Fault: PC freezes at chkdsk.sys
This is a common fault that we see in our workshop. It can occur in safe mode and normal mode but with normal mode the PC often fails to load windows and just keeps restarting itself. This happens on desktop PCs and very often on laptops as they suffer knocks and bumps to the hard drive and battery failure.
The problem is the disk itself in 99 percent of cases. Whether it can be fixed is down to a number of factors but, in short, here’s how we go about testing it and repairing the fault. I’ll presume that you wish to recover data (documents, images, emails etc) from the disk as most of our clients do. We have a great success rate in recovering data and getting Windows running again with this method.
First, we set the host PC’s bios to start from CD. If you don’t know how to do this then take a look at my article How to change the boot order of a PC.
Next, we’ll pop over and get a copy of the excellent HDD Regenerator, downloadable here (link opens in a new window). This is the single most useful disk checking tool out there at the moment. It’s not free but it will give you the best chance of data retrieval. Also it’s a tool that is very useful to have in your repair arsenal and you can fix other PCs with it too. I’ve written a full review of HDD regen here. You’ll need to use another PC to create the bootable CD or DVD with but as you’re reading this I’ll presume you have access to one. HDD regenerator can also create a bootable flash drive but for maximum compatibility use the CD.
Next we boot the dead PC with our CD (or Flash drive) and enter the HDD regenerator interface. Tell it to scan the correct hard drive (often there’s only one anyway) and let the program do its stuff, all automatically. Allow an hour or more to scan a drive of about 160GB on a typical Windows XP machine. Newer PCs have better, faster processors and more RAM but they often have bigger drives so a typical scan can take a few hours.
Remember, what the program is doing is a sector-by-sector analysis of your hard drive and moving data from bad areas of the drive to good. This takes time, often we see scans running for several hours, but it will ultimately help you to be able to recover your data and in most cases get Windows restarted. You can also leave the scan running overnight, you don’t need to sit and watch it!
After the chkdsk.sys error repair
With the drive finally scanned, the program reports how many bad sectors it found and you simply press ‘Esc’ to quit the program.
Restart your PC, removing the CD on the initial restart, and make it your first job to backup those files you thought you had lost!
Reference: chkdsk.sys fault when computer starts causes PC to hang or freeze