what to do when “your disk is dirty” on an XP based machine
Before I start let me wish everyone a happy “Cinco De Mayo”. I got my day started with a flurry and I knew this would be a post that I’ll look back at and say hmm..
So this morning I booted up my trusty Dell XPS 400 and I get the BOD (Blues screen of Death) screen and it tells me that my “Volume is dirty”. First I said WTF, and then I said OMG, I’m screwed.
Fortunately, I didn’t freak out and jump up and down. Instead I let XP run through it’s rituals and fix the hard drive for lost clusters and lost links. This took about 10 minutes and the machine booted up into XP.
Yes, I know I wouldn’t have this problem if I had a Mac (that’s for my friend G, who’s now returned to his motherland in Michigan)
I went to my spare VISTA machine and Googled “My drive is dirty” and found out that I wasn’t screwed, but just that data on the drive had become corrupted. Yeah, I know that doesn’t sound like good news. Yet I’m sitting here on my Dell and typing this update.
Fortunately for me, I let XP do it’s thing and it ran through CHKDSK and verified there was no structural damage (and verified the drive integrity).
I consider myself to be somewhat knowledgeable about funky XP messages, but in my 25+ years of working on computers, I’ve never seen this kind of message.
I found the following in one of my favorite sites – The Tech Support Guy forum as a solution to this problem:
Keep in mind this will work if you are able to get into Windows.. AFTER the Chkdsk runs to try to fix the problem.
Click on the Start menu and open the run dialog.
2. Type “cmd” and return (without quotes)
3. Next type “fsutil dirty query <letter of drive that chkdsk keeps checking>” (for example, C:
4. If the returned message indicates that the volume is dirty, go to step 5
5. Next type “chkdsk <drive letter> /f /x”
If you get this below answer YES.
Chkdsk cannot run because the volume is in use by another
process. Would you like to schedule this volume to be
checked the next time the system restarts? <Y/N>
6. After that finishes, repeat step 3.
7. If the volume is no longer dirty, reboot and chkdsk should not reappear.
The “fsutil dirty query” reports the current state of the flag.
“Chkdsk /f” forces Chkdsk to run whether or not the flag is dirty— it’s a way to ensure that errors are fixed, regardless of what the flag says.
“Chkdsk /x” goes a little further and helps ensure that any files that were left open get closed; it actually implies “/f” so you don’t need the /f if you’re using /x .
With either /f or /x, at the end of the run, Chkdsk should set the flag to clean
Anyway the lesson to be learned here.
Backup, backup, backup… Something I need to do today..