Save Your Hard Disk Part I: Scan Disk

During the 1980s when Personal Computers were coming up in the main stream, operating systems like DOS came up with some utilities that allowed diagnosis of the disks. At those times, the only type of disks that were supported were the Floppy Disks and we are all aware that these disks had smaller sizes in terms of capacities. The most sought after utility was a small program called the chkdsk – meaning – Check Disk.

What is chkdsk?
The chkdsk, check disk, utility allowed the user to scan the drive for errors. These errors were in terms of back sectors and was restricted to scanning only. DOS did not come with any methods to fix these errors. However the reporting of the bad sectors was done using the check disk.

As personal computers became more popular, more research was being done to increase the capacity of the disks and soon we saw the usage of hard disks on the personal computers. Soon the size (capacity) of the hard disks started to increase and poor check disk was restricted in its use as it could not handle the hard disks of over a size.

What About Norton Tools - NDD(Norton Disk Doctor)?
Then came Dr. Peter Norton who took the world of computing to a surprise with his Norton Tools. These tools were a bunch of tools that not allowed to scan the hard disks but also allowed to fix the errors. They also allowed the users to move the data stored at the lowest level – in terms of tracks and sectors – so that most of the data could be recovered and restored.

What Is ScanDisk?
It was in 1995 that Microsoft launched the first version of its GUI (graphical user interface) based operating system – Windows 95 and this is considered to be a turning point in the history of PC (personal computers). Since then, the computers hardware has been undergoing rapid changes and the most essential part is the use of ever growing capacities of hard disks.

Microsoft Windows 95 shipped with the Graphical version of the ChkDsk utility and Microsoft named it Scan Disk. This tool was also available in the stand alone versions of Windows 98 and Windows ME. The use of the Scan disk was limited primarily to checking the hard disk for errors and unfortunately it was more derived from the CHKDSK utility and therefore provided no remedy for correcting these errors.

Then when Microsoft intervened in the area of Operating Systems for Servers, it had to attach some more functionality to the Scan disk utility. This is when it attached the Analyze and Fix features in its Network based Operating Systems.

For the general user, on Windows XP and Windows Vista and also on Windows 7, the scandisk utlity comes with features that can be used to fix the problems on the hard disks.

How To Scandisk my Drive or Partitions?
To start Scan Disk on the Windows XP and above, you have to select the Drive – which can be a complete partition or a partition of the current harddisk. 

This is how you have to start it out –
1. Open My computer and from there select the disk on which you want to run the scandisk tool.
2. Right Click and Select Properties to display the properties dialog box on the screen

3. Once on the Properties dialog box, select the Tools Tab. It is here that the Scan Disk tool is available.
4. To start the scan disk tool, click on check now in the Error Checking Section. This will display the ScanDisk Window and it is here that you can instruct how you want to scan your disk.

5. On the window of scandisk you would find a couple of check boxes and these are the ones that decide how the scan disk should function. Following is a brief description of the options –

a. Automatically fix File System Errors – If you select this check box, the scandisk would do a thorough scan of your hard disk and will attempt to fix all of the system errors that it might encounter during the checking of the disks. The various file system errors that it can try to fix for you are lost clusters erroneous entries in the Tables used by the system (FAT or NTFS). This option when selected takes a lot of time depending on the capacity of the drive in question. It also takes time when you drive contains more data.

b. Scan for Attempt Recovery of Bad Sectors – This check box when selected, instructs the operating system to try and recover the areas that are getting bad. Selecting this does not ensure that the hard disk would be free from all errors after the scan but you can try this as an attempt to recover the areas that are getting bad. During this phase, the operating system will check for the bad sectors and try to recover the data if possible.

c. Once you are decided what to do, click on the start button.

1. If you are selecting the second option “Scan for Attempt Recovery of Bad Sectors” windows will automatically perform the first option for you and this means that you need not select the first option.
2. You would need to stop using any of the content on this disk before starting a scandisk on this drive. This means that you should not be using any data file or program file that is stored on this partition of the disk. If the drive is currently in use, windows displays a message asking if you want to reschedule the disk checking for the next time you restart your computer. Your drive is not available to run other tasks while the disk is being checked.
3. For a complete checkup of your disks and increase the speed of access to files and content of the disk, you would also need to perform Defragmentation of your hard disk.

Hope you liked this post. Its been a long time that I was away and now that I am back, I hope that my visitors would be happy. I welcome your feedbacks as ever.


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