Sunday, March 18, 2007

CHKDSK on XP system with NTFS

Although CHKDSK would run on my Sony Viao if the power ever got cut off the next time I booted, it never did that on my Dell XP Home machine that I bought in 2003. About a year ago I bought a Belkin uninterruptable power supply to prevent power-outs, and that has worked. I had logged off the system normally Saturday morning. I've been getting all of the automatic Microsoft updates, and Saturday afternoon, when I booted up after returning from the Iraq demonstrations, I got a message "NFTS Volume C is dirty" (or words to that effect) on the blue screen, and a 40 minute CHKDSK that consisted of three steps (1) file verification (2) index verification (3) security descriptor verification. The process sat during phase (3) for almost fifteen minutes with no evidence of progress, but then suddenly finished. Only one bad file and one bad index was found (both were cleaned by Chkdsk), and this was an obscure .gif that could have been left by an infected website, although McCafee had not found anything.

Dirty disks ordinarily mean improper shutdown, or might mean hardware corruption or gradual failure, or might been viral or software corruption, which should be rare if a machine is properly protected.

Here is Microsoft's reference on FAT and NFTS:

Here are a couple of other discussions: dirty volumes, chkdsk user guide.

Internet sources suggest this is a common occurrence, and recommend scheduling CHKDSK once a month, to run at the next reboot. On larger machines, CHKDSK / f can run a long time, so it could be a problem if one has to go to work.

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