Fixing Windows Delayed Write Failed error

October 28, 2008 at 7:18 am 1 comment

Recently, while copying data from one USB external drive to another, I got the following error:

Windows – Delayed Write Failed : Windows was unable to save all the data for the file F:\$Mft. The data has been lost. This error may be caused by a failure of your computer hardware or network connection. Please try to save this file elsewhere

What appears to be happening is that the USB can’t keep up with the disk writes and is timing out. The error is puzzling since I do not have write cache enabled.  Both usb hard disk were set up for quick removal. In any case, the result is bad. The hard disk becomes corrupted.

There are a variety of possible causes to this problem. Microsoft listed various hotfix for this issue, but they were for SP2, so those fixes should have been rolled into SP3 by now. I tried to isolate the problem by using the same hard disk setup on a different machine. The copy worked flawlessly on a different machine. I figured it was most likely to be driver related. However, I have the latest driver from the manufacturer, right?

Wrong, the motherboard is a few years old and the drivers are from a few years ago. Since then Microsoft has updated XP by SP2 and SP3. Because the manufacturer no longer sell that board, they didn’t bothered to update the drivers. I poked around the Device Manager and discovered that the chipset is VIA. I then use google to locate a driver for the VIA chipset release recently in Oct 2008 that works for all VIA chipset. I installed it and the problem went away.

While I can’t guarantee that this will correct your problem, it’s worth a try to see if it will work. Try to see if there is a newer driver from the motherboard and chipset manufacturer.

As for the corrupted drive, you may be able to recover the data by copying as much data as possible, delete the partition, add a new one, format and put the data back. In my case, I had a back up so I erase the drive and repopulated it from the data.

Morale of the story

  • Be careful when you upgrade your OS, it’s possible that when you install a new Service Pack, your drivers may need updating.
  • You may not be able to depend on your vendor to provide a compatible driver. You may have to do some digging and find out the new driver from the chipset manufacturer and install it yourself.
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Entry filed under: Windows.

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