Microsoft Still Working on ‘chkdsk.exe’ Bug

Last week, a bug was discovered in the Windows 7 RTM (build 7600) that was distributed to TechNet and MSDN subscribers. The bug occurs when a user (with administrator privileges) runs the “chkdsk /r” command on a non-system drive, and causes the following:

  • “chkdsk.exe” consumes a lot of memory (over 90%)
  • the computer becomes non-responsive and crashes

Unsurprisingly, the news had spread on various forums and blogs very quickly. Some described the bug as a “showstopper”, while others claimed that it could derail the Windows 7 launch. There are also several screen shots that have been posted on the internet.

grey Microsoft Still Working on chkdsk.exe Bug

Memory usage after running the 'chkdsk' command using 'r' parameter

Microsoft has responded to the issue through the Engineering Windows 7 blog in an article discussing how they deal with bug reports, focusing on the ‘chkdsk.exe’ bug. Microsoft said that they didn’t find any reported crashes of ‘chkdsk’ after looking through crash telemetry and existing bug reports:

We first looked through our crash telemetry (both at the user level and “blue screen” level) and found no reported crashes of chkdsk. We of course look through our existing reports of issues that came up during the development of Windows 7, but we didn’t see anything at all there. We queried the call stacks of existing reported crashes (of all kinds, since this was reported) and we did not find any crashes with chkdsk.exe running while crashing.

Then they had to face the fact that they were unable to reproduce the bug despite all of the tests that they’ve conducted to try to do so:

We then began automated test runs on a broad set of machines—these ran overnight and continued for 2 days. We also saw reports related to a specific hardware configuration, so we set up over 40 machines based on variants of that chipset, driver, and firmware and ran those tests. We were not hitting any crashes (as mentioned, the memory usage was already understood). Because some were saying the machines were non-responsive we also looked for that in manual tests and didn’t see anything. We also broadened this to request globally to Microsoft folks to try things out (we have quite a few unique configs when you think of all of our offices around the world) and so we had several hundred more test runs going. We also had reports of the crash happening when running without any virtual memory—that could be the case, but that would not be an issue with this utility as any program that requests more memory than physically available would cause things to tip over and this configuration is not recommended for general purpose use (and this appears to be the common thread on the small number of non-reproducible crashes).

Meanwhile they tried checking forums and external blogs to gather more information about the bug but failed to find any technical details or a crash dump. Microsoft says it will keep on working on it until they are satisfied that they have systematically ruled out the crash or defined the circumstances where it can happen.

I’ve tried running the command on my F drive (using “chkdsk /r F:“) and did notice a surge in the memory usage (by “chkdsk.exe), however didn’t witness a crash. Do think this is really a ‘critical’ problem? Or is it just making a storm in a tea cup (in other words, giving it a lot of unnecessary attention)?

Sources: Engineering Windows 7, Neowin and InfoWorld

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7 Responses to Microsoft Still Working on ‘chkdsk.exe’ Bug

  1. Name (required) August 10, 2009 at 7:38 am #

    lol i have just tried it and it does crash:

    Your computer is low on memory. save your files and close these programs: Check Disk Utility

    memory usage is 3.79GB (strange because i have pagefile turned on which should allow for more then that)
    CPU usage is 50% (looks like its using only one core)

    it has also crashed my antivirus (avast)

    AMD 64 X2 939 4800+
    4 GB Memory
    x64 windows 7 RTM (activated :)

    • nk August 10, 2009 at 8:19 am #

      It consumed 1.2GB of 2GB, half the paging file and the CPU was idle here. It didn’t crash, though.

      • Name (required) August 10, 2009 at 8:33 am #

        Are you using x86 or x64?

  2. yolarrydabbomb August 10, 2009 at 8:44 am #

    I just ran it on my 64 bit RC. no problems

  3. nicbot August 10, 2009 at 9:00 am #

    I think its a critical problem that needs attention, but not a ‘show stopper’. I imagine that once they are able to isolate the issue, they should be able to patch it quickly.

    The bigger problem is simply bad publicity. The timing of this sort of issue is just bad for the release.

    …I’ll still be buying my copy though, so I guess that’s telling of my opinion.

  4. salmank August 10, 2009 at 9:24 am #

    check out the latest news and intresting reviews about windows 7on…http://news-revuez.blogspot.com/

  5. Name (required or else) August 10, 2009 at 11:16 am #

    its only one stupid little bug that no one will ever notice, I mean how many times do you run a check disk, not very often or never. Windows 7 is an excellent operating system and this little bug wont hurt it. I have been using windows 7 for almost a year now and today was the first time I have ever ran a check disk.

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