# diagnose “corrupt file” problems

My computer has been crashing the last couple weeks pretty regularly (at least once a day). A lot of times things I do will display a little notification in the bottom right saying something about a corrupt file. (I'm on Windows XP Pro Service Pack 3).

When the computer does crash I get the "blue screen of death" usually.

Some of the notifications also advise running the chkdsk utility. I cannot get it to successfully run.

Using the command prompt (or even the "tools" menu after right clicking the drive and choosing properties), it will not run the utility (it says "do you want to schedule it to run next boot time" or whatever, which I confirm). The problem is that most of the time after restarting, it doesn't run at all. The few times it does run, it has an error (I can't remember the error right now, it at least says it's ntfs and such) and says disk checking will end.

How can I get it to successfully run?

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You'd get better help if you could provide exact error messages: the one from the systray, the BSOD, and the chkdsk error too. –  goblinbox Dec 22 '10 at 22:32

Hmm I am no expert, but my guess would be that either there is something wrong with your Windows, or your hard drive is failing. If you hear any strange scratching noises, that would be your hard drive failing. I think I had similar BSODs on XP SP3 some time ago, and chkdsk wouldn't run either, be it in Windows or on boot. I solved that when I reinstalled Windows. Maybe you could try a repair install from your Windows CD, but that might reset some settings.

The first thing I'd try is maybe check the hard drive's health with a program that can read SMART info, such as Speedfan.

The second thing I'd do is note the exact error message in the BSOD and Google it / post it here. Though on my PC the BSODs were not always the same.

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Start it in Safe mode, then run chkdsk.

Make sure you have a good backup of your data in case you need to reinstall.

If necessary, use a rescue CD (or bootable USB drive / flash). E.g. System Rescue CD

Run diagnostics to check if the disk is OK. Check memory too.

A final resort is to replace the disk (if suspected faulty), reinstall the operating system and applications then finally restore your data from backup.

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The same thing was happening in Safe Mode (it would prompt whether or not to try when I restart). –  Matthew Dec 22 '10 at 22:55
You tell it Y and then restart. Let us know if it has anything really bad - and the log will show up in the system event log in case you want to copy/paste. Give it a /r for good measure. –  SilverbackNet Dec 22 '10 at 23:29

I have had issues with Windows not running chkdsk as well when I schedule it after a reboot. I would try scheduling with the chkntfs utility like so:

chkntfs /C c:

then confirm.

If the issue persists, you can try using a USB hard drive reader and running chkdsk from another windows system. This is a good method because the system can put a lock on the volume without rebooting.

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It sounds like you may have a failing hard drive. You could reinstall, as others have suggested, however I would suggest something a little different. Buy a new hard drive, take the old one out, install the new one, and reinstall Windows to the new hard drive. You will save yourself frustration and time in the long run. Plus, you can get an external enclosure for the old drive and try to salvage any data that you may not have backed up elsewhere at your leisure.

P.S. You do have a good, recent backup, right?

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I'd go a step further and say that it's time for a reinstall. They suck, but sometimes it's just time. There's either a serious hardware problem, a serious driver problem, or a completely corrupt filesystem, and no matter which it is, chkdsk won't fix it.

First rule out hardware failures: Read this troubleshooting advice and follow as much as you can. Open your computer and clean it out, get canned air or at least blow as hard as you can to dislodge any dust. Check that all of the fans are still spinning. Don't even bother reinstalling windows before verifying all of that, you could easily be unable to complete a reinstall or end up corrupting the new one just as well.

Then reinstall before you lose anything else. Back up everything to an external drive, download your drivers, and start all over. Not only will it start working better, it'll probably be twice as fast.

That's my opinion, after years of spending more time fixing all manner of corruption in computers than it would have taken to just reinstall them in the first place. Once you start having to rebuild broken OS components, it's not worth it unless you're seriously interested in how the OS is put together. I try not to let my stubbornness get in the way of good sense anymore.

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