Windows Defragment Tool Does Not Show C Drive

I'm running Home Premium 64-bit with the standard defrag tool. I recently had to disable the chkdsk utility to fix an unusual problem where the system would freeze on startup when trying to check the disk for errors. I'm afraid that if I reactivate chkdsk, it will leave my computer in an unusable state.


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The situation reads as precarious. Do you have any means to immediately backup important files? I would suggest doing this immediately, even if it means purchasing a USB flash drive or using a free 2GB service like Dropbox.

Before you take any further steps, because you have determined there may be problems with the hard drive, you should consider doing a manual file backup of essential files. If the system freezes when checking the disk for errors, I would assume that the hard drive is damaged. Have you considered checking the physical connection (power and SATA cables) going to and from the motherboard to the drive? Again, I would only do this after the backup.

If you hear any strange clicking, grinding, or otherwise strange sounds, this would also indicate hardware failure of the disk drive. If the system cannot even complete a chkdsk, it most certainly sounds like this is the core issue, which will require replacement of the drive.

You should determine whether the hard drive has S.M.A.R.T capability, which would allow you to check the status of the drive from within Windows, and possibly from within the BIOS itself. This is usually a feature activated in the BIOS if it is not already turned on.

You will need a monitoring utility such as the Intel Rapid Storage Technology application. Although designed primarily for RAID, it will also work with standalone drives. Many drive manufacturers make hardware diagnostic tools for their drives that you can run. You may choose to find the make and model number of your drive, and look up these tools online.

If you have purchased the computer from a manufacturer like Dell or HP, and are still under warranty, you may want to call their support, since they will give you troubleshooting advice and information on how to replace faulty hardware if covered under warranty. You may also want to look into trying to use the system restore partition on a system such as this (if one exists), to restore everything back to original factory defaults, including the file system.

If this is a custom-built computer, or a system that is out of warranty, you may want to try a do-it-yourself approach to eliminating all possibilities. Since you have already disabled chkdsk, and cannot run it, you may want to try the idea of using the drive manufacturer tools and support as a goal, as mentioned above. You could also try reformatting the drive and immediately scanning for bad sectors running chkdsk /r /f. If the system continues to freeze, its very likely that chkdsk is reaching a point of the drive that it cannot correct or fix at all. This is why reformatting can help confirm whether it is a file system problem or a disk problem. The trouble with this is that you will lose your data and need to have it backed up first.

If drive c: is not visible in defrag, and chkdsk has been disabled, the situation sounds critical for either the file system that Windows resides on, or more likely, the hard drive. Your best course of action would be to replace the drive completely if all of the above tactics fail. This is not something that normally happens unless the drive’s file system is completely corrupted or the drive itself is about to fail.

In a failed state, some parts of the drive will continue to function for a short duration of time. If this is the case, you are lucky to even be able to boot into Windows 7. This means that the BCD and boot record for the drive hasn’t been completely lost. You are right in your assumptions, but if the drive is truly failing, even turning off the system and turning it back on could result in a non-recoverable situation. Your best bet is to back up everything right away, and then systematically try the steps listed above.

Remember, they are:

  • Immediately back up all essential files.
  • Conduct a risk vs. reward assessment to determine what you are willing to do and what you aren't (i.e. format the drive to possibly rule out a bad file system right away or go with other strategies). For example, if you have nothing on the drive of importance, you can try to isolate it by reformatting and reinstalling Windows to prove the drive is dying right away.
  • Determine if you can access S.M.A.R.T and other disk diagnostic utilities by accessing the drive manufacturer’s website or downloading Intel Rapid Storage Technology drivers and software.
  • Determine if you can use any kind of warranty, whether on the entire system, or drive to gain support and/or a replacement.
  • Check for faulty connections with the drive and motherboard. Since ribbon cables are no longer used, this is unlikely, but remotely possible.
  • Attempt to restore the drive to factory defaults and run chkdsk again. If it still fails, the drive may be corrupt.
  • Avoid turning off the system to retain data, and try to acquire disk diagnostic utilities from verified sources.
  • You could try System File Integrity Checker (command prompt: sfc /scannow) to see if Windows System Files are damaged, but if the drive is faltering hard this may compound the problem.
  • If all else fails, prepare for a full drive replacement.
Once again, if you hear any clicking noises or strange clipping or grinding sounds coming from the hard drive this is an immediate sign that the drive failure is imminent, and I urge you to immediately back up all files.

A defragmentation will not fix disk corruption in any way. It can compound the problem greatly.

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