I'm trying to recover some data off a crashed hard drive using Windows System Recovery. Startup Repair just hangs for days (yes, literally) with no disk activity. So, I'm trying to run chkdsk c: /f from the command line. It seems to work, fixes errors, etc, but then hangs after I see the message:

chkdsk is verifying usn journal

All I get after this message is a blinking cursor. So after a few hours with no other response (even to ctrl+c, I hard reset my computer and try again.

I was given a tip that I should delete my usn journal. So, I tried running fsutil usn deletejournal /d c:, but it couldn't find fsutil.exe. So I copied fsutil.exe to a thumb drive and tried with that, and this time got the message:

The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable

So, now I'm running chkdsk again, and it's still finding errors, but far fewer than the first time around. It seems to be stuck at "chkdsk is verifying usn journal" again, but I'll let it sit for a couple hours.

So my question is... What should I try next?

  • Keep running chkdsk until it works?
  • Keep trying to delete the usn journal after each attempt to run chkdsk?
  • Use some other means of deleting the usn journal?
  • Something else?
  • Back up your data on that drive you don't want to risk and use Spinrite 6, has saved my drives more than once....grc.com/intro.htm – Moab Apr 14 '12 at 23:24
  • any update? i encounter same problem. – Adi Prasetyo Nov 22 '17 at 17:12

The longer you use a failing drive the worse and more unreliable it becomes. So if this data is important to recover I would begin backing it up sooner than later. So at this point you might want to skip the chkdsk stuff since you potentially have limited time if the drive decides to stop working altogether.

There are also a number of tools to clone the drive. I find the most reliable to be a tool called dd_rescue. Essentially it makes a bit by bit copy of the hard drive, skipping over any bad or unrecoverable sectors it encounters. This is obviously slow and if the drive is failing to an extreme you might not be able to recover anything.

Another free tool to look at is called Unstoppable Copier. This one is used to recover specific files, which in many cases can be much more convenient than cloning the entire drive (for obvious reasons).

If neither of these tools help at this point, and the data is super important you should maybe consider taking it to a data recovery company.

  • 1
    I actually was trying to backup some files, but c:` is inaccessible. That's why I was running chkdsk... to try and make c:` readable again. – gilly3 Apr 14 '12 at 1:56
  • I think you will still want to use one of these two methods. Another quick thing to try I forgot about is booting to a Linux Live CD and see if you can read any of the files and back them up. – jmreicha Apr 14 '12 at 14:08

I realize this is late to the party.

If you can get into safe mode and a command prompt, then following this website's instructions, you could type

 chkntfs /x c: d:

This assumes that you want to disable CHKDSK on both the C and D drives.

The Chkntfs.exe utility has been developed by Microsoft and is available in Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 2 and later versions of Windows. It is designed to disable the automatic running of chkdsk on specific volumes, when Windows restarts from an improper shutdown. Chkntfs can also be used to unschedule a chkdsk if chkdsk /f was used to schedule a chkdsk on an active volume on the next system restart.

For more information, see https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/160963.


For those who want to disable check disk at boot time, the correct command is

chkntfs /x c: d:

This disables check disk on the C: and D: drives.

  • 1
    This is the same information as mac389's answer. As a Q&A site, the intention is that each answer provide a substantially different solution than what has already been contributed. – fixer1234 Oct 12 '16 at 19:15
  • Welcome to Super User! This duplicates another answer and adds no new content. Please don't post an answer unless you actually have something new to contribute. – DavidPostill Oct 13 '16 at 8:31

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