Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Chkdsk will run on boot if the system has detected problems with your hard disk. If it fails the problem may be serious and can result in instability.
I have an HP computer which is running Windows XP, and to my knowledge has been kept fully up to date. However recently its done a lot of strange things. The first thing I noticed is when I switch my computer on, it comes up with a blue screen saying it has to run a check for consistency (I can not remember the exact wording of the message unfortunately). It runs through three steps to do this, however, before it is complete it experiences an error. It attempts to fix it, however there it freezes, and I'm forced to restart.
If I choose to skip this check (which I have to, if I'm to actually log in) I experience a lot of other problems, which I suspect are in some way related. The computer runs incredibly slowly, and can only run two or three programs at once before it crashes entirely, and I am forced to restart. This can happen several times a day. I am unable to upload certain files to the internet or send them in e-mails (for instance, I have been unable to upload certain video files). I also am having problems with programs such as Jasc Paint Shop Pro. It appeared to be unaffected until more recently, when I opened it up to discover all the toolbars missing and all keyboard shortcuts removed. I was able to put them back in place easily enough, however when I closed the program and opened it again later, the keyboard shortcuts had once again disappeared (interestingly enough, the toolbars hadn't moved this time). Last but not least, whenever I attempt to play the online game "Guild Wars", it doesn't allow me to log in, saying that it was unable to "connect to the login server."
All these problems (with the possible exception of the disappearing keyboard shortcuts) started occurring the same time. I have ran numerous antivirus scans, which have revealed nothing. Frankly, I'm at a complete loss, and would be most grateful if you could tell me what is causing this, and how do I fix it?
That's a long litany of problems. I left it intact just to show how many different things might well result from a single problem.
And, yes, I have a suspicion as to what might be going on.
One clue: before you do anything else, I recommend you backup all your data.
I'll bet that the blue screen you see checking something starts like this:
Checking file system on C:
The type of the file system is NTFS.
A disk check has been scheduled.
Windows will now check the disk.
In other words, it sounds like your system is attempting to run CHKDSK, the disk checking utility.
And apparently it's failing.
Based on that, the other random set of symptoms you're experiencing, as well as their sudden simultaneous onset, I'm guessing that your hard drive is either dying, or it has some serious issues.
Here's what I would do in your shoes:
Backup your data. Before I'd try to repair the hard drive, my first step would be to copy off all the data I wanted to save. Now, if it's crashing as much as you say it is, this could be difficult. But it's important enough to give it a good try. I'd copy the data to another computer on my local network, or if I couldn't do that I would try to burn what I cared about to CD or DVD backup material. In my case, since I already run regular backups, I might actually get away with doing nothing if all my data has already been preserved elsewhere that way.
The point here is that subsequent steps could result in losing some data. It's worth trying to save it first.
Run CHKDSK from the recovery console. More specifically I'd boot into the recovery console, which should be an option if booting from your Windows CD or perhaps from the manufacturer's recovery CDs. From there I'd run CHKDSK /R. "/R" instructs CHKDSK to attempt to locate any problems on the hard disk surface and repair or recover them. If this completes (and it may not, since it's very similar to the CHKDSK you're seeing on boot), I'd then check to see if the problems had been resolved.
If it did not complete or if it did not resolve the problems, then I believe I'm left with two options:
A: Reformat or replace the drive which I'll talk about in a second.
B: Purchase and run SpinRite.
SpinRite is a hard disk recovery tool that locates and repairs bad sectors on hard drives, while doing everything possible to recover the data on that drive. SpinRite is the kind of tool that you might let run for hours, or even days, as it attempts to repair and recover. But the success stories are pretty amazing - systems in much worse shape than yours have been brought back to life.
If SpinRite works, which it frequently does, and my data is recovered, I then back it up immediately. SpinRite may very well be able to recover your data, but something caused your drive to fail in the first place. If that's a hardware issue, then that's not something that any software based tool is going to repair. So take the failure as a warning, and begin backing up your recovered data right away.
(As an aside: I've no affiliation with SpinRite, and I make nothing if you purchase it. I recommend it because as I write this, I honestly believe it's $89 well spent for these types of problems.)
If SpinRite's not an option, then my next step would be to Reformat the drive. Yes, that means losing everything on the drive. That's why I stressed backing up first. A full (not quick) format will write to every sector on the hard drive, and by re-initializing the hard disk surface as it does so can often repair errors on the disk. The error's gone, but then so's the data.
Formatting doesn't always work. In cases like this here's where I throw in the towel and buy a new drive. Naturally, similar to reformatting the drive, all the data on the original drive is lost.
In either the formatting or replacing scenario, you're obviously then faced with reinstalling Windows and all your applications from scratch, and then restoring any data that you backed up. That's one of the reasons I really like the SpinRite option: when it works, your data is retained.
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