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Windows 8.1: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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Hard Drive Checkups

It’s true: Things can occasionally go wrong on the surface of your hard drive. Maybe there’s a messed-up spot on its physical surface. Maybe, thanks to a system crash, power outage, or toddler playing with your surge suppressor, your computer gets turned off without warning, and some files are left open and stranded.

In the olden days, way back even before Windows XP, fixing your disk required running a program called ScanDisk, a utility designed to detect and, when possible, repair drive damage.

ScanDisk doesn’t exist in Windows 8.1. But its functions, and many more, have been overhauled. Many disk problems are automatically detected and automatically fixed—and most of them don’t require you to wait while the PC repairs itself. There’s a lot less downtime.

The Three Action-Center Messages

To see how your computer is doing, open the Action Center described earlier. Near the top, you’ll see one of these messages (Figure 21-3):

  • No issues have been detected by Action Center. All is well.

  • Scan drive for errors. This message appears under the Maintenance heading. It means Windows has found something it doesn’t like. It’s going to check out the damage and mark it for fixing at the next restart. Anyway, click “Run scan.”

  • Restart to repair drive errors (important). This message, also under Maintenance, comes after the previous one, and it means Windows found stuff that needs fixing—stuff that can be fixed only by restarting your machine. Click Restart.

Manual Checks

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