Data Centers

Check for volume errors in Windows Server 2003 with vrfydsk.exe and chkdsk.exe

If you suspect your Windows Server 2003 has data corruption in one of its volumes, you can track down the damage before it spreads. Scott Lowe explains how to use the chkdsk.exe and vrfydsk.exe utilities to troubleshoot potential server issues.

Regardless of the environment, data corruption can still happen from time to time. If you suspect that a FAT or NTFS volume in one of your Windows Server 2003 servers is suffering from corruption, you need to take steps to identify potential corruption before it gets too serious.

There are two ways to go about this. First, you can use the venerable chkdsk.exe utility. However, unless you have installed Windows Server 2003 SP1, you must take the suspect volume offline in order to get accurate results using chkdsk.exe. Taking a volume offline to run chkdsk.exe can be very difficult in a high availability environment, particularly if you only suspect that a volume has a problem. Instead, consider using the vrfydsk.exe utility, which is a part of the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit.

Vrfydsk.exe allows you to perform a complete check of a volume while the volume is still online. Vrfydsk.exe creates a shadow copy of a volume, and then runs a verification routine against the shadow volume, leaving the original volume intact and online. After you run vrfydsk.exe against this shadow volume, vrfydsk.exe provides a report that outlines any problems found, and then deletes the shadow volume.

Note: If you are running Windows Server 2003 SP1, chkdsk.exe is capable of running in read-only mode, providing similar functionality to vrfydsk.exe. For SP1 users, Microsoft recommends that you use chkdsk.exe when possible. Running chkdsk.exe with no parameters will initiate chkdsk.exe's read-only mode.

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