Windows 8 chkdsk utility plans detailed

How many times has your PC taken a while to start up thanks to its chkdsk utility tool?  In case you are not familiar with the term, chkdsk basically tries to repair your hard drive of problems like bad sectors, lost clusters and the like. Today, the official Windows 8 developer blog talks about how Microsoft is trying to improve chkdsk for Windows 8, along with the NTFS health model.

The changes are being made primarily because PC hard drives are getting bigger and bigger, even as Microsoft has tried to optimize how chkdsk works in Windows XP and Windows 7. Microsoft states. "Our design included changes both in the file system and the chkdsk utility to ensure the best availability."

The above diagram shows how the new NTFS model is supposed to work. One is online self-healing. Microsoft says, "In Windows 8 we increased the number of issues that can be handled online and hence reduced any further need for chkdsk." Another is new to Windows 8; the spot verification service. The company says:

It is triggered by the file system driver and it verifies that there is actual corruption on the disk before moving the file system along in the health model. This new service runs in the background and does not affect the normal functioning of the system; it does nothing unless the file system driver triggers it to verify a corruption.

Windows 8 also only runs scheduled maintenance tasks on disks when needs, such as during a PC's idle time, and can ever perform those tasks while other programs run in the foreground.

Finally Microsoft says the disk can be taken offline if need be. The blog states, "The downtime from this operation, called 'Spotfix,' takes only seconds, and on Windows Server 8 systems with cluster shared volumes, we’ve eliminated this downtime completely. With this new model, chkdsk offline run time is now directly proportional to the number of corruptions, rather than being proportional to the number of files as in the old model."

The new file health model for Windows 8 has been broken now into four states. One is "Online and healthy", where no action is needed. The second is "online spot verification needed", where the spot verification service verifies the corruption (again, no user action is needed).

The third is "online scan needed"; where the spot-verification service confirms the corruption; the issue can be solved in the next maintenance window. That means the user doesn't have to do anything but he or she is notified about it in the Action Center message shown above. They can then decide to perform a manual check before the next maintenance windows starts.

Finally, there's the "Spot fix needed" state. Microsoft says:

On client systems, you can restart the PC to fix all the file system issues logged in the previous step. The restart is quick (adding just a few additional seconds) and the PC is returned to a healthy state. For Windows Server 8 systems, a restart is unnecessary to fix corruptions on data volumes. Administrators can simply schedule a spot fix during the next maintenance window.

Images via Microsoft

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Analyst most worried about Zuckerberg's hoodie for Facebook IPO

Next Story

Emulating NES games on your PS Vita - the Sony certified way

13 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

What about diagnostic tools during setup. For example, why won't Windows recognize a hard disk or fix problems formatting one during setup. Why do you sometimes have to borrow a Linux disc to actually format the drive before you can install Window on it. These are some of the things that remain a mystery to me with Windows.

Good to see diagnostics are getting improved here.
Better to see Microsoft still caring about the "reoslution to problem" side of an OS.
Good JoB

Now these are really smart improvements. Instead of locking and taking the volume offline for the entire duration of the scan, it does almost all operations online except for the spotfix and then takes it offline only for the short duration of the spotfix.

Max™ said,
Wonder what happens when you have a bad SATA cable?

In my experiences with bad SATA cables the drive has just dropped from the device manager as if it was unplugged.

GreyWolf said,

In my experiences with bad SATA cables the drive has just dropped from the device manager as if it was unplugged.

In the past the drives I used developed bad files to the point of crashing. Then you would run a chkdsk, it would fix them, then soon after it would crash again with a different set of files. Even chkdsking upon every reboot will correct more and more files.

Max™ said,

In the past the drives I used developed bad files to the point of crashing. Then you would run a chkdsk, it would fix them, then soon after it would crash again with a different set of files. Even chkdsking upon every reboot will correct more and more files.

From SATA cables?

Yea, and the one instance where my win8 system told it needed to scan for errors, actually ended up killing the whole windows install.

SharpGreen said,
Yea, and the one instance where my win8 system told it needed to scan for errors, actually ended up killing the whole windows install.

Most likely your install was already corrupted then, but only a restart actually showed the corruption.

Very nice. They should really make it easier to dismount drives that are in use. Telling us what is using the drive would be nicer than just telling us that something is.

mrp04 said,
Very nice. They should really make it easier to dismount drives that are in use. Telling us what is using the drive would be nicer than just telling us that something is.

There are a few types of Locks, but 99.9% of the time, Computer Management - Shares, Resource Monitor/Task Manager will find the locking process for you. And if that doesn't work for an odd reason, Process Explorer from Microsoft (written by Sysinternals) will find it.

Additional note, I haven't seen a problem with not being able to 'force a dismount' in a long long time, like XP days.

thenetavenger said,

There are a few types of Locks, but 99.9% of the time, Computer Management - Shares, Resource Monitor/Task Manager will find the locking process for you. And if that doesn't work for an odd reason, Process Explorer from Microsoft (written by Sysinternals) will find it.

Additional note, I haven't seen a problem with not being able to 'force a dismount' in a long long time, like XP days.

That's a VERY complicated process. You can usually just pull things out, but I like to enable write caching on my USB hard drive to help with performance when I'm working with many little files. It's not good to just yank it when that is enabled.