On my Windows 2003 Server, the disk activity has been out of control recently - the disk queue is getting long, and I'm getting heat on the wait time for resources. I'm looking for a tool that will let me view two things:

  1. What processes are causing the majority of disk accesses
  2. What files are being accessed constantly

Number 2 seems more important to me, since I can identify files that might be better either compressed (to lower the size of disk reads and shift load to the processor, which is only lightly utilized) or moved to the FC SAN.

Thanks for your suggestions!

  • Did you solve #2? – Mark K Cowan Jul 6 '17 at 12:16
  • @MarkKCowan Process Monitor actually does both of these things - if it didn't 7 years ago when I posted this, it definitely doesn't now. I wasn't aware of this tool at the time, but it's become a solid piece of my toolbox that I use constantly! – SqlRyan Jul 6 '17 at 16:12
  • Thanks, much needed by a friend who runs Windows Server and has constant heavy IO! – Mark K Cowan Jul 6 '17 at 19:30

You can get a quick bird's eye view using Process Monitor to see what the currently-running processes are doing. This will show you both the processes and the files they're accessing.

Adding the "I/O Read Bytes", "I/O Write Bytes", "I/O Reads", and "I/O Writes" columns to Task Manager can give you some ideas, too.

Longer term, you're probably best off capturing some counter logs w/ Performance Monitor and sifting through the data. The free Performance Analysis of Logs (PAL) tool can give you some decent feedback of overall system performance characteristics.

I'd wonder about whether you're seeing memory paging causing an increase in disk activity. Watch the "Pages Input / sec" counter of the "Memory" object in Performance Monitor. A sustained high count of pages input / sec indicates that you're starved for physical memory, which can manifest itself in excessive disk access.


I used Filemon for something like this a while ago. Turns out theres a new tool called ProcessMon which does real time registry and file system monitoring.


Edit - Evan beat me to it; I also like PAL for analysing perfmon counters thats a good tip.

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