chkdsk on XP when I have a problem with the C:\Documents and Settings\myusername directory

Posted on 2010-09-01
Last Modified: 2012-05-10

There are various reasons why I know I have a problem with my hard drive (various programs have different kinds of read/write problems, and sometimes I get explicit errors about the hard drive). I clearly need to run chkdsk /f. I know that I should back up all my data before doing this (and I have) but it is still going to be a pain if I have to restore it all.

One directory I know has a problem is C:\Documents and Settings\myusername - if I try and look at it in windows explorer I get an "access denied". I can still access all the subfolders (otherwise I wouldn't still be able to use my data!), but not by drilling down from C:\Documents and Settings\myusername - I have to use shortcuts that go deeper in.

My question is this: what are the chances that the repair is going to wipe out all my data? Having a problem with the root of my userdirectory is making me nervous that it will get destroyed in the repair process.


Question by:amorphia78

Accepted Solution

mikesuss earned 63 total points
ID: 33577189
I would IMMEDIATELY copy files to another drive.

If you can not, do NOT use chkdsk, use something non-destructive like SpinRite (

LVL 65

Assisted Solution

rockiroads earned 63 total points
ID: 33577242
there is always a chance and regardless of how small or big the chance is, it is data you could lose. it might put things in lost and found but that might not be that great as a recovery.

are you able to go into safemode and then into that directory? or logged in as an administrator then try that way?
LVL 18

Assisted Solution

Cluskitt earned 125 total points
ID: 33577248
Losing data in any repair is always a chance. You could create an image of the disk first (I'm assuming your drive errors are logical ones, not mechanical. If they're mechanical then chkdsk will do nothing). If any data is lost, you can try to recover it later.
Also, to backup data that you can't access with Windows, just use a live CD, like ubuntu, and save it to a flash drive or something.
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Assisted Solution

askpcguy909 earned 63 total points
ID: 33577270
Have you tried creating a new user account and logging in to that account then trying to browse your old user account's profile folder?  If the files you access in that folder and sub-folder are intact, chances are the problem is only that one folder.  Chkdsk can repair it but as always have a complete data backup before running CHKDSK.

I could recommend something similar to Norton Ghost to create an image file of your entire partition / drive saved to an external USB drive.
LVL 88

Assisted Solution

rindi earned 62 total points
ID: 33577614
If your filesystem is NTFS, chkdsk doesn't cause data-loss (except the data already is corrupt). NTFS is a filesystem that uses a transaction log, and chkdsk uses these transaction logs to keep the filesystem healthy or to repair it and also repair corrupt files from those logs. It'll remove files which it can't repair. So when you loose data through chkdsk, that data was bad already before running the tool. This is totally different with a FAT filesystem, which has no logs so there chkdsk usually will cause more harm.

You should run the HD manufacturer's Diagnostic utility on it, which will tell you whether it should be replaced, and if the errors aren't too many or serious, it can often also "repair" them. Running a chkdsk /x after that will often help. You'll find the manufacturer's diagnostic tools, among other fine, free tools, on the UBCD:
LVL 18

Assisted Solution

Cluskitt earned 125 total points
ID: 33577657
Actually, having a corrupt of malfunctioning $MFT will cause chkdsk to lose data, when it was still occasionally available before (or fully available using a live CD).
LVL 14

Assisted Solution

by:William Fulks
William Fulks earned 62 total points
ID: 33580409
One thing you can do is download a bootable Linux ISO and then burn it to a DVD and boot from that DVD. From there, you can browse your hard drive and not worry about all that broken Windows security stuff. It should hopefully at least let you get to your files so you can back them up to a thumb drive or something similiar. Sounds like you got some data corruption, or a corrupt user profile.

Assisted Solution

Tlingit earned 62 total points
ID: 33582416
I would first try using Diskeeper to fix this problem.  This program will defrag your hard drive, buffer your MFT file to protect it from fragmenting, perform a boot defrag along with checking your hard disk for any errors and paging files.  You can also set your paging files.  If it does find hard disk errors during the boot-time defrag, depending on how bad they are, it could fix the errors, but as to everything in life there are no gaurantees.

If you do go this route, you should back everything up.

Good luck

Author Comment

ID: 33590616
Thanks a lot for all your advice folks. I'm putting this isssue on hold till after the weekend but I'll be back...

Author Closing Comment

ID: 33660542
No one said anything stupid as far as I can see so I'm awarding points to all! I have not dared to run any repair yet...

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