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Microsoft Talks About Fixing Disk Problems in Windows 8

By - Source: Windows 8 | B 49 comments

Windows 8 will have less downtime due to file system corruptions thanks to a revised chkdsk utility and a revamped NTFS health model.

In the latest Building Windows 8 blog, Kiran Bangalore, Senior Program Manager of Microsoft's Windows Core Storage and File Systems, said that one of the key design goals for Windows 8 was to increase availability and reduce the overall down-time of systems. This design feature, along with other storage features such as Storage Spaces and the new ReFS file system, will help reduce the complexity of fixing corruptions and increase the overall availability of the entire system.

In other words, less downtime due to file system corruptions thanks to a redesigned chkdsk utility and a revamped NTFS health model.

In previous versions of Windows, the NTFS used a simpler health model: the file system was either healthy or in bad shape. This model meant users typically had to stop what they were doing and wait for chkdsk to take the disk offline, fix the file system corruptions and bring the volume back to a healthy state. The bigger the problem, the longer the system was offline. The process could take seconds, or last for hours.

"In Windows Vista and Windows 7, we made significant optimizations to the speed of chkdsk, but as hard disk capacities have continued to double every 18 months and the number of files per volume is increasing at an equal rate, chkdsk has taken longer and longer to complete (even with speed improvements)," Bangalore writes.

To speed up the process, Microsoft has revamped the health model used by NTFS and introduced the ReFS file system in Windows 8 which does not require an offline ChkDsk to repair annoying corruptions.

"We developed a new method of communication that describes types of corruptions as 'verbs' that act upon the key components and points of the design – the file system driver (NTFS), the self-healing module, the spot-verification service, and the chkdsk utility," Bangalore continues. "All file system corruptions are classified as needing one of 18 different 'verbs' that we’ve defined in Windows 8. We have also left room for possible new verb definitions that can help us diagnose issues even better in the future."

Bangalore said that Windows 8 can scan for problems in the background while the system remains online, and will make an initial attempt to fix problems on-the-fly. If the initial fix doesn't resolve the issue, then NTFS logs the details, how the repair must be done, and stores the info away until the system is restarted. This way, the process won't take quite so long after boot.

"The downtime from this operation, called 'Spotfix,' takes only seconds, and on Windows Server 8 systems with cluster shared volumes, we've eliminated this downtime completely. With this new model, chkdsk offline run time is now directly proportional to the number of corruptions, rather than being proportional to the number of files as in the old model," Bangalore says.

Also in the blog is a Q&A explaining that the new health model will be enabled by default and work with removable drives that report fixed media. Consumers can also move between Windows 8 and Windows 7 and not affect the file system health model -- the file system health model will adapt to whichever operating system version it is mounted on. The Q&A also states that ReFS follows a different model for resiliency and does not need to run the traditional chkdsk utility.

For more information about the new NTFS health model and the redesigned Chkdsk utility, head here.

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Top Comments
  • 27 Hide
    killerclick , May 11, 2012 4:14 PM
    Call me when Microsoft fixes Metro... by allowing PC users to disable it completely.
  • 20 Hide
    halcyon , May 11, 2012 4:27 PM
    I kind of wish the title said, "Microsoft Talks About Removing Metro UI in Windows 8" ...that's where my mind went as soon as I saw the words "Microsoft" and "Windows 8".

    Funny how the mind works.
  • 18 Hide
    gmarsack , May 11, 2012 4:46 PM
    Does anyone remember WinFS? This was suppose to be the end-all-be-all file system... right up until it got cancelled by Microsoft. Glad to see MS is still working to improve the filesystem, which needs some much needed love.
Other Comments
  • 27 Hide
    killerclick , May 11, 2012 4:14 PM
    Call me when Microsoft fixes Metro... by allowing PC users to disable it completely.
  • 7 Hide
    kawininjazx , May 11, 2012 4:15 PM
    How to fix a computer: chkdsk /r
  • 20 Hide
    halcyon , May 11, 2012 4:27 PM
    I kind of wish the title said, "Microsoft Talks About Removing Metro UI in Windows 8" ...that's where my mind went as soon as I saw the words "Microsoft" and "Windows 8".

    Funny how the mind works.
  • 14 Hide
    JackNaylorPE , May 11, 2012 4:29 PM
    Improved NTFS ..... hmmmm ....... was supposed to be part of Windows 5.0

    How about recognizing the existence of SSD's and when both a HD and SSD are detected, after Windows is done installing, launch a wizard for partitioning the HD and putting Program Files and User Files on HD partitions ?
  • -2 Hide
    halcyon , May 11, 2012 4:34 PM
    JackNaylorPEImproved NTFS ..... hmmmm ....... was supposed to be part of Windows 5.0How about recognizing the existence of SSD's and when both a HD and SSD are detected, after Windows is done installing, launch a wizard for partitioning the HD and putting Program Files and User Files on HD partitions ?

    Somehow I don't think the majority of people that will be using Windows 8 with both an SSD and an HDD would appreciate such a wizard. ...that sounds like something geared more towards the enthusiast...and we're just not that big of an audience.
  • 5 Hide
    gogogadgetliver , May 11, 2012 4:43 PM
    JackNaylorPEImproved NTFS ..... hmmmm ....... was supposed to be part of Windows 5.0How about recognizing the existence of SSD's and when both a HD and SSD are detected, after Windows is done installing, launch a wizard for partitioning the HD and putting Program Files and User Files on HD partitions ?


    MKLink with the /J switch is your friend.
  • 18 Hide
    gmarsack , May 11, 2012 4:46 PM
    Does anyone remember WinFS? This was suppose to be the end-all-be-all file system... right up until it got cancelled by Microsoft. Glad to see MS is still working to improve the filesystem, which needs some much needed love.
  • 2 Hide
    jhansonxi , May 11, 2012 4:51 PM
    Just splitting the drive into multiple partitions can greatly limit damage since corruption rarely crosses partition boundaries. When does affect multiple partitions, it's probably something severe enough that chkdsk isn't going to fix (like a head crash).
  • -2 Hide
    upgrade_1977 , May 11, 2012 4:51 PM
    Doesn't matter, nobody is buying it without the start button. LOL
  • -1 Hide
    halcyon , May 11, 2012 4:56 PM
    jhansonxiJust splitting the drive into multiple partitions can greatly limit damage since corruption rarely crosses partition boundaries. When does affect multiple partitions, it's probably something severe enough that chkdsk isn't going to fix (like a head crash).

    I think having the ability to do this would be good. ...but I think it'd be better received as a command-line utility, like...oh...I don't know...something along the lines of:

    "OSpart /v /t /-5"
  • 1 Hide
    pedro_mann , May 11, 2012 5:04 PM
    Another example of how Win8 is completely awesome. But, who cares, the user interface completely sucks.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , May 11, 2012 5:48 PM
    why they are not using Ext4 i heard that its the one of the best file system
  • 13 Hide
    aicom , May 11, 2012 5:49 PM
    JackNaylorPEImproved NTFS ..... hmmmm ....... was supposed to be part of Windows 5.0How about recognizing the existence of SSD's and when both a HD and SSD are detected, after Windows is done installing, launch a wizard for partitioning the HD and putting Program Files and User Files on HD partitions ?


    You realize Windows 5.0 was Windows 2000 right? Win2k did come with the listed FS improvements, debuting NTFS 3.0 with "disk quotas, encryption, sparse files, reparse points, update sequence number (USN) journaling, the $Extend folder and its files, and reorganized security descriptors so that multiple files using the same security setting can share the same descriptor" (from Wikipedia). The Windows 8 defragmenter can TRIM SSDs while defragmenting hard drives which I find pretty cool.
  • -4 Hide
    jnemesh , May 11, 2012 5:51 PM
    Now...if they could only "fix" the problem with the UI! Get rid of Metro and I MIGHT consider upgrading...as it stands now, I will either stick with Windows 7 or just stick a fork in it and move to Ubuntu! Good job MS! You FINALLY convinced me to abandon your platform!
  • 1 Hide
    sivaseemakurthi , May 11, 2012 5:52 PM
    Just had hands on experience on Windows8 in my company Lab and I can confidently say that it sucks. MS is doing a big mistake with Metro UI. They should have restricted it to phones and tablets.
  • 8 Hide
    gogogadgetliver , May 11, 2012 6:05 PM
    Digging the UI here. Do not think of metro as the new desktop. It's not. It's the new start menu. The desktop is exactly the same as it was in Windows 7...it's just missing the start button obviously (since that's metro now)

    I'm already starting to get pretty fast with it on the laptop. Looking forward to running it on one of my power machines. It apparently does multimon very well with taskbar for each monitor and other such things.
  • 7 Hide
    Christopher1 , May 11, 2012 6:21 PM
    gogogadgetliverDigging the UI here. Do not think of metro as the new desktop. It's not. It's the new start menu. The desktop is exactly the same as it was in Windows 7...it's just missing the start button obviously (since that's metro now)


    Thank you, finally someone gets it. Metro is NOT the new desktop, it is the new start menu, a full-screen one at that. Easy enough to click on the link in Metro (you will have it "Pinned to Start" if you are smart) and get to the actual desktop.
  • 3 Hide
    Christopher1 , May 11, 2012 6:23 PM
    jhansonxiJust splitting the drive into multiple partitions can greatly limit damage since corruption rarely crosses partition boundaries. When does affect multiple partitions, it's probably something severe enough that chkdsk isn't going to fix (like a head crash).


    True, however most people don't want to 'juggle' multiple partitions with multiple drive letters. They want ONE partition with ONE drive letter.
  • 2 Hide
    blazorthon , May 11, 2012 6:26 PM
    halcyonSomehow I don't think the majority of people that will be using Windows 8 with both an SSD and an HDD would appreciate such a wizard. ...that sounds like something geared more towards the enthusiast...and we're just not that big of an audience.


    Enthusiasts are a big enough group to get hardware such as some graphics cards, high end motherboards, and some high end processors made just because we buy them, in addition to software packages designed for us to use, such as overclocking utilities.

    jnemeshNow...if they could only "fix" the problem with the UI! Get rid of Metro and I MIGHT consider upgrading...as it stands now, I will either stick with Windows 7 or just stick a fork in it and move to Ubuntu! Good job MS! You FINALLY convinced me to abandon your platform!


    You could abandon Windows, or you could just do a two minute work around instead of over-reacting. Metro is not difficult to work-around at all.
  • -7 Hide
    theoneknownasnalyd , May 11, 2012 6:49 PM
    [quote Metro was not difficult to work-around at all.[/quote]

    There, fixed it! M$ removed the ability to change the Metro interface Registry Key. There is no way to completely disable Metro and go back to the Windows 7/Vista start menu. Stardock has created a Metro themed Start Menu, however that doesn't do enough to remove the secondary interface. While Metro is a new Start Menu, there are Metro apps, some of which do not have a Classic interface counterpart. To jnemesh: embrace the Penguin (Linux), you won't regret it (at least until you try to game, but that'll change soon if Valve succeeds in porting Steam and the Source Engine)!
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