Vista Check Disk Usage Guide

Anytime somebody has hard drive errors, I always recommend that they run chkdsk… what nerd wouldn’t? The chkdsk (Check Disk) utility is used in Windows to scan through your entire hard drive and find problems. It’s like a lot like doing inventory. It’s boring, but it has to be done sometimes. I recommend that you run through a check disk every month or two.

Using Check Disk the GUI Way

Open up Computer and then right-click on the drive you want to check, and choose Properties. Then select the Tools tab, and click the “Check Now” button. A little dialog will pop up to allow you to choose the options you want for the disk check. You should check both options if you want to really check the disk properly, but if you just want to do a quick check you could select only the first one. The only problem with that is that Windows can’t check a drive that’s being used, such as the system drive, but Windows will let you schedule a disk check for the next reboot.

You should keep in mind that running through a full check disk takes quite a while, sometimes hours depending on how big the drive is and how many files you have.

Cancelling the Scheduled Disk Check

If you had scheduled a disk check but decided you would like to cancel it, you can run a command to open up an administrator mode command prompt by right-clicking on the item in the start menu and choosing “Run as Administrator”. Type in the following command, substituting the drive letter if necessary:

Chkntfs /x c: 

How to Tell if a Manual Disk Check is Scheduled

Open an admin mode command prompt, and then type in the following command:

Chkntfs c:

How to Tell if an Automatic Disk Check is Scheduled

Sometimes if your computer has not shut down correctly, Windows will mark the drive as “dirty” basically as a reminder to itself that the drive probably has file system errors and should be checked. When the flag is set, you’ll be told the disk requires checking during the next boot up.

You can easily see the state of this flag by using two different command line options. The first is the same command as above, but you can see the output is different if the drive is set to be automatically checked.

Chkntfs c:

You could also use this command to just query the dirty bit:

Fsutil dirty query c:

Using Check Disk from the Command Line

Open up an administrator mode command prompt, and then type in the following command to do an exhaustive check of your drive. Substitute C: for whatever drive you want to check.

Chkdsk /f /r C:

If the drive is a system drive or has files in use, you’ll be asked to schedule the check for the next reboot. The above command is the recommended way to perform a disk check, but if you want to do a less exhaustive check, you could remove the /R option from the command.


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