What isScan disk?


I have 2 hard drives on my machine . . . one I use (D:) for the "Windows" and OS and other similar stuff, the other one (C:) is my storage drive. It has all of "My Documents" (and I have A LOT of documents, including about 6 gigs of mp3's!) and all of the things that I download, like AOL Instant Messenger and other similar stuff.

My C: drive died. Crashed. Completely inaccessible. Luckily, I knew it was coming and backed everything up onto my D: drive. Then I bought another hard drive. Then my boyfriend and I broke up. After the hard drive arrived, my ex-boyfriend installed it for me, although I wasn't there. It worked for a few days, after that it began freezing on me occasionally and my music would sometimes skip or stop entirely for a minute or two. Then, I noticed that when I turned the machine on, the C: drive was there, but 15-20 minutes later, it would disappear. I did not want to return to my ex asking for help; I work in a computer lab at my college, so I took it to the guy I work for. He said the new drive was bad.

So I ordered a new one. The guy I work for installed it for me after it arrived and everything was perfect for a few days. I was so glad to have my computer back!! And then it started again. The same things it was doing before . . . freezing, music skipping or stopping, and then the hard drive disappearing.

Do you have ANY idea what could be happening to my machine and what I can do to fix it? I would really appreciate any insight you could possibly give me.


~Courtney Wachob~


This question was answered on November 6, 2004. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Fixing Hard Drive Errors (Scan Disk)

A computer system may become unstable This often happens when a program locks up or while downloading a file from the Internet No matter what the potential cause may be, it is quite possible that lost clusters and/or chains are on your hard drive

A lost cluster or chain is data that was written to the hard drive, but is missing a "pointer" to that data location The computer knows information is held there but can't access it The most common cause for this is failing to shutdown a computer properly or resetting a system while applications are still running

When a computer is interrupted while writing information to the hard drive, the resulting data is often incomplete Like a map for a road trip, every computer has a table telling it where every piece of data is on the hard drive A lost cluster or chain is data that is "lost." The table, or map, doesn't point to it This can also cause random lock-ups or program errors.

What Does Scan Disk Do?

Scan Disk will check the files and folders of the selected drive for any errors, lost clusters, lost chains, and bad sectors.

What is the advantage of regularly performing ScanDisk on my Computer?

If Scan Disk is not performed on a regular basis (every month), your computer may become sluggish in performance or may continually inform you that a hard drive contains missing clusters Scan Disk is one of the tools used to maintain performance and error-free file management.

How do I perform a ScanDisk on my computer?

1 Go to the Start Menu on your desktop.

2 Go to Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> ScanDisk and click on ScanDisk

Is Scan Disk available with Windows 2000 or XP?

Scan Disk is not a part of Windows 2000 or XP Instead, CHKDSK--a more modern version--performs these functions You can use the error-checking tool to check for file system errors and bad sectors on your hard disk.

1 Open My Computer, and then select the local disk you want to check.

2 On the File menu, click Properties.

3 On the Tools tab, under Error-checking, click Check Now.

4 Under Check disk options, select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box.

All files must be closed for this process to run If the volume is currently in use, a message box will appear prompting you to indicate whether you want to reschedule the disk checking for the next time you restart your system The next time you restart your system, disk checking will run Your volume will not be available to perform other tasks while this process is running.

If your volume is formatted as NTFS, Windows automatically logs all file transactions, replaces bad clusters, and stores copies of key information for all files on the NTFS volume.

Once I have opened Scan Disk on my Windows PC, what do I do now?

1 Select the hard drive to scan You can also scan a floppy disk that is giving you trouble.

2 Disable any screen savers Screen savers will interrupt the scanning process and cause it to restart frequently.

3 Select the "Type of Test" you want to perform: "Standard" or "Thorough."

* "Standard" mode will check for the lost clusters/chains, but will not check for bad spots on the hard drive This option should take only a few minutes.

* "Thorough" checks the Hard drive platters for bad spots and for lost clusters/chains If it discovers a bad spot, the program will attempt to move any data in that cluster to another good spot on your hard drive It will attempt to salvage the data.

4 After you have selected the option, press Start.

If Scan Disk discovers a lost chain it will bring up a new window on your screen Follow the instructions it gives you

Choose the repair option However, when you get the "Save Option," you may as well choose "Delete" If you choose to "Save," Scan Disk will save the file with a ".chk" extension in the root directory, "C:\".

However, you cannot open it, or use it The lost cluster/chain that was saved are pieces of lost data and the majority of the time the saved lost data is not usable.

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Posted by christopher of Katharine Gibbs School - New York on November 6, 2004