How to Check Windows XP Hard Disk Condition

The Check Disk Utility (also called "CHKDSK") is a diagnostic and repair tool. It is an integral part of the Windows XP operating system. If your hard drive is malfunctioning, use this utility to troubleshoot and fix errors on the drive. You might still be able to use the drive, but if it is damaged, it’s only a matter of time before it fails. Use the reports produced by the Check Disk utility to prepare for that eventuality.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer running Windows XP


  1. Run CHKDSK Without Fixing Errors

    • 1

      Run the CHKDSK utililty without fixing errors to simply check the health of your hard drive.
      Click the Windows "Start" button on your desktop and choose "Run." Type "cmd" in the text box. Click "OK." The DOS screen opens.

    • 2

      Accept the default settings or change the directory for checking your hard disk by typing "cd \" and pressing "Enter" to go to the top level of the "C:" drive.

    • 3

      Run CHKDSK on a different drive by typing "D:" or "E:" to check those drives, or substitute the letter of the drive you want to check. Press "Enter."

    • 4

      Type "chkdsk" without quotes and press "Enter." The specified drive will be examined.

    Run CHKDSK and Fix Errors

    • 1

      Run CHKDSK and let Windows fix errors automatically if any are detected on the drive. First, back up your files and then run this program in Safe mode. This may take an hour or more, depending on the size of your drive and the speed of your computer. At the CHKDSK screen, type "chkdsk/f" without the quotes and press "Enter."

    • 2

      Lock the drive that you've directed CHKDSK to scan. Type "lock C:" without the quotes and press "Enter." Replace the "C:" with the appropriate letter if you are checking a different drive.

    • 3

      Respond to the error message, if Windows displays one, indicating that the drive you want to check is not locked. The message will read "...cannot perform check because the disk is currently in use by other programs, the volume needs to dismounted first...". Press "Y" to confirm that you want to unmount the drive. CHKDSK will lock and close all processes on that drive.

Tips & Warnings

  • This procedure is for experienced users only. If Windows detects problems on your drive, take the unit to a repair shop.
  • Avoid using CHKDSK-type utilities other than the native one installed with Windows. These programs are error-prone and may cause further damage to a malfunctioning disk drive.
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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

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