SCANDISK crashes!!

OK, here’s a Windows question that I can’t find anywhere on the MS support site.

What can cause SCANDISK to up and crash? Such a simple utility run in DOS mode should be so robust that nothing could kill it.

I am running SCANDISK from a DOS prompt (I booted the system using the Windows startup disk). I have 3 hard disks on the system, and on one of them, SCANDISK crashes the system at the same point (i.e., showing the same % complete). This is highly repeatable. The disk contains only data, no programs, and seems to be fine when I access it normally.


IBM Aptiva AMD K6 300MHz, 128M memory
Windows 98SE 4.10.2222 A
Drive in question is a Maxtor 60G with about 2G free, configured as E:

A bit of a WAG here, but I thought you needed about 15% of free space to properly run Scandisk. If it is a 60 GB drive, with only 2 GB free, you might try moving about 8 GB to another drive an try again.

Not sure that is the problem, though, so that may not work. But if you have two other drives (with some free space), it shouldn’t be that hard to try.

Try Maxtor’s Powermax utility. It may be able to detect and repair problems with the drive.

DOS is (relatively) simple but it is not all that robust an OS. I would imagine that a substantial media defect on the platter could cause scandisk to crash if the drive R/W head cannot negotiate that portion of the disk. You might actually have better luck running Norton Disk Doctor under windows for this drive.

The only time Scandisk (and similar programs) have crashed for me in just MS-DOS mode was when there was a bad spot in the disk. If this is true in your case, the disk should be backed up, if possible, and replaced.

(I am astonished at how even “sophisticated” programs like NDD can’t recover from this. Isn’t this what they are in fact supposed to be looking for???)

Many thanks for the ideas. I did use PowerMax from Maxtor’s site and it told me that the drive has uncorrectable errors and must be replaced. Fortunately I am still within the 3-year warranty period (but it’s my biggest drive and I won’t be able to save ALL 60G of the data).

I still can’t understand why Maxtor can write a utility that checks out the drive (I was even able to use it on a non-Maxtor drive) and report errors, but SCANDISK just goes toes up if the drive has a bad spot.

WAG, there were no 60gig HD’s when SCANDISK was created?

I would still get a third party program to defrag & test first, you can find some at for shareware.

Most hard drive utilities from the hard drive manufacturers check the hard drive from a low level - it looks at the information stored in the chips on the drive, performs some low-level checks and drive performance tests. These utilities are designed to be fault-tolerant and work in conjunction with the circuitry on hard drive to determine exact problems - whether it is a mechanical or media issue, what kind of error codes are being stored by the drive’s diagnostic systems, translate those error codes to something useable by the technician or end-user, etc.

All scandisk does is compare the file system to the FAT table, making sure there aren’t any inconsistencies between what the FAT table says and what the file system actually shows, checks the boot sector/Master Boot Record to backups that have been put in a supposed inaccessible area of the drive, then do read/write tests to each of the sectors using basic DOS interrupts - if it can’t read/write to a sector of the hard drive and crashes, it usually winds up being a mechanical issue - there is a problem with the head actuator arm that won’t allow it to position itself where scandisk/the OS says it needs to be - then scandisk hangs or crashes. If the problem is with the media itself - ie, the heads can move where necessary, but the electrons just refuse to line up properly in that sector, it recovers what data it can (depending on the defaults you have set), then marks those sectors as bad so the drive won’t attempt to write any more data to that part of the drive. Scandisk, though, has never been good for diagnosing anything other than blindingly obvious errors.