The two major flaws in file system error correction used in Windows 7 and earlier versions were an intrusive approach and the downtime caused by chkdsk. NTFS saw a file system volume as either healthy or not. If the state of a volume was inconsistent, it was taken offline for correcting errors and bringing it back to a consistent state. The time taken for repair could range from a few seconds to several hours. This indeed varied depending on the number of files currently on that volume. Further, as the hard disk capacities have exploded over these recent years, the downtime caused by chkdsk has continued to increase. To overcome these pitfalls, the new Windows 8 has completely redesigned the health model of NTFS and the way chkdsk repairs file system corruptions.
The three primary objectives for transforming the NTFS health model and chkdsk are given below:
- Reducing system downtime and improving availability
- Providing file system health status to the user or administrator
- Allowing the user or administrator to perform file system repair in a scheduled manner
Design Changes for Improving Availability
The following design changes have been made in Windows 8 to make sure your system always remain available:
The NTFS file system in Windows Vista was capable of resolving a few types of corruptions faced during normal use of the system. This was all done while being online. Windows 8 adds some more classes of corruption that can be fixed by NTFS without offline repair.
Windows 8 introduces a new service ‘spot verification service’ to verify if a corruption actually occurred on the disk. This is done to rule out any corruptions due to memory issues. The verification is performed behind the scenes to make sure your system remains unaffected.
Online Identification and Logging
In order to verify an issue, an online scan is run against the file system. Windows 8 assumes it as a maintenance task and schedules it to run when your computer is idle. This task can be run in the background without affecting the normal functioning of your system. The issues found during the scan are logged for later fix.
Precise and Rapid Correction
All the logged errors in the previous step are resolved by taking the volume offline at any convenient point of time, and then performing the required fixes. The downtime caused by this process is known as ‘Spotfix’, which is only a few seconds. This makes the chkdsk downtime dependent on the number of corruptions, rather than the number of files in the volume.
Features Ensuring Better Manageability
The get the user or administrator in control, Windows 8 introduces the following features to share the state of the file system:
Action Center tells the health of your hard drive via ‘Drive Status’. It also informs when doe the drive need a repair.
You can also view the health of your drive under ‘Drive Properties’ in Explorer.
You can check and repair your file system from a remote location through the ‘REPAIR-VOLUME’ cmdlet in PowerShell.
In Windows Server, the server manager utility allows management of the file system health.