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I have an awesomely evil hard-drive corruption of some sort going on with my Windows 7 installation. Whenever I schedule a scandisk and restart, Windows tells me that the hard-drive is corrupted and I need to restore to a past system restore point.

The problem is, System Restore tells me that the C: drive has errors ("Windows has detected file system corruption on C:. You must check the disk for errors before it can be restored." Then asks me to launch scandisk, which then says it needs sole access to the C drive and requires a reboot...

Ad infinitum. My Windows installation seems OK, but I feel like I need to get this solved. How can I crack this paradox and either run scandisk, or restore to a previous system restore point?

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Have you just installed Service Pack 1? –  Linker3000 Mar 14 '11 at 19:50
    
Not sure. How do I check? I'm not used to Windows 7. –  ashes999 Mar 14 '11 at 20:00
    
Not easy if you can't boot! It wouldn't hurt to do as Synetech inc suggested and try some scanning tools though. –  Linker3000 Mar 14 '11 at 20:09
    
right-click My Computer, select Properties and look under Windows edition: techlikes.com/wp-content/uploads/Windows-7-SP1-Service-Pack.png If you can’t boot, you could use the ver command in the command-prompt in System Recovery mode. –  Synetech Mar 14 '11 at 20:10
    
@Linker3000 I can boot. My computer works. But I have an itch that I can't scratch that I need to solve this. And sadly, no, I don't have the service pack installed :/ –  ashes999 Mar 14 '11 at 20:19
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4 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Do you have another OS installed that you can duel-boot into?

If not, try booting using a PE disk such as Knoppix or BartPE. That way, you can scan the drive and fix any errors while not booted into Windows.

Another option is to boot into the recovery options (hold F8 before you see the Windows logo), then open a command prompt and run scandisk from there. You can then use System Restore from System Recovery before rebooting from recovery mode.

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Unfortunately, I don't have the option of dual-booting. But will a PE disk (presumably with a Linux distro) allow me to fix a Windows file-system corruption? –  ashes999 Mar 14 '11 at 20:01
    
I have not done it myself, but I have read that there are tools (particularly on PE disks, specifically meant for this) that can scan any kind of supported file-system, including FAT32 and NTFS. I can take a look around for a PE that specifically supports scanning FAT/NTFS… Oh, and BartPE is a system that allows you to build your own Windows PE disk. –  Synetech Mar 14 '11 at 20:04
    
@ashes999, I added another (probably easier) solution. –  Synetech Mar 14 '11 at 20:09
    
Solution #2 worked. I rebooted, chose "Recover Windows," and system restore restored. Then the scan-disk worked. Tada! –  ashes999 Mar 14 '11 at 21:18
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I may have mentioned this once or twice before, but maybe Hiren's Bood CD will help you here? It contains a number of disk testing and recovery tools, as well as a Mini XP system which will allow you to run chkdsk on your hard drive.

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Great suggestion. If it comes down to that, I will definitely try it. –  ashes999 Mar 14 '11 at 20:22
    
There is a (very tiny) risk that the chkdsk on the mini XP may make changes to the file system that Windows 7 won't like, but this is probably the best option right now. –  user3463 Mar 14 '11 at 20:23
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I would pull the drive and scan it in another system.

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Anytime I have a hard drive data problems, the first thing I do is run Spinrite on it. It will do a sector by sector read of data and fixes more problems then you might think.

It isn't free, but they have a great return policy if it doesn't work. You can get it at: http://www.grc.com

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It's a work machine. Not sure if I can expense it... –  ashes999 Mar 14 '11 at 20:19
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Spinrite won't do anything at filesystem level (it works lower than that at surface level), so I don't think this is even worth looking at. –  user3463 Mar 14 '11 at 20:22
    
I'd have to disagree. If the file corruption was caused by bad sectors on the hard drive then Spinrite is a possible solution. The solution that worked was to restore the configuration files from a backup (system restored from file stored on good sectors) followed by scandisk which looks for bad sectors and recovers what it can. Spinrite has to potential to pull a good copy of the file out of the bad sector and bring the system back without having to do the restore. The only thing windows would need to do is a chkdsk to clean up any orphaned files. –  Doltknuckle Mar 28 '11 at 19:41
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