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Two part question: 1) Difference between CHKDSK and ScanDisk. 2) is there a better version of CHKDSK made?

Posted on 2006-10-22
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In trying to repair a drive I've been trying to figure out what's better to use CHKDSK or Scandisk.  Is one a subset of the other? Or, do the two do basically the same funtion?  I can't seem to find much documentation on CHKDSK and nearly nothing on Scandisk.

Also, is there a "better" version of either of the utilities -- a non-Microsoft version?

Thanks!
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Question by:CraigSNYC
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by:garycase
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The newer version of Microsoft's disk checking utility (included with XP) is Chkdsk.   Scandisk was the utility used with DOS and Windows 98.   If you want to see the various options available with Chkdsk, just open a command window [Start - Run - Cmd] and type "chkdsk /?"

Note that chkdsk will "repair" FILE problems ... but NOT physical disk errors.   HOWEVER ... since it WRITES to the drive, it can make recovery more difficult if your problem has been caused by a physically bad sector on the drive.   If you're just trying to repair a drive, that's fine;  but if there's critical data you need to recover, I'd use a more sophisticated data recovery tool before running Chkdsk.

The best utility to actually recover failed sectors (if possible) is Spinrite (not free) from http://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm

The best file recovery tools (they work in a "Safe" manner --> NO writes to the disk they're working on) are GetDataBack (http://www.runtime.org/gdb.htm) and Easy Recovery (http://www.ontrack.com/easyrecoverylite/)
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by:garycase
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... another recovery program that's beginning to get a pretty good reputation (I have not used this one -- I have used the two above) is http://www.stellarinfo.com/disk-recovery.htm
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by:CraigSNYC
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When you run scan disk via the Windows GUI is it actually running CHKDSK?  this is the question i couldn't find the answer to anywhere.
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by:garycase
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Assuming you're referring to the error checking option on the Tools tab of disk properties ... then Yes.   It actually doesn't run it from the GUI if it's the system drive ==> it will schedule it to run on the next reboot.   If you're referring to something else, note the details of EXACTLY how you run it [click Start, select ...].
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by:garycase
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... it is a bit confusing, however, since the original DOS disk checking utility was called Chkdsk;  then it was replaced with Scandisk; and then they reverted to "chkdsk"  (which is, of course, a much-different program than the original "chkdsk").
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by:garycase
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If I recall correctly, Scandisk was first added in DOS v6 as an alternative to chkdsk ... and then was used in the Win9X OS's.   But with NT and XP your only option is chkdsk.

The new chkdsk is, however, a LOT different than that of DOS days ...

For example, a "chkdsk /?" in DOS 6.2 yields these options:

CHKDSK [drive:][[path]filename] [/F] [/V]                                      
                                                                               
  [drive:][path]  Specifies the drive and directory to check.                  
  filename        Specifies the file(s) to check for fragmentation.            
  /F              Fixes errors on the disk.                                    
  /V              Displays the full path and name of every file on the disk.  
                                                                               
... if you do the same thing in XP you'll see a much longer list of options [/F /V /R /L:size /X /I /C]


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by:CraigSNYC
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i'm familiar with the switches associated with chkdsk, so you don't need to explain that.  sometimes i places a failing drive on a system as a slave, or via a usb connection and run SCANDISK on it, via the tools tab on the property sheet.  so, scandisk still is around.  
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by:garycase
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The "Error-checking" selection on the Tools tab is not the same as "Scandisk".   Scandisk is NOT available in XP :-)   ... although you didn't mention what OS you're actually using ==> are you using a 9X OS ??

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by:CraigSNYC
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win xp.  

okay, so "error checking" uses chkdsk?
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Yes, but with the most basic options.   Running chkdsk from the command prompt (or the Recovery Console) does a more thorough test ... but cannot test the system drive (except from the Recovery Console) => if you do it from a command prompt it will schedule it to happen on the next reboot.
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