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Check Disk, Why Use It?

Check Disk will tell you if your hard drive is failing, it can clean up some minor problems also...

As part of your maintenance plan like defragmenting your hard drives you should run the chkdsk.exe program once a month.

There are different ways to use the chkdsk.exe program:

If a hard drive or SSD is developing problems it is better to know now than when it fails, no?

Note: You can run a chkdsk.exe on a SSD - Solid State Drive, the /r doesn't make any difference because the sectors are in the firmware and not metal infused with a magnetic coating.

The maximum of locked out sectors on a hard drive should not exceed 10%, even 10% is high - it means that either the platter surface is degrading, the read/write head may have impacted a platter, or the electronics may be failing.

Once the failure rate of the locked out sectors reaches 5% insure you are doing scheduled backups because the drive will fail, it is just a matter of time.

Check disk or chkdsk.exe is a very handy tool for anyone.

By running a chkdsk.exe you can be forewarned of a pending failure.

From any Windows 32 or 64 bit Operating System you can 'schedule' a chkdsk on the next startup.

Using the File Management System to run a chkdsk.exe is done by using the properties page of the hard drive, on the tools tab is a block called "Error-checking" just click the "Check Now..." button and if the drive is not the Boot or System drive, has open files, or is locked by a running process then the check disk will run. Just answer the two questions that will open up on the next window and the chkdsk will run.

If one of the above conditions exist for the drive you may have to run the chkdsk.exe on the next start up. A new window will open asking if you would like to run the check disk at the next startup. If you do this expect it to take some time on the next start up.

Note: If you run a check disk on a large drive (over 250 GB) it will take a while to complete, if you check the box "Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors" it will take a very long time. A 500 GB drive in my server took almost 24 hours to complete. This does NOT lock out bad sectors it just recovers the data (if it can) in a bad sector and flags it as bad, if the drive reaches 70% capacity the file management system WILL use those bad sectors. But if you lock those sectors out then they can not be used.

To use at the command line: chkntfs /c to schedule a check disk on next startup from the command line.

Once you have ran your chkdsk.exe the screen scrolls by to fast for a good analysis of the results so look in the Event Viewer under the Applications section for the heading: "Winlogon" for your results.

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Or you can run a chkdsk from ERD Commander or BartPE on a bootable CD or USB device:

If the boot device doesn't have chkdsk.exe then go to the Windows\system32 directory and run it like this:

C:\Windows\System32\chkdsk.exe C: /f /r

  • Where /f is the drive is locked while the chkdsk.exe is running and will fix all file errors
  • Where /r is any bad sectors are found they are "locked" and an attempt is made to recover the data from the bad sectors

If you want to lock out bad sectors then the chkdsk.exe with the /r is one way to do it.

If you don't want to type the command in at the command line then make it text file or even a batch file to run the command with out making any mistakes.

Another way to check for and lock out bad sectors on a mechanical hard drive is to use a third party hard drive test program, you can find them that will run in "Safe Mode", from ERD Commander, or BartPE as a boot disk/device.

The third party drive test programs have different degrees of testing, free or shareware will only check for the surface bad sectors, some of the commercial and expensive test programs will test further and do a better job at finding the bad sectors and will give you a report on sectors it considers at risk and may even fix them.

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