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Article ID: 67586 - Last Review: October 26, 2013 - Revision: 3.0

This article was previously published under Q67586
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This article explains the actions that MS-DOS takes when a critical error happens during a disk access. MS-DOS takes specific actions for each of the four possible Critical Error (Interrupt 24h) responses: Ignore, Abort, Retry, or Fail.

More information

According to the "MS-DOS Encyclopedia," MS-DOS takes the following actions for each possible critical error response.
   Error     Action

   Ignore    The MS-DOS function call returns to the application
             program as if the function had completed successfully.
             For example, if the program is trying to read from the
             disk, MS-DOS tells the program that all is well. This
             can result in corrupted data in your disk file or
             in data returned to your application.

   Retry     The critical error handler signals MS-DOS to reissue the
             last function call made to the device that caused the
             critical error.

   Abort     The current application is terminated immediately.
             Unwritten disk buffers are NOT written to disk, the
             directory information is not updated, and modified
             interrupt vectors are not reset. Choosing this option can
             leave the system in a very unstable state.

   Fail      This causes MS-DOS to return to the application software>
             with an error condition. In programming terms, the carry
             flag is set upon exit from the INT 21h DOS function call.
             This allows the application program to handle the error
             itself and take appropriate action, rather than letting
             MS-DOS do it.
The MS-DOS kernel and device drivers do not mark a FAT entry as being bad when a critical error occurs, or at any other time. This task must be done by a separate utility. The RECOVER utility provided with MS-DOS can do this, but only if the bad sector exists within a file's allocated clusters -- free bad clusters are not checked by RECOVER. The FORMAT utility is typically the best solution, since it scans all areas of the disk for bad sectors. The disadvantage is that FORMAT also destroys any data on the drive.

Some third-party disk utilities provide disk-scanning features that examine the entire disk data area for bad sectors, and then mark them as bad in the FAT (without disturbing other data on the disk).

Applies to
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 4.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 5.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 6.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 6.2 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 6.21 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 6.22 Standard Edition
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