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
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.
- Use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-Esc to open the Task Manager.
- 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.
- 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.
- On Windows 7 or older: Select View > Select Columns.
- Scroll down in the window that opens and check I/O read bytes and I/O write bytes.
- Click ok to close the window again.
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
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.
- Start Process Explorer. The program is portable, you can run it from any location on your system.
- Select View > Select Columns from the main menu.
- Switch to the Process Disk tab.
- Enable Read Bytes and Write Bytes by checking the options.
- Click on ok to complete the process.
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?
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