CHKDSK in Windows 8: Improved self-healing and system up time

CHKDSK in Windows 8

Do you remember the last time you used CHKDSK? Remember how long it used to take for your PC to boot because of this utility? Now this is about to change — If you aren’t familiar with it, this is a Windows’ utility that helps to check and/or repair data corruption (e.g., physical disc errors, bad sectors, cluster errors, etc.) –, CHKDSK in Windows 8 has been improved to support more self-healing scenarios, reducing system downtime and user intervention.

In a new post from the Building Windows 8 blog, Microsoft details how this utility is being redesigned in the upcoming release of the OS together with a new NTFS health model.

The company explains that one of the main reasons for the new changes is because hard drives are coming with bigger storage capacity in a rapid pace and the amount of files stored in them are increasing at the same rate. And even though, nowadays disk corruption is somewhat rare, this shouldn’t take a large amount of time and system downtime.

The graph below describes how CHKDSK and the NTFS health model was built to work “to ensure a coordinated, rapid, and transparent resolution to the corruption.”

Windows 8 CHKDSK and NTFS health model

During the “Online self-healing” process Windows 8 can handle many new online repair scenarios, significantly reducing the times for the need of CHKDSK. Also another service called “spot verification” has been added to operating system. “It is triggered by the file system driver and it verifies that there is actual corruption on the disk before moving the file system along in the health model. This new service runs in the background and does not affect the normal functioning of the system; it does nothing unless the file system driver triggers it to verify a corruption.” — Microsoft says.

Furthermore, if a scan needed to fix issues, now it can run during maintenance tasks, for example, when the PC is in idle state or in the background while other applications are running.

Microsoft also noted that volumes can be taken offline when required to fix previous logged corruptions. This action is called “Spotfix”, it should only take seconds and in many cases without the need of rebooting Windows (client), in Windows Server 8 with cluster shared volumes the downtime is eliminated. Also with the new model repairs should take a fraction of the time, because CHKDSK will run against the number of issues and not wastefully scan all files that was part of the old model.

Finally the new file system health model in Windows 8 is divided in to four states:

  • Online and healthy: No user intervention is required.
  • Online spot verification needed: Where corruption is verify, without user actions.
  • Online scan needed: A corruption has been confirmed, issue will be repair in the next maintenance task, the user is notified but no action is required.
  • Spot fix needed: Windows client PC is restarted and all issued logged previously are fix quickly during boot. Windows Server 8, don’t need to restart. Admins can just schedule a fix in the next maintenance task.

Watch the video to learn more:

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 15 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 21 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].