Self-healing NTFS in Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista

I ask this question to a customer who ask me about how Windows Server 2008 can help them achieve higher availability for their data.

Have you ever had some weird disk or system behavior on your system volume, discovered or believed it was disk corruption, and then ran “chkdsk c: /f” on it only to get that lovely message:
Chkdsk cannot run because the volume is in use by another process. Would you like to schedule this volume to be checked the next time the system restarts (Y/N) ”?

So then I ask them how would you like to reduce the likely hood of ever having to do a chkdsk. An the IT Pros in the room want to know more about a feature in Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista called Self-healing NTFS. This is not one of the features that filters up into the marketing material for either Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008. However when I am talking to customers who want high availability for their data this feature is very important to talk about.

So what is is Self-healing NTFS and how can it help :

By default in Server 2008, self-healing NTFS is turned on and automatically detects and recovers/repairs/removes corruptions on the NTFS volume, boot sector, or files. It does this on the When any of these repairs are done, it will log a NTFS source event in the system event log (# 130 and 55 event IDs).


It’s going to possibly remove/delete a corrupted file someone is using on the disk? What if I lose data?

So lets look at this way – if the file is corrupted, it’s gone anyway and you can look at what was removed in the logs. Furthermore, there is a good possibility self-healing NTFS can fix the issue without the user ever even knowing there is a problem and you get all of the overall benefits listed below.

However, just for those who don’t want the automatic repair/deletions, there is a way to turn it on/off. It’s a pretty simple command: “fsutil repair set c: 0” where c: represents the volume you’d like to turn in off. Replace the 0 with a 1 and it will turn it back on the drive. When you turn it off, it will notify you a file is corrupt but do nothing to fix it.

Overall benefits (rephrased from the Changes in functionality from WS2003 SP1 guide below):
· Runs without requiring reboots on all volumes, except in extreme corruption conditions
· Preserves as much data as possible - based on the type of corruption
· Reduces failed file system mounting requests
· Provides better reporting for file system changes
· Recovers volumes when boot sector is readable, but no NTFS volume identified
· Validates and preserves data with critical system files

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