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How to Fix Hard Drive Errors

Microsoft Windows comes with built-in utilities to check hard drives for errors. Hard drives that are formatted using the FAT32 file system should be checked for errors about once a month. For hard drives that are formatted using the NTFS file system automatically undergo a basic error check on startup so this process isn't needed unless a problem is suspected.

To find out what type of file system your hard drive is using, look at the General tab in the Local Disk Properties box. This box can be accessed by opening Windows Explorer, right-clicking the drive in question and choosing Properties from the menu list.

hard drive error

To use the disc checking tool, you will need to give the utility exclusive access to the hard drive. This means no other programs, including Windows, can be running while the utility is running. A prompt box will let you know this and with your okay will restart the system and run its tests.

Close all open programs and save your data. To access the Disk Error Checking Tool, go to My Computer and right click on the hard drive you want to check, in most cases this is the C: Drive. When you right-click this, a menu appears with options. Choose Properties from the list.

hard drive errors

The Local Disk Properties Box opens. Click on the Tools tab as shown below.

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Here you will see the Error Checking Tool and the Defragmentation Tool. Click on the Check Now box in the Error Checking section.

hard drive system error

Two options are available in this utility. The first will automatically fix file system errors and is the recommended choice for most users. If you're an advanced user and want to see the errors the utility finds before fixing them, leave this box unchecked.

The second choice will scan for bad sectors and attempt to recover any bad sectors found in the hard drive. This choice cannot actual fix any physical damage to a hard drive but it may be able to move files from the bad section to a good section, preserving your data.

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In order to proceed, you will need to give the Disk Checking utility access to your system. By clicking Yes to the above dialogue box, you are agreeing to let the disk check happen on your next startup. Go ahead and click Yes and reboot your PC to allow the disk check to happen right away.

It can take a great deal of time for this procedure to complete, sometimes up to thirty or more minutes depending on the options selected and the state of the hard drive, so make sure to plan on performing the check when you don't need to use the PC for a while. You'll see a blue screen as the system checks your hard drive with an option to stop the scan and proceed with boot up. This gives you the chance to skip the scheduled scan for now and continue booting up the PC. If you don't skip the scan, the error check will verify files and folders and display the progress as a percentage of completion. Next it will verify the free space.

Once complete, the system will boot up as normal.

Another way you can check your disk for errors is to start Check Disk from the command prompt. Simply go to the Start Button, choose Run, type in Chkdsk and hit enter.

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hard drive error message

If you want Chkdsk to automatically fix errors, type: chkdsk/f in the command box. Running Chkdsk using the command prompt doesn't require a re-boot.

Disk error checking is oftentimes started automatically by Windows if an error occurred and shut down the system. This can be annoying and time-consuming but it does serve its purpose. As tempting as it may be in this situation to skip it, go ahead and let the error checking utility do its job. You may avert data loss by performing this preventative step.

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