Windows XP-Boot Camp-File Checking nonsense
July 13, 2008 5:54 PM   Subscribe

We are having a problem with hours-long file checks when booting into Windows XP (Home Edition, with SP2) via Boot Camp on an iMac running Leopard.

Here's what happens when we restart the computer and seek to go into Windows:

- Restart
- Hold down Option key
- Choose Windows XP image
- Windows XP "loading" screen appears (with progress bar moving)
- Blue DOS-ish screen asking if we want to perform a file check to weed out corrupted files (I don't have the exact text), with the prompt to skip it by pressing any key
- Sometimes pressing the key works and XP finishes loading and the desktop appears...
- But sometimes it doesn't and we wait anywhere from 6 to 12 hours for the thing to finally get to the desktop!
- During the interminable wait, a tally of files and a percentage-complete figure are displayed on the screen, still in blue DOS-ish mode.

Some other details which might be helpful:

- This problem didn't occur for the first few weeks we had the computer (which we obtained last year);
- We have wiped the partition and reinstalled XP once, which didn't seem to help;
- The Windows side of things is used to play a MMORPG, Final Fantasy XI, the vast majority of the time, and might have some sort of third-party software installed, while the Mac side is more productivity-oriented;
- We have all the original installation stuff for both OS X and XP but would prefer to not lose all our data;
- The word "FAT32" seems to figure prominently in the blue-screened file checks and I'm not sure why after reading the Wikipedia page on FAT, unless this is some sort of defragmenting thing (though that may be a red herring).

Finally, this computer is mostly manned by a teenager (*points accusingly at non-MeFite brother*) who's heavy on the gaming and light on the technical details of how it all works; rare excursions into the brother's lair have been my only encounters with the problem. We use the computer for games, internet surfing, and light office stuff, so we haven't really tinkered under the hood; any step-by-step/simple explanations or advice you can offer would be fabulous.

If you can help us solve this we will, no joke, send you (edible) cookies.

posted by mdonley to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Best answer: The disk check may occur for a number of reasons, including an improper shutdown of Windows or a corrupted disk. Provided that you aren't experiencing any signs of disk corruption, you could try disabling the disk check on start up:

Go to the Start menu in Windows and select Run. In the resulting window, type: CMD , and hit enter. In the command line window that pops up, type:

chkntfs /x c:

Hit enter. Note that "c:" refers to the partition that keeps getting scanned. If Windows is scanning your D partition, then change that reference to "d:".

The disk checker should no longer run on the specified drive. Good luck!
posted by roomwithaview at 6:16 PM on July 13, 2008

Windows is not being shut down correctly and is doing a chkdsk to make sure the drive is okay. How is your brother shutting down the windows machine when hes done? If he's just holding down the power button on the mac, then he'll continue to get this screen. He needs to click on Start > Shutdown.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:35 PM on July 13, 2008

Response by poster: Whoo-hoo! Thanks roomwithaview!
posted by mdonley at 10:00 PM on July 13, 2008

The above advice is accurate.. but one thing i want to comment on. Even if WindowsXP has legitimate reasons for running a boot-time CHKDSK... it shouldn't take anywhere near "6 to 12 hours"... thats hideously long. (I've seen 500gig drives completely CHKDSK's in much shorter time.)

I also have a Macbook Pro that is Bootcamp'ed OSX/XP.... I've never had reason to run a CHKDSK on it, but its only a 160gig drive (split 50/50, so the XP side is only 80gig).. I cant imagine the CHKDSK taking more than 2 hours max....

The only thing I can thing of that *might* increase the duration of CHKDSK would be if your drive is really full.. .or really badly fragmented.. (but even then, it shouldnt take 6 to 12 hours)

once you get CHKDSK run successfully (so it doesnt come back).. go in and look at your drive's free space.. and run a Defrag. (you may also want to go into the Event Viewer and look around for any event log entries that might tip you off to any possible impending drive problems.

Good Luck!
posted by jmnugent at 7:29 AM on July 14, 2008

How is your Windows XP drive formatted? You mention "FAT32" figures in the message. If you have Windows installed on a FAT32 drive, you should immediately convert it to NTFS for performance and securty reasons (instructions are in the Windows help).

Do you have external drives attached to the machine? I see this behavior if I reboot the machine with a FAT32-formatted USB drive attached to the machine. Fortunately the only FAT32 drives I have are USB keys. I try to remember to plug them in only after booting the machine.

This is all general Windows advice, not specific to Boot Camp machines. I'm a Windows user at work and a Mac user at home, and I'm happy to no longer have any need for a Windows OS on my Mac (though it took me over a year to get there...)
posted by lhauser at 3:49 PM on July 14, 2008

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