Automating Disk Maintenance— Without Risk

As a long time plus subscriber, I wouldn’t miss an issue. Good stuff… Anyway, I was thinking about automating both scandisk(Win9x)/chkdsk.exe (XP, 2K) and defrag on all of the computers in my office (all are Windows XP Pro SP2). I was going to have them run automatically, first scandisk on Tuesday night, then follow up on Wednesday night with defrag. I have done the research to determine exactly how to accomplish this via the Task Scheduler using batch files so no help needed there.

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What I was wondering is what problems might be caused if the power should go out during either of these processes. I am a big believer in Murphy’s Laws, so sure as shooting, power will go out at the wrong time. I really would like to know what I can expect, with both a worst case scenario and normal scenario of the power going out. I am trying to weigh problems vs. benefits of running them regularly, or infrequently as I am currently doing.

We have a small office, so these get run when people call in sick or are on vacation. I just thought that if I automated them, my job would be easier. —Dan

Automating scandisk and defrag is a good idea. It assures that the maintenance is done frequently, saves time and makes sure the tasks are completed even when you’re not around.

A power failure can hose your systems whether you’re sitting there or not, whether the current process is automated or not— and whether you’re running a disk-maintenance utility or not. The solution is not to launch utilities manually or infrequently, but to protect your systems with a high-quality UPS. That way, you can use either the auto shut-down software included with the UPS, or what’s built into XP’s power management to terminate whatever processes are running, and perform a graceful shut down when the lights go out.

Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.