Speed Up Your Computer, Part 3
Paul Watson, PC Technician Wednesday, June 16th 2010
Getting Rid Of Broken Files With Error Checking
We all make mistakes, and “we” includes computers. Corrupted files aren’t so much mistakes as they are accidents. Sometimes, files don’t get written properly, or the area of the disk they’re written to is of questionable value. A bad disk sector is the computer equivalent of a pothole in the road. The end result of these potholes is that information may get written there, and later, the computer is unable to read it.
The Error Checking utility is designed to find these worthless disk sectors and lock them out, so the computer doesn’t make the mistake of writing to them again. Although this activity takes a bit of time, it saves time and aggravation in the long run because the computer is able to avoid the potholes that would slow it down.
The Error Checking utility is another built-in utility from Microsoft. You can run the Error Checking utility on any disk but you’ll definitely want to run it on your C:\ drive. To run the Error Checking utility. Before you start your scan, you’ll need to close all open files and quit any running applications.
In the My Computer window, right-click the hard disk you want to scan, and choose Properties > Tools. Choose Check Now.
Select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box, and then click Start. You can also check “Automatically fix file system errors” though some users prefer to have the computer identify bad sectors first, then go back to fix them on a second pass. Once a disk sector is bad, it’s bad. Windows will try to recover the information from the bad sector, but this isn’t always possible. Error checking typically results in a few unusable files, but keep in mind that Error Checking didn’t cause the problem; it’s just letting you know that something less-than-optimal happened.
You can restore corrupted files from a backup, if you make them (that’s a different post for a different day), and system files that have gone bad can be restored by Windows. Marking bad disk sectors, however, will help prevent slow computer performance and computer crashes.
Photo Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives, via Flickr