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15.4. Hard Drive Checkups

Every time you shut down the computer, Windows tidies up, ensuring all files are saved properly on the drive. When all is well, Windows turns off the machine (or, on older computers, displays a message on your screen telling you it's OK to shut off your computer manually). The time that elapses between your Turn Off Computer command and the actual power-down moment is the "tidying up" period.

But sometimes, thanks to a system crash, power outage, or toddler playing with your surge suppressor, your computer gets turned off without warning—and without the usual shutdown checks. In the days before Windows XP, restarting the PC after such a dirty shutdown would automatically run a program called ScanDisk, a utility designed to detect and, when possible, repair drive damage that may have occurred as a result of an improper shutdown.


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