Windows 8 will minimise downtime when checking for disk corruption and fixing any errors, thanks to a redesign of the NTFS "health model" making for fewer headaches for users, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft has been steadily detailing features coming in the next version of its operating system in its Building Windows 8 blog, including its earlier disclosure of the new Resilient File System (ReFS), which builds on the foundations of the current NTFS.
On top of this, Windows 8 will also now reduce the complexity of fixing corruptions, according to Kiran Bangalore, a program manager on Microsoft's core system team.
Under the new health model, the file system status will be in one of four states: Online and healthy, Online spot verification needed, Online scan needed, and Spot fix needed, after which the status should return to healthy again.
Windows 8 expands on the NTFS self-healing feature that was introduced in Windows Vista, which fixes certain classes of corruptions encountered during normal operation, but increases the number of issues that can now be handled online.
If an issue is due to actual corruption on the disk rather than a memory glitch, it will be identified by the spot verification process, which triggers an online scan of the file system running in the background.
The key factor for users is that the disk volume remains online and available at all times, unless the user or administrator chooses to apply fixes to corruptions logged in the online scan phase.
"The downtime from this operation, called ‘Spot fix' takes only seconds, and on Windows Server 8 systems with cluster shared volumes, we've eliminated this downtime completely," wrote Bangalore.
This improvement is possible because the offline run time is now directly proportional to the number of corruptions, rather than proportional to the number of files, as was the case in previous versions of Windows, Microsoft said.
The change was becoming necessary because the ballooning capacity of hard drives means that the current process for checking and correcting disk corruption takes too long.
"As hard disk capacities have continued to double every 18 months and the number of files per volume is increasing at an equal rate, chkdsk has taken longer and longer to complete (even with speed improvements)," Bangalore said.
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