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Checking Your Disk Drive for Errors

The Check Disk Utility is very useful for finding potential errors on your disk drives and increasing overall performance. The fact that Windows XP supports three different file systems (FAT, FAT32, and NTFS) makes this utility even more useful for verifying the integrity of file systems after they have been modified. For example, many companies today are changing from FAT or FAT32 to NTFS because the latter operating system provides a greater degree of security.

It's important to realize that disk drives can be affected by both "hard" errors and "soft" errors, with the latter being fixable through software utilities in an operating system. The classification of these error types is nothing new to Windows XP specifically, yet the capability to resolve soft errors through the use of command lines has vastly improved.

One of the most often-used tools for checking a disk drive for soft and hard errors is Check Disk. To run Check Disk, follow the series of steps shown here:

  1. Select the Command Prompt from the Accessories Menu.

  2. Navigate to the drive you want to perform Check Disk on by using the drive letter and a colon sign. For example, for the F drive, you would select F: and then press Enter.

  3. Type CHKDSK. The utility begins running, verifying that the disk doesn't have any errors included in it. If the disk drive you're running CHKDSK on is in use, the utility prompts you to start once your system is rebooted.

  4. Once completed, CHKDSK builds a log file that can be used for further troubleshooting.

After running CHDSK from the command line, you may also want to consider using the interactive interface for it as well. If you're a system administrator, and you will be teaching others how to use CHDSK, follow the series of steps shown here. These steps use the interactive feature CHDSK:

  1. Right-click Computer Management in the console tree and then select Connect To Another Computer. Use the Select Computer dialog box to select the computer you want to work with.

  2. In the console tree, expand Storage and then select Disk Management. The current volumes on the system are displayed in the right pane of the window.

  3. Right-click a drive, and then select Properties. In the Tools tab, click Check Now (which is the same as CHKDSK).

  4. To check for errors without repairing them, click Start without selecting either of the check boxes in the Check Disk dialog box.

  5. To check for errors, select either or both of the following options and then click Start:

    • Automatically Fix File System Errors. Determines whether Windows XP repairs file system errors it finds.

    • Scan For And Attempt Recovery Of Bad Sectors. Determines whether Windows XP checks for bad sectors, and attempts to recover readable information from them.

  6. If the disk is in use, Check Disk displays a prompt that asks if you want it to schedule the disk to be checked the next time you restart them system.

  7. Click on Yes to schedule this.

  8. When the Check Disk finishes analyzing and repairing the disk, click on OK.

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