The corruption-fixing tool in Windows 8 will be a lot less intrusive than in earlier versions of the operating system, Microsoft has promised.
In a blog post explaining Windows 8's new NTFS health model, the company said on Thursday that the "redesigned" chkdsk utility would lead to less downtime. It will also run for shorter times and more in the background than its predecessors.
"In Windows 8, we have made the detection and correction of file system errors more transparent and less intrusive," Kiran Bangalore, a senior programme manager in the Windows Core Storage and File Systems department, wrote.
In earlier versions of the NTFS file system, fixing disk corruptions could in some cases result in hours of downtime. The more files in the volume, the longer the process would take, and the problem was exacerbated by the ever-increasing storage capacity of hard disks.
Microsoft's first change in Windows 8's implementation of NTFS is to increase the number of issues that can be fixed using the NTFS self-healing feature, which, unlike chkdsk, does not require the volume to be taken offline.
The company has also introduced a spot verification service to confirm that perceived corruptions really are corruptions, and not blips caused by memory issues. The tool is triggered by the file system driver and runs in the background.
If real problems are verified, a background scan of the file system then takes place, again without taking the volume offline. Issues are logged, and the user or administrator can then take the volume offline for maintenance at a time of their choosing.
"The downtime from this operation, called 'Spotfix', takes only seconds, and on Windows Server 8 systems with cluster shared volumes, we've eliminated this downtime completely," Bangalore write. "With this new model, chkdsk offline run time is now directly proportional to the number of corruptions, rather than being proportional to the number of files as in the old model."
Bangalore also noted that ReFS, the successor to NTFS that is making its debut as a storage system in Windows Server 8, "does not require an offline chkdsk to repair corruptions".