chkdsk /f stops at 46% and "Windows cannot complete disk check" in XP : How can I fix a 120 Gb external drive?? 500 pts.


I'm not all that technical, so please assume there is no end to my ignorance.

The Immediate Problem:

I have this (finicky) Iomega 120 Gb USB/Firewire external drive. For some reason, unknown to me, it has decided to become a FAT 32 disk, although I could swear I formatted it NFTS. No matter, if it wants to be FAT, let it be FAT.

The problem is chkdsk (no /f) complains endlessly that the filenames are too long, and then chkdsk /f stops at 46% (or no percent when it finds and evidently fixes a slew of files) over and over and over again.

It seems to be making incremental progress through the files on he drive, as I recognize new folder names when they're given and I don't see any repetition.

The Windows XP equivalent to chkdsk in Computer Managment Tools to check the disk and fix file names returns the error message "Windows cannot complete disk check" when the progress bar reaches what seems like about 46%.

How can I fix this external drive?? Is there a setting somewhere that will allow chkdsk/windows to do the job? Is there some software other than the command line or the XP interface that will get the whole job done?

The Larger Question:

I want to backup the 5 Gb or so I have on a newly installed system using Auto System Recovery, but this procedure repeatedly craps out around 1Gb. I believe it is the Iomega that suddenly stops being recognized by Windows at some point because after the message comes up saying the backup failed, the contents of the Iomega no longer show in MyComputer, until I do a reboot and unplug and replug  the thing's power cord.

These may well be separate and unrelated issues, except I don't know what to do about either of them, and my assumption is eliminate the file format problems, because they're there, then I can say that's not the cause of the backup failure and go from there.

Any light you can shine into this entomological cave will be greatly appreciated. ;-0


"I am but an egg."
--Stranger in a Strange Land

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Cyber-DudeConnect With a Mentor Commented:

Some background:

>it has decided to become a FAT 32 disk
It is a very important issue here; see, if you had your drive formatted the NTFS FS than it must imply you ran a 3rd party disk management utility of some sort. An FS cannot be degraded via Windows built-in software. Do you run any optimizers or any other disk management utilities? that is my first question.
Also, there are known issues regarding working an attached storage units while using different FS. Especialy between NTFS and FAT32.
>Too long filenames
is an implication that your MFT$ file, which includes all file names and data, may be corrupted thus not allowing any data integrity checker (i.e. chkdsk) finish the job. It may translate the corrupted data as a forign FS thus providing you with such messages OR it could be just a simple randum time fassion device failure where a driver or a controller may not work properly and we need to find out what exactly may cause that failure.

As for your bigger question;
I think that when we will solve the first issue here, it will influance the seccond issue thus allowing you to commit the backup procedure properly.

Proposed solutions:
Premium to all - Did you check all your drives to see if all of them are acting fine and no problems occure during disk check or normal behavior (an issue may suggest a malfunction IO handling)?
At first, verify that you have propper drivers connected to the device you currently own. If it is connected to a USB connector, try to see if you have an updated USB drivers (i.e. if you own a USB2 devices, Windows does not install the drivers automaticlly - and youed have to install those manually).
Secconlly, try to use 3rd party disk checkers which may scan your drive properly and safely.

Also; a good solution may include the 'DiskPart' utility within Windows to verify generic disk health:
1. Run 'diskpart' from the command prompt (Start => Run => cmd => diskpart => Enter)
2. Type 'list' to view all the drives available.
3. Type 'select drive <drive #>'
4. Type 'detail drive' and checkout info. You will be able to see the drives status.

Some links:
What is exactly the MFT$ file (Your drive indeed is a FAAT32 as you descibed but the reason for this is that you mentioned that the drive was NTFS FS):
A nice checking utility may help you (though Im not so sure):
A great diagnostic utility using the S.M.A.R.T technology (Freeware):

Im here if you need more help;

nobusConnect With a Mentor Commented:
For the fixing of the external drive, you have several options.Your first thing to do would be a backup of the data on it, then :
1 - you can try to partition/format it from within XP by right cliking it and selecting the proper command, or type diskmgmt.msc in the run box, select your drive by rightclicking the space, and execute the wanted command
2 - you can take the drive out of the external box, and hook it up on your system, and proceed with partitioning and formatting (even backup can be done here)

For the backup question , i never use the auto system recovery, but do it by hand :
I setup a directory that will contain everything i want to backup, and give it a meaningful name, like Back9oct04
Then i copy all the files i want to backup into it, mostly it is simply the contents of the "my documents" folder
Then i make in it an internet directory, like inter, in which i copy all my settings from Outlook Express or outlook, (the oulook.pst file or the *.dbx files) I export my cookies and favourites into it, and that is it. Now all you have to do is copy this folder onto whatever media you use for backup.
stevenjsAuthor Commented:
Thank you, nobus, for sharing your procedures, which make sense and work for you.

However, I am looking for specific answers to my specific questions. The auto recovery feature works well enough backing up to a separate partition on the internal HDD, but having just gone through the trauma of a total HDD crash (and burn :-0) I do not trust this partition. I want it on the external (as well) and will ultimately burn it to a DVD for three way protection!

So, I here reiterate my questions re: chkdsk and the XP Auto System Recovery.

--Stranger in a Strange Land
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read the 2 first points, they answer the first question
shahrialConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Your problem might be with the Iomega 120GB USB/Firewire external drive. I had handled this failed hardware before.

The problem with file transfers to the iomega are documented on several forums which discuss firewire/USB connections and sbp2port.sys issues. There are problems with the size of data transfers to the drive, if it is too big, it will timed out eventually and the iomega dropped off the system. A workaround for the connection problem was done by running a small utility - Total Copy - that controls the transmissions between the pc and the disk, limiting the size of data package going through the interface. The file transfer interupted basically means you have to switch off the drive and start again, right.

You can download Total Copy here (for free):,fid,23385,00.asp

From Iomega the warranty won't get void by getting a 'data recovery company' or 'yourself' to try to recover the data by plugging the disk into another PC (internal). I took the disk out of the casing and it's a Hitachi Deskstar. I changed the jumpers and put it into a desktop and it was able to run properly (interface fault as diagnosed above) without any problem to the drive, all data safely recovered. Later is was sent to Iomega for a one-to-one change.

It might be a hardware-related problem (USB/Firewire interface or driver) rather that an OS problem.
Check it out...;-)
stevenjsAuthor Commented:
Nobus, the first question is how to run chkdsk /f once for the whole drive, instead of over and over a million times, and fix the "long folder name" whatever that chkdsk wants to fix for FAT 32. Is there no "utility" out there that does what chkdsk does only better? (better in this case meaning /fix the whole drive in one sweep?)

The question is not how to backup the drive and reformat it, or how to work around the problem. The Iomega *is* my backup drive, I have nothing to back it up to.

Shahrial, thank you for shedding light on the known (and now known to me ;-) failings of the Iomega. I would like to keep it as external/USB, however, and I don't really have the confidence of taking it apart and putting it back together without ruining something.

But if Total Copy does the trick, you have indeed answered the second question. I'll give it a try and let you know.


"I am but an egg."

Ok, stevenjs, sorry about the misunderstanding. You can try the following (if you did not yet):

and this one looks promising :

Also, in  Norton systemworks, there is a tool doing that.
I've been looking for an equivalent tool, but found nothing yet
stevenjsAuthor Commented:
Okay, Cyber-Dude, now your're talking.

Yes, I upgraded to USB 2 and installed custom drivers. That is the cause of all this???

So, in light of this fact, what should I do (please keep it simple, I'm not all that "technical" ;-).

And yes, the floppy drive does not want to format anything ("Windows was unable to complete the format."), and worse it keeps giving an error message that the drive door is open (it isn't!) though after some struggle with recurring error messages iit seems able to read the files on a formatted disk.

What is going on?????

The HDD seems fine though (thank god!) The links you provide are to "3rd party disk checkers" that you suggest I try?

Please tell me what to do, step by step, what you would do to stabilize everything. ;-0


--Stranger in a Strange Land
stevenjsAuthor Commented:
I did not run any 3rd party "optimizers" on the Iomega external drive. Only chkdsk.

I have downloaded and installed the two disk checking apps you recommended. They say the Iomega is FAT 32 as did the chkdsk. The diskChecker app says everything's fine with the Iomega.

The only problem seems to be "Windows is unable to format the disk." with the floppy drive.


Can you tell me what is going on?

"I am but an egg."

Now we are getting somewhere;

Did you notice whan the problems started to appear (i.e. prior the installation of SP2 or after, after the installation od xxxx device drivers or just happened)?

Also, I know there are many heatting issues as well; can you locate the drive into a cooler spot than try to backup once again?

One more thing to take in-mind;
You should not allow the system to run a repair utility on the drive (such as Scandisk / Chkdsk / Norton etc) - this can often render recoverable data unrecoverable.

I want to verify a few things refferring backup issues before we continue...

stevenjsAuthor Commented:
Wait, no SP2, wouldn't touch it, conflicts with too much of my software. Forget about that.

Forget about backing up, too, all that is resolved.

I noticed no problem, until I ran chkdsk (no /f) and saw this huge display of "nonvalid long folder" whatever's piling down the screen, so I ran chkdsk /f and found it ran a brief while, then stopped, over and over I did this, then came to this forum with the chkdsk problem.

I am no longer concerned about that right now, for reasons I'll go into later.

Right now I'm concerned that the upgrade to USB 2 may have started some problems. Specifically, I cannot format a floppy. Even a floppy I formatted previously. The message reads "Windows was unable to complete the format." That is the problem. Any ideas on that?

Basically, I'm going to move the data and reformat the Iomega as NFTS. So let's focus on the floppy problem. Thanks.


--Stranger in a Strange Land
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