether and that’s where the blame lies. It creates a bad experience for everyone and also damages Windows 10’s reputation.
If you have a system plagued with the same issue, it is highly advisable to get as SSD. If you have a more recent laptop that comes with an M.2 port, you won’t even have to swap your existing hard drive and can place it along with your existing drive (moving your bootable drive to the SSD of course). I wish I had known this earlier because my Windows 10 experience so far has been extremely frustrating thanks to this not-so-little issue.