Disk Failure Diagnostics
Disk reliability problems can vary in severity. Minor problems can cause seemingly random application failures. For example, if a user connects a new camera and the operating system fails to load the driver, disk corruption may be causing the problem. More severe problems can result in the total loss of data stored on the hard disk.
Windows can eliminate much of the impact of a disk failure by detecting disk problems proactively, before total failure occurs. Hard disks often show warning signs before failure, but earlier Windows operating systems did not record the warning signs. Windows now checks for evidence that a hard disk is beginning to fail and warns the user or the Support Center of the problem. The IT department can then back up the data and replace the hard disk before the problem becomes an emergency. For administrators, Windows acts as a guide through the process of backing up their data so that they can replace the drive without data loss.
Most new hard disks include Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART) and Disk Self Tests (DSTs). SMART monitors the health of the disk using a set of degradable attributes, such as head-flying height and bad block reallocation count. DSTs actively check for failures by performing read, write, and servo tests.
Windows queries for SMART status on an hourly basis and regularly schedules DSTs. If Windows detects impending disk failure, Windows can start disk diagnostics to guide the user or IT professionals through the process of backing up the data and replacing the disk before total failure occurs. Windows can also detect problems related to a dirty or scratched CD or DVD and instruct the user to clean the media.
You can configure disk diagnostics using two Group Policy settings. Both are located in Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\System\Troubleshooting And Diagnostics\Disk Diagnostic.
- Disk Diagnostic: Configure Execution Level Use this policy to enable or disable disk diagnostic warnings. Disabling this policy does not disable disk diagnostics; it simply blocks disk diagnostics from displaying a message to the user and taking any corrective action. If you have configured a monitoring infrastructure to collect disk diagnostic events recorded to the event log and prefer to manually respond to events, you can disable this policy.
- Disk Diagnostic: Configure Custom Alert Text Enable this property to define custom alert text (up to 512 characters) in the disk diagnostic message that appears when a disk reports a SMART fault.
For disk diagnostics to work, the Diagnostic Policy Service must be running. Note that disk diagnostics cannot detect all impending failures. Additionally, because SMART attribute definitions are vendor specific, different vendor implementations can vary. SMART will not function if hard disks are attached to a hardware redundant array of independent disks (RAID) controller.
Note Many hardware vendors use SMART failures as a warranty replacement indicator.
In this tutorial:
- Troubleshooting Hardware, Driver, and Disk Issues
- Windows 7 Improvements for Hardware and Driver Troubleshooting
- Windows Troubleshooting Platform
- Built-in Troubleshooting Packs
- Windows Troubleshooting Platform Components
- Creating Custom Troubleshooting Packs
- Running Troubleshooting Packs Remotely
- Windows 7 Reliability Monitor
- Windows 7 Resource Monitor
- Windows Memory Diagnostics
- Disk Failure Diagnostics
- Self-Healing NTFS
- Improved Driver Reliability
- Improved Error Reporting
- The Process of Troubleshooting Hardware Issues
- How to Troubleshoot Problems That Prevent Windows from Starting
- How to Troubleshoot Problems Installing New Hardware
- How to Troubleshoot Problems with Existing Hardware
- How to Troubleshoot Unpredictable Symptoms
- How to Diagnose Hardware Problems
- How to Use Device Manager to Identify Failed Devices
- How to Check the Physical Setup of Your Computer
- How to Check the Configuration of Your Hardware
- How to Verify That System Firmware and Peripheral Firmware Are Up to Date
- How to Test Your Hardware by Running Diagnostic Tools
- How to Simplify Your Hardware Configuration
- How to Diagnose Disk-Related Problems
- How to Use Built-In Diagnostics
- How to Use Reliability Monitor
- How to Use Event Viewer
- How to Use Data Collector Sets
- How to Use Windows Memory Diagnostics
- Memory Failures
- How Windows Automatically Detects Memory Problems
- How to Schedule Windows Memory Diagnostics
- How to Start Windows Memory Diagnostics When Windows Is Installed
- How to Start Windows Memory Diagnostics from the Windows DVD
- How to Configure Windows Memory Diagnostics
- How to Troubleshoot Disk Problems
- How to Prepare for Disk Failures
- How to Use ChkDsk
- ChkDsk Examples
- ChkDsk Syntax
- How to Use the Graphical ChkDsk Interface
- How to Determine Whether ChkDsk Is Scheduled to Run
- ChkDsk Process on NTFS Volumes
- How to Use the Disk Cleanup Wizard
- How to Disable Nonvolatile Caching
- How to Troubleshoot Driver Problems
- How to Find Updated Drivers
- How to Roll Back Drivers in Windows 7
- How to Use Driver Verifier
- How to Use the File Signature Verification
- How to Use Device Manager to View and Change Resource Usage
- How to Use Windows 7 System Restore
- How to Troubleshoot USB Problems
- How to Solve USB Driver and Hardware Problems
- Understanding USB Limitations
- How to Identify USB Problems Using Performance Monitor
- How to Examine USB Hubs
- How to Troubleshoot Bluetooth Problems
- Troubleshooting Tools
- Process Monitor