Windows start - Volume is Dirty

21 Oct 2009
Posted by Laptop Junction

Windows is amazing - it comes with new exciting messages when you least expect it. After having to pull the plug on one of Windows infamous lockups, it starts with a new message on a blue screen: Volume is Dirty - CHKDSK is verifying files.

Never seen before, but this message probably makes everyone wonder, what does this mean?. It's a typical case where a Windows programmer has gotten away (again) with printing a totally in-comprehensive message on the screen for unsuspecting Windows users. It sort of has a whiff of Monty Python humor - suddenly your system gets splattered with raw sewage :: The Volume is Dirty - right.
 

Windows starts with the message NTFS volume is dirty

However this message is no laughing matter - after having wondered what it means - it immediately trips the backup alarm. When was the last backup!? Because trustworthy friend CHKDSK can come with a message of doom of damaged files or clusters. Fortunately all was ok, chkdisk didn't find a thing.

So what does "Volume is Dirty" mean? In short, any windows program can set a "dirty" flag for each disk. At startup the "dirty" flag is checked and if so CHKDSK is started. The problem is, there is no journal or log in Windows to check what program set the dirty flag. Great...

Just before Windows locked up in a 20 minute disk writing session and became unresponsive. Just before that JAVA 6 update 16 was given the go-ahead for install. It never managed to ask to close FireFox and other JAVA related software. Probably this was the cause, and most likely JAVA install could have set the windows dirty flag.