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We periodically have XP crashes. When we restart XP we go through a disk check that takes half an hour. Do we need to do this disk check? Can we disable it?

Update: Partition is indeed FAT32

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Would be interesting to check the cause of the "periodical XP crashes". I mean, it's not supposed to be something to live with. – Gnoupi Oct 21 '09 at 13:53
@Gnoupi, I agree! Wish I knew how to determine the cause of the crashes. – Marcus Leon Oct 21 '09 at 15:32
up vote 8 down vote accepted

You don't need to run it, but it's a really good idea. The problem is, if your computer crashes, your operating system doesn't have a chance to cleanly unmount the file system. So the file system may no longer be consistent. Inconsistent file systems can lead to significant problems. You may lose files. You may have cross-linked files (edit one file and its contents end up in another). That sort of thing. If you don't deal with these issues, all bets are off.

However, I'm curious at your comment that it takes half an hour. Are you running NTFS or FAT32? If you are running FAT32, switch to NTFS. NTFS is a journalled file system. Among other things, that means that it should be considerably faster to check the consistency of the file system after a crash. When Vista crashes on me, it takes less than a couple of minutes to check my 1.5 TB NTFS partition, unless things have gone hideously wrong.

The Wikipedia entry on fsck goes into a little bit more detail on why you need to check file system integrity, albeit from the perspective of Unix and Linux operating systems.

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Converting from FAT/FAT32 to NTFS is quite simple. Open a command prompt and type in convert c: /FS:NTFS (or whatever drive it is you want to convert). – Jared Harley Oct 21 '09 at 15:01
Just remember that you can't convert back to FAT32 once you've done NTFS – Hondalex Oct 21 '09 at 15:10
@Jared, so you can convert without losing any data? You don't need to reinstall XP after converting? – Marcus Leon Oct 21 '09 at 15:32
Yup, no data loss at all. You just run that command in the command prompt. It'll run for a little bit and then it's done (one of the easiest changes you'll ever make on a PC!) – Jared Harley Oct 21 '09 at 15:42
You can convert from NTFS back to FAT32, but you'd need to use software external to Windows. I think PartitionMagic, for example, can do it. I wouldn't recommend this, though. – ChrisInEdmonton Oct 23 '09 at 16:13

The disk check happens because XP detects the filesystem was not cleanly dismounted (due to the crash). Disabling it is not recommended.

If your C: drive currently takes up the entirety of the hard drive, this is why the check takes so long. You could optimize it by shrinking the system partition (C:) to a bare-minimum size and storing all data on a separate partition. Depending on the programs you have installed, bare-minimum would be anywhere from 5GB to 30GB.

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I'm not sure that would help; presumably the second partition would also not be cleanly unmounted. If you are using FAT32, though, you'll likely see a substantial benefit from switching to NTFS. – ChrisInEdmonton Oct 21 '09 at 13:26
the second partition could easily be clean when the system partition is dirty after a crash. certainly doesn't have to be, but it could be, and/or a chkdsk of the second partition could be delayed until the system has booted. i agree with your FAT32->NTFS comment though. – quack quixote Oct 21 '09 at 13:32
It's certainly possible that the second partition could be clean. I don't personally expect it would happen often, but I can imagine at least one circumstance where one partition could be dirty and the other clean; crash during shutdown. Much harder to imagine a situation where the second partition makes things worse. :) – ChrisInEdmonton Oct 21 '09 at 13:56

What you're looking to do is disable Scandisk on boot. That can be done through a registry modification - from Microsoft Help and Support:

  1. Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then click OK.
  2. Locate and then click the following key in the registry: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\BootExecute
  3. On the Edit menu, click Modify.
  4. Type autocheck autochk *, and then press ENTER.

As always, when modifying the system registry, be sure to make a backup first!

If this doesn't work, the Help and Support link above details 2 other steps to try.

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This will work but if the file system was not cleanly unmounted, it could lead to massive data corruption. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. – ChrisInEdmonton Oct 21 '09 at 13:25
@Chris Seconded. And I agree with your answer too - sounds like a move to NTFS would help the OP. – Jared Harley Oct 21 '09 at 14:54

This is the script for Jared Harley's answer

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]


(Save it as .reg and execute it)

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