*********Perform these steps at your own risk**********

Hard disk errors can be a major problem that can corrupt your data and prevent your operating system from functioning correctly. But before you throw your computer out the window (or reformat your hard drive), try correcting the issue using Windows XP and Windows Vista Check Disk Utility.

What is a hard disk drive error?
It can be several problems, but most commonly it is a bad sector on the drive or data corruption. Vista and XP has ways to handle both. For bad sectors, your OS marks the area of physical damage as a no write/read zone and avoids the area. For data corruption problems, Vista and XP will use error checking algorithms to figure out and correct the bad data.

So how do you do the repair?
Running the repair tool is easy in Windows XP and Vista. Simply go to My Computer and locate the drive you would like to fix. Right-click the drive and go to Properties. This step should open a window with several tabs at the top. Select the “Tools” tab and hit the Check Now button under Error-checking. You will have the option to “Automatically Fix” file system errors and to Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors. I would check both. Then hit Start Checking. If you are fixing your primary drive (most often called C:\) you will be required to reboot your computer and the disk check utility will scan your drive before running Windows.

The Windows disk check utility can take a while to run. It is recommended that the computer is not used during the disk repair process.