How to prepare for disk failures in Windows Vista

In this excerpt from Chapter 31 of the book "Windows Vista Resource Kit," examines how to troubleshoot disk-related problems before they occur.

Windows Vista  Resource Kit This chapter excerpt from the Windows Vista Resource Kit, by Mitch Tulloch, Tony Northrup and Jerry Honeycutt with the MSWinVista Team, is printed with permission from Microsoft Press, Copyright 2007.

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You can take several steps to prepare yourself—and your computers—for troubleshooting disk problems before the problems occur. First, familiarize yourself with recovery and troubleshooting tools. Use of disk redundancy lessens the impact of hardware failures. Backups ensure minimized data loss when failures occur. Protect yourself from malicious attacks using antivirus software. Finally, perform regular maintenance on your storage devices.

You should familiarize yourself with the System Recovery Tools, and have a Windows Vista DVD available to start the tools if the hard disks are not available. For more information, see Chapter 30.

Run "Chkdsk -f –r" regularly to fix file system problems that may appear because of faulty hardware, power failures, or software errors. Schedule downtime to reboot the computer and allow Autochk to resolve problems on boot and system volumes. Regularly review the Chkdsk output and the event log to identify problems that Chkdsk cannot fix.

For desktop computers that store critical, constantly updated data, use hardware disk redundancy (known as RAID) to allow computers to continue to function if a hard disk fails. Keep replacement disks on hand.

At a minimum, back up critical files nightly. Redundancy does not eliminate the need for backups. Even redundant file systems can fail, and disk redundancy cannot protect against files that are corrupted by an application. You must restore corrupted files from an archival backup created before the corruption occurred.

Viruses are a significant source of disk and file system problems. Follow these guidelines to avoid infecting computers with viruses:

  • Install a virus-detection program. Configure the virus-detection program to automatically retrieve updated virus signatures.
  • Use Windows Update to ensure that operating system files stay up-to-date.
  • Never run untrusted scripts or applications.

While fragmentation will not cause a hard disk to fail, it will cause performance problems. To avoid performance problems, schedule the Defrag command-line tool to run regularly during off-peak hours. Store the output of the Defrag tool to a text file, and review that text file regularly to ensure that defragmentation is performing as expected. To further minimize problems caused by fragmentation, ensure that all volumes have at least 15% free space available. For more information about using Defrag, see Chapter 15.

How to Troubleshoot Disk Problems in Microsoft Windows Vista

 How to prepare for disk failures
 How to use Chkdsk
 How to use the graphical Chkdsk interface
 How to determine whether Chkdsk is scheduled to run
 How to use the Disk Cleanup Wizard
 How to disable non-volatile caching

Reprinted with permission from Microsoft Press. From Windows Vista Resource Kit (ISBN:9780735622838) Microsoft Press. All rights reserved.

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