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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | The Troubleshooting Expert | Troubleshooting Specific Components | Troubleshooting Floppy Disk Drives | File System Problems ]

I am experiencing file system corruption problems, such as lost clusters, cross-linked files or invalid files or directories

Explanation: While performing a routine file system scan on a floppy disk, errors are being detected. These errors are usually lost clusters or cross-linked files. The disk itself otherwise works OK, although one or two files may be corrupted

Diagnosis: File system problems can occur on floppy disks just as they can on hard disks, although they are less common only because many more files are created and deleted on an ongoing basis on a hard disk than on a floppy disk. Lost clusters are a common file system problem and do not usually indicate anything abnormal since they can result simply from a file not being closed properly on a floppy disk. However, finding large quantities of lost clusters even when scanning regularly, or repeatedly finding problems like cross-linked files or invalid files or directories, can be a signal of a more serious problem.

Note: A lost cluster is not the same thing at all as a bad sector (which is a physical disk problem, not a file system problem).

Recommendation: You may want to try all of the following items:

  • Make sure you thoroughly scan your disk for viruses, using an up-to-date virus scanner. Corrupting the file system is a popular game with viruses.
  • Make sure that you are using the correct type of disk utilities. Using a disk utility not designed for Windows 95 on a floppy disk containing Windows 95 long file names can cause the program to detect "errors" that don't really exist.
  • Make sure the floppy drive types are properly set up in the system BIOS.
  • If the problem recently occurred after installing a particular piece of software, it may be that program causing the corruption. Some applications can be buggy, and especially if they crash a lot, they may leave partial files and other file system anomalies lying around. Try not using the suspect application for a few days if possible, and see if the problems go away.
  • Check for resource conflicts. These can cause files to be corrupted.
  • You may have an instability problem with your operating system installation. Look in this section for more; you may want to try reinstalling the operating system. A recently-changed driver may be the problem.
  • If you have recently installed bus mastering IDE drivers, these could be causing the problem. See here for more and try uninstalling them if possible.
  • If there is a problem with the disk change sensor or the disk change signal coming from the drive, then this can cause a disk's file system to be corrupted when you change disks. The system won't realize the disk has been changed and may write the information from one disk onto the file system of another. Troubleshoot this here.

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