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Cannot operate scandisk.

Rob3rto asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-28
Hi, I bought my tower a year ago, I tried to perform scandisk a couple of times, but it wouldn't work. Being a complete novice I didn't bother too much until I was told it is very important to scandisk and defrag. Obviously the system will not let me defrag because I can't scandisk first. I open up run, type scandisk, select either option it does the same thing whichever I choose. Above the progress bar I get the words, 'Checking file allocation tables', 1 bar appears eventually in the progress bar, then the words change to, 'Checking folders'.  After a minute or two it returns to 'Checking file allocation tables', until 1 bar appears in the progress indicator, then it changes to 'Checking folders'. It plays quite happily like this forever, but gets no further. Can you please help, and please no ' techy talk ' I WON'T understand..
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Top Expert 2009
Scandisk in Win9x/ME is notorious for not completing successfully in normal mode of the computer because any time that some sort of disk activity occurs from another program, it interrupts the disk scanning and the scan has to start over again.  One common way of getting around this is to run scandisk after booting the computer into Safe mode (hold down the Ctrl key as the computer boots up until you get a screen which says Windows Startup Menu, and then you can use your up and down arrows on the keyboard to choose Safe mode.)  There are other possible actions to take also.  See this Microsoft Knowledge Base article:

Err Msg: ScanDisk Has Restarted 10 Times Because Windows...

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Top Expert 2005
Running it in Safe Mode as suggested above will probably solve your problem, but you can also get the free ScanDefrag. It is the most advanced disk maintenance program there is. It runs Disk Cleanup, ScanDisk, and Disk Defragmenter.

It's easy to setup and use, and it can deal with problems like "drive's contents have changed: restarting...".

Get it and read about all the options it has that you can use. It is a small download.


First configure Disk Cleanup (tick all options), then ScanDisk (as suggested by ScanDefrag) and at last Disk Drefagmenter.

Click RUN and let the process finish. If the HDD is as messy as it sounds, it may take a while to finish the 3 processes, but be patient, it will pay back.

Can I just say that if you have never had to force a shutdown after a system freeze-up by pushing the power-off button on the front of the case in the year since you got your computer, then you are a very fortunate person ;-)

The blue-screen version of Scandisk with the yellow progress bar that normally runs after an unorthodox shutdown is doing exactly what the Windows version of Scandisk does, and will try to fix problems automatically.  Often you are not aware of what it has actually done, but you can usually find this out by opening the file C:\SCANDISK.LOG in Notepad.

IF the previous advice by LeeTutor about running Scandisk from Safe Mode doesn't work, then try the advice listed under the "Restart to a Command Prompt" section for  "Windows 98 or Windows 95", BUT i would suggest doing it as follows:

1. Repeatedly jab the F8 key as the system boots until you see a menu of Boot options
2. Arrow down to "Command Prompt Only" and press ENTER
3. The C:\> Prompt will quickly appear
4. Type the following commands and press the <Enter> key after each line:

    cd  windows
    cd command

5. The prompt should now show as  C:\WINDOWS>
6. Type the following command (observing the spaces) and press <Enter>:

    scandisk  c:  /checkonly

7. If that runs successfully, then you should see a summary which will tell you if there are any problems, and you can later look at SCANDISK.LOG in Notepad for the details.

The reason I have suggested running a check only to start with is because I have the same feeling as blue_zee in that scandisk might be finding and trying to repair a LOT of errors, hence the length of time it seems to be taking.  There are SOME errors that occasionally can cause problems if scandisk automatically fixes them.  Fortunately these instances are not really common, but you may want to ask about any errors before fixing them.  To be honest, the last problem I had with scandisk was about 75 scandisks ago, and it didn't cause problems that couldn't be sorted out quite easily ;-)


What capacity is your hard drive?

There are acknowledged issues in some circumstances if a drive is larger than 32 GB, BUT ONLY if you are running scandisk with the "Thorough" option set (ie. Surface Scan - which can take many hours):

I doubt this is an issue, but it's worth bearing in mind.


Thank you so very much for your input. I started to read the response from Lee Tutor, and a very large bell rang concerning other programmes running. I actually closed everything, using ' Cont. Alt. Del '. And the scandisk operated immediately. It finished relatively quickly as well, although Defrag took around 4 hours to complete.. Now my problem is,  I want to award Lee Tutor points for putting me on the right track, but believe Blue Zee and BillDll deserve points too, as I have copied the great advice given, and it may well be used in the future.  Can I share out points in this way.....???  A million thanks..
Top Expert 2005


Glad the problem is solved.

Thank you for your comments. Regarding your question, please read this:

More than one Expert helped solve my problem. What do I do?



Thank you Rob3rto.  Glad you managed to resolve the problem.

There is one other method you might wish to take save as a future reference.
The Ctrl + Alt + Del allows you to kill running programs, but there is a configuration utility provided with Windows 98 that allows you to de-select programs that are normally launched as you computer starts up.
Re-enabling them is just as easy.
This is covered in part (and with slight differences) on the page linked to from one of blue_zee's links, but here are the basic steps:

1. Right-Click Desktop > "Properties" and set "Screensaver" to "None"
2. Click "Apply" then OK to close the display properties
3. Start Menu > Run option > and type MSCONFIG > click OK
4. Open the "Startup" tab and UNTICK the programs you DON'T wish to have run at next boot
5. Click the "Apply" button, then the OK button
6. Say yes when prompted to reboot.

In general, ALL you should leave TICKED are ScanRegistry, System Tray, and TaskMonitor.
This is almost as good an alternative for ScanDisk and Defrag as "Safe Mode", but it is not quite as "clean" a start as Safe Mode gives you.
I tend to favour this method because:
(a) it works fine for me
(b) it doesn't mess about with the layout of my desktop icons and make my Start Menu huge again when I next reboot into "normal" Windows mode.

To re-enable the startups you disabled, just perform the reverse process.

If you always want to see the boot menu that is shown by pressing the F8 key during early boot, then open MSCONFIG's "general" tab and click the "Advanced" button.  You will there see a tick-box entitled "Show Startup Menu".  Tick this, Apply the changes, and reboot.  You will have the F8 boot menu on-screen for 30 seconds, after which it will just boot into Windows normally if you don't press the <Enter> key before then.  Prevent the startup screen from showing by just unticking the same box and rebooting.

File that info away safely for a future date.

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