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How to Troubleshoot Disk Problems (part 2) - How to Use the Graphical Chkdsk Interface

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1/16/2014 3:23:07 AM
How to Use the Graphical Chkdsk Interface

In addition to using the command-line version of Chkdsk, you can run Chkdsk from My Computer or Windows Explorer.

1.
Click Start, and then click Computer.

2.
Right-click the volume you want to check, and then click Properties.

3.
Click the Tools tab, and then click Check Now.

4.
Do one of the following:

  • To run Chkdsk in read-only mode, clear all check boxes, and then click Start.

  • To repair errors without scanning the volume for bad sectors, select the Automatically Fix File System Errors check box, and then click Start.

  • To repair errors, locate bad sectors, and recover readable information, select both the Automatically Fix File System Errors and Scan For And Attempt Recovery Of Bad Sectors check boxes, and then click Start.

Chkdsk will run immediately if the volume is not in use and then display the results in a dialog box. If the volume is in use, Chkdsk will request that you schedule a disk check for the next time the computer is restarted.

After running, Chkdsk adds the results to the Application Event Log with a source of Chkdsk, as shown in Figure 1. The Event Log entry will contain the entire Chkdsk output, including details about any changes made to the volume. To determine if a computer has had ongoing disk problems, search the Event Log for older Chkdsk entries.

Figure 1. Chkdsk results are stored in the Application Event Log.

How to Determine Whether Chkdsk Is Scheduled to Run

Windows Vista might also configure Chkdsk to automatically run at startup if it detects problems with a volume. Volumes that Windows Vista determines need to be checked are considered “dirty.” To determine whether a volume is considered dirty, run the following command at a command prompt:

chkntfs volume:

For example, to determine whether drive C is considered dirty, run:

chkntfs C:

You can also use the Chkntfs tool to prevent a dirty volume from being checked at startup, which is useful if you want to avoid the time-consuming Chkdsk and will not be at the computer during startup to bypass Chkdsk. For more information, run the following at a command prompt:

Chkntfs /?

Chkdsk Process on NTFS Volumes

When you run Chkdsk on NTFS volumes, the Chkdsk process consists of three major stages and two optional stages. Chkdsk displays its progress for each stage with the following messages:

Windows is verifying files (stage 1 of 5)...
File verification completed.
CHKDSK is verifying indexes (stage 2 of 5)...
Index verification completed.
CHKDSK is verifying security descriptors (stage 3 of 5)...
Security descriptor verification completed.
CHKDSK is verifying file data (stage 4 of 5)...
File data verification completed.
CHKDSK is verifying free space (stage 5 of 5)...
Free space verification completed.

The following list describes each of the Chkdsk stages.

Stage 1: Chkdsk verifies each file record segment in the master file table

During stage 1, Chkdsk examines each file record segment in the volume’s master file table (MFT). A specific file record segment in the MFT uniquely identifies every file and directory on an NTFS volume. The percent complete that Chkdsk displays during this phase is the percent of the MFT that has been verified.

The percent complete indicator advances relatively smoothly throughout this phase, although some unevenness might occur. For example, file record segments that are not in use require less time to process than do those that are in use, and larger security descriptors take more time to process than do smaller ones. Overall the percent complete is a fairly accurate representation of the actual time required for that phase.

Stage 2: Chkdsk checks the directories in the volume

During stage 2, Chkdsk examines each of the indexes (directories) on the volume for internal consistency and verifies that every file and directory represented by a file record segment in the MFT is referenced by at least one directory. Chkdsk also confirms that every file or subdirectory referenced in each directory actually exists as a valid file record segment in the MFT and checks for circular directory references. Chkdsk then confirms that the time stamps and the file size information associated with files are up-to-date in the directory listings for those files.

The percent complete that Chkdsk displays during this phase is the percent of the total number of files on the volume that are checked. For volumes with many thousands of files and folders, the time required to complete this stage can be significant.

The duration of stage 2 varies because the amount of time required to process a directory is closely tied to the number of files or subdirectories listed in that directory. Because of this dependency, the percent complete indicator might not advance smoothly during stage 2, though the indicator continues to advance even for large directories. Therefore, do not use the percent complete as a reliable representation of the actual time remaining for this phase.

Stage 3: Chkdsk verifies the security descriptors for each volume

During stage 3, Chkdsk examines each of the security descriptors associated with each file and directory on the volume by verifying that each security descriptor structure is well formed and internally consistent. The percent complete that Chkdsk displays during this phase is the percent of the number of files and directories on the volume that are checked.

The percent complete indicator advances relatively smoothly throughout this phase, although some unevenness might occur.

Stage 4 (optional): Chkdsk verifies file data

During stage 4, Chkdsk verifies all clusters in use. Chkdsk performs stages 4 and 5 if you specify the /r parameter when you run Chkdsk. The /r parameter confirms that the sectors in each cluster are usable. Specifying the /r parameter is usually not necessary because NTFS identifies and remaps bad sectors during the course of normal operations, but you can use the /r parameter if you suspect the disk has bad sectors.

The percent complete that Chkdsk displays during stage 4 is based on the percent of used clusters that are checked. Used clusters typically take longer to check than unused clusters, so stage 4 lasts longer than stage 5 on a volume with equal amounts of used and unused clusters. For a volume with mostly unused clusters, stage 5 takes longer than stage 4.

Stage 5 (optional): Chkdsk verifies free space

During stage 5, Chkdsk verifies unused clusters. Chkdsk performs stage 5 only if you specify the /r parameter when you run Chkdsk. The percent complete that Chkdsk displays during stage 5 is the percent of unused clusters that are checked.

3. How to Use the Disk Cleanup Wizard

With Disk Cleanup (Cleanmgr.exe), you can delete unneeded files and compress infrequently accessed files. This tool is primarily useful for resolving problems that might be related to a shortage of disk space. Insufficient free disk space can cause many problems, ranging from Stop errors to file corruption. To increase free space you can do the following:

  • Move files to another volume or archive them to backup media.

  • Compress files or disks to reduce the space required to store data.

  • Delete unneeded files.

To run Disk Cleanup, follow these steps:

1.
Click Start, and then click Computer.

2.
Right-click the drive you want to clean, and then click Properties. On the Properties dialog, click Disk Cleanup.

3.
Click either My Files Only or Files From All Users On This Computer.

4.
On the Disk Cleanup tab, select the files to delete, and then click OK.

4. How to Disable Non-volatile Caching

Windows Vista is the first Windows operating system to support caching hard disk data to non-volatile cache on hard disks with the required cache. Windows Vista can use the cache to improve startup performance, improve the performance of frequently modified system data, and reduce utilization. In rare circumstances, the failing non-volatile cache might cause problems. To eliminate the possibility that the non-volatile cache is causing problems, you can disable different cache functionality using the following Group Policy settings (located in Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\Disk NV Cache):

  • Turn Off Boot And Resume Optimizations Enable this policy to prevent Windows Vista from using the non-volatile cache to speed startup times.

  • Turn Off Cache Power Mode Enable this policy to prevent Windows Vista from putting disks into a non-volatile cache power-saving mode, which enables the hard disk to spin down while continuing to use the non-volatile cache.

  • Turn Off Non Volatile Cache Feature Enable this policy to completely disable all use of the non-volatile cache.

  • Turn Off Solid State Mode Enable this policy to prevent frequently written files such as the system metadata and registry from being stored in the non-volatile cache.

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