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Scandisk & Defrag Pointers for Keeping a Well-Tuned PC
By Nannette Thacker - 06/7/2001

I think we can all agree that a developer needs a fine-tuned, well-running machine. By doing regularly scheduled maintenance to your development PC, you can avoid programming down-time. Yesterday my computer was performing sluggishly and I realized I was long overdue for a Defrag.

Prior to running Defrag on your computer, you should run a Scandisk to correct any drive errors. In Windows 98, (and this is likely similar in Windows 2000), go to your Desktop, open My Computer, right click on the drive on which you wish to run Scandisk, and then select Properties. A window will come up. Select the "Tools" tab.

The Error-checking status box will tell you when you last ran a Scandisk. Select the "Check Now" button. Another window will open. Select the "Thorough" radio button and the checkbox to "Automatically fix errors," then select the "Start" button.

I also noticed that when I ran a Scandisk from DOS, it found no errors. But when I ran it on the same drive from Windows, the Windows Scandisk version found and fixed several errors.

Once Scandisk has completed, select the "Defragment Now" button to begin the Defragmentation process.

It is important that you do not have any applications open and are not using your PC while you are running these tools, as they won't be able to complete and will keep restarting the process. Run these during evenings or times you won't need to be working on your PC.

Unfortunately, when I ran Scandisk on my C: drive, it kept restarting and I eventually got the message that Scandisk had restarted 10 times due to another application writing to the hard drive.

I had shut down every application, closed everything in my task bar, and even shut down my network, but still I kept getting this error. I decided to bypass the Scandisk and go straight to the Defrag, but it would never get past 0% completion while checking for errors.

If this problem ever happens to you, here's what I found out to fix it.

Do a Restart or Shutdown and Restart (I prefer a Shutdown so I can do a clean boot), and while restarting, hold down the F8 key. This will bring up a DOS option to boot Windows in Safe Mode. Select the Safe Mode. Your PC will now open with no applications running in the background.

Follow the same instructions above for running Scandisk and Defrag. Now both should successfully complete on Drive C.


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