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Why Does Windows 10 Disk Cleanup Cause High CPU Usage?

You can manually deleted $Windows.~BT left by Windows upgrade – by a normal right-click-and-delete way or via a rather complex method involves takeown and icacls commands. You cannot, however, manually delete files stored in WinSxS folder (Windows Component Store).

The safest and easiest way is to use cleanmgr.exe utility (a.k.a. Disk Cleanup)! On Windows 7 SP1 and newest Windows platforms (including the latest Windows 10), this disk cleanup utility is capable of housekeeping Windows Update files that you no longer needed, such as $Windows.~BT / $Windows.~WS / Windows.old folder or system files in WinSxS folder.

Heavy CPU and disk I/O as Disk Cleanup running on Windows 10

When this utility is cleaning up previous Windows Installation or system files, you will hear loud CPU fan spinning sound and Task Manager will show a constantly high usage on CPU and disk I/O resources. The CPU fan has to spin at higher RPM (thus is noisier) in order to dissipate heat, because CPU performance decreases in tandem with high temperature on chip.

Why this happen on Windows 10? Well, geeks believe this has something to do with Windows 10 newest compression algorithm applied on system files to reduce system footprint. When disk cleanup is not dealing with system files housekeeping, it can complete task faster with lesser system load.

Is there something you can do to prevent this? Yes and no. You can avoid high system load by not using Windows native disk cleanup tool. Or, you can try taking system offline (disable network connectivity) and stop antivirus (or whatever tool that performs regular file scanning or introduces disk I/O) before running Disk Cleanup manager during lunch hour (when you’re not using the computer or when the computer is left idle).
Unwanted files not only taking up precious free disk space, they can also affect overall system performance (introduce high disk I/O and CPU usage) during antivirus scanning, disk defragmentation, file indexing, etc.

For performance’s sake, one should frequently run Disk Cleanup to reduce disk footprint!

1. Click start button (or Windows button on keyboard) then type disk cleanup or cleanmgr to locate it and execute that Desktop App.

2. If it shows “clean up system files” button, click on it for rescan:

Using Disk Cleanup to remove hidden folders and unwanted left by Windows Updates.

3. Now, you will notice more targets for housekeeping shown in the list:

Windows native Disk Cleanup utility

4. Select targets applicable for deletion and click OK to proceed.

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