Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fixing Corrupt Data on a Hard drive–CHKDSK

Corrupt data (files) on a system can cause all kinds of problems; for example, not being able to boot the computer.  Fortunately fixing this problem is fairly simple at least as long as the hard drive with the corrupt data is not a system drive or you have a second computer you can plug the corrupt system drive into to fix the corrupt data.  Just to note, by system drive I am referring to the hard drive that has your operating system (such as Windows).  In my experience trying to fix a system drive while using it does not work that well – even though it is possible.

What can cause corrupt data?  There all kinds of reasons that you can end of with corrupt data on a hard drive; the most common one that I have seen/experienced is the result of an improper shutdown; which can be a result of powering the computer without shutting it down, pulling the plug, power outage, ect.  Probably the second most common reason I have seen is a result of viruses and other malicious software; malicious software has a way of wrecking data on a hard drive and it is not a bad idea to check your hard drive for corrupt data after a virus.  The final reason I am going to mention is the result of a failing hard drive, failing hard drives in my experience usually give a little bit of warning before they fail and constantly corrupting data can be a good sign.  If you are constantly having to fix corrupt data on your hard drive, this can be a very good sign that your hard drive is failing – assuming you are not have trouble with the other two reasons (improper shutdowns and viruses) I mentioned.

CHKDSK is a command line program that has been around since the DOS days.  There is also a GUI (graphical user interface) program, which I will cover in this post as well. However, I actually prefer the command line program CHKDSK, contrary to the fact that I usually prefer GUI’s.  CHKDSK is accessed from the Command Prompt or a command line.  Also, in my experience it works best if you do not try to perform a CHKDSK on a hard drive that is currently booted and in use.  Obviously if it is the only hard drive in your computer – which is likely the case – and you do not have a second computer or the capabilities to hook up the hard drive to the second computer then you will have to try to perform a CHKDSK on the boot drive.  This will most likely require you to restart your computer in order for CHKDSK to check the hard drive.

To open Command Prompt, go to Start > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt [Right Click] and Run as administrative.  You should receive a warming about the program making changes to your computer – just click Yes.


In the Command Prompt window type in: chkdsk [Drive Letter]: /f then press Enter on the keyboard.  In my case I decided to check drive I, so I typed in chkdsk I: /f.


Finished results, this hard drive is in good shape so I did not receive any errors:


The /f command fixes any found errors on the disk, alternatively you can also use /r or /b.  If you want more information about the CHKDSK command you can type in chkdsk /? which will bring up the help section.  You may also have to use /x command if the hard drive is in use. 


How to Preform a CHKDSK from Windows without the command prompt (GUI).

If you do not want to use the command prompt, you can also preform the check from My Computer.  First open up My Computer, either the Computer/My Computer link on the desktop or under the Start Menu.


In My Computer, right click on the hard drive you want to check, and click on Properties.


In the Properties, click on the Tools tab, then click Check Now….


Check Disk will give you option if you want to automatically fix file system errors as well as scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors.  I recommend checking both boxes, just be aware that checking the second box for scanning bad sectors will make the scan take a long time.


When done you will receive the results of the check – in my case no problems were found!


Just to note here, if you try to perform this on your boot drive while in use, you will receive a warning that you can perform the check, and you will be given the option to schedule a check on the next startup.


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