Why Do Files Get Corrupted in Windows, and How Do You Stop It?
Nothing is more painful than discovering that corruption has struck one of your most important or treasured files. And if you’re unsure as to how to handle corruption on Windows, there’s a chance it might affect you more than once.
In this article, we will uncover different causes that lead to corrupting files in Windows. We will also unravel some tips and tricks to protect your data from corruption.
The 5 Most Common Causes of File Corruption on a Windows PC
Here are a few prominent reasons why your data gets corrupt:
- Malware attacks and viruses infecting your computer can corrupt your data.
- Data corruption can also result from improperly saving files.
- Incorrectly stopping a file relocation process can corrupt whichever file was being moved at that time.
- The data can also be corrupted when you unplug storage devices from the computer without removing them safely.
- Disk sectors can also go bad, corrupting the files and folders.
So, how do you stop any of these from happening? Let’s find out.
6 Ways to Prevent Data Corruption in Windows
If you are also concerned about your precious data getting corrupted, here are six ways to prevent it from happening:
1. Relocate Your Files Neatly
If the process of relocating data from one location to another gets interrupted midway, the files can corrupt. If this happens when relocating files using Windows’ cut and paste feature, we may even lose them. For this reason, you should migrate your data neatly to prevent corruption.
Always use copy and paste when relocating data. That way, if something goes wrong with the transfer, you still have the original file on your PC, left uncorrupted by the transfer process.
When moving files, always be sure to stop the process neatly if you need to. To do this, click the Cancel button in the file transfer window, and Windows will stop the process cleanly without any data corruption. Do not try to stop a transfer by removing the storage drive or turning off your PC.
Moreover, if you live in a region that often experiences power outages, be aware of transferring files during times when they happen most frequently. If your area experiences outages in an unpredictable way, consider getting an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). These should be powerful enough to allow the transfer to finish, or at least give you time to cancel it cleanly.
2. Keep Your PC Safe From Malware
Despite Microsoft Windows Defender’s best efforts, malicious files can still be left behind on your computer after a malware attack. If these malicious files remain in your system for a long time, they can infect other files.
Since these files are usually hidden, it’s hard to find them. Therefore, you should regularly unhide the hidden files and look for unusual files in the folder. Keep an eye on the file extension as malicious files often have unique extensions you have never seen before. As soon as you find them, remove them from the vicinity of your computer.
Running malware scans to prevent malicious files from staying on your computer for a long time will also prevent your files from getting corrupted after becoming infected. Despite the ease of running a malware scan, it’s not always on our to-do list to do so regularly. To protect your data, you should regularly schedule a malware scan for your files and folders to look for malicious files.
Using the Task Scheduler is the best way to schedule a malware scan. Even if you’ve never used it before, it’s super easy to set up. Here are the steps you need to follow:
- In the Windows Search, type “Task Scheduler” and open it.
- Navigate to Task Scheduler Library > Microsoft > Windows > Windows Defender in the left sidebar.
- In the right-hand pane, double-click Windows Defender Scheduled Scan.
- Click the New button in the Triggers tab.
- Task Scheduler lets you decide when to run a scan. If possible, schedule the scan to run early in the morning when you log on to your computer.
That’s all. After following the above steps, you’ll be able to schedule the malware scan to run regularly.
3. Unmount External Storage Devices Properly
Following the file transfer process, it’s a common practice to unplug the storage device right away. However, it’s tricky to know whether any applications are still using the data on the storage device. As such, pulling the plug rightaway may corrupt any data in the process of transferring.
In light of that, it is always a good idea to eject the storage device before you unplug it from the device. This step will prevent any data loss from your external storage device since all applications would no longer be using the data when unplugging.
4. Avoid Opening Files in Unsupported Apps
Opening files in unsupported apps is another common cause of file corruption in Windows. When you do so, the incompatibility between the file and the software may scramble some of the file’s data in a bad way. Therefore, it’s recommended not to open files in unsupported programs.
Even if you must do it at all costs, check what formats the app supports and convert your files accordingly. Files can be converted into different formats in several ways, but we recommend using free online converter tools.
5. Prevent Your Hard Drive Sectors From Going Bad
A bad sector is a part of a storage drive that has been physically damaged. Physical damage can be caused by manufacturing faults, power surges, falls, overheating, or dust inside the storage device.
Although Windows is smart enough not to write new information to bad sectors, previously written information may become corrupted. Consequently, you should avoid letting your drive’s sectors go bad.
To prevent physical damage to your storage drive’s sectors, follow the below tips:
- Make sure you clean your laptop regularly and don’t let dust enter inside.
- Make sure your laptop stays within a safe temperature range.
- Avoid connecting any other laptop’s charger while charging; always use a genuine one.
- Shut down your computer correctly, and don’t power it off directly with the power button.
- Don’t let your laptop stay in sleep mode for too long.
- Prevent accidental falls by taking extra care when handling your laptop.
How to Deal With Data Corruption in Windows
Even if you follow the tips mentioned above, there is always the risk of data corruption. Here are some tips on how to handle it effectively:
1. Keep Duplicate Files in Other Formats
The best way to deal with file corruption is to create a duplicate file in a different format than the original. For instance, creating a duplicate of a Word file after converting it to PDF allows you to avoid losing data if the Word file becomes corrupt.
In the same way, you can duplicate folders and upload them to a safe location after compressing them. As a result, if things go south, you can download the duplicate and reaccess your precious data. This method, however, requires more manual effort, making it less practical.
2. Make Regular Backups to Keep Your Files Protected
Even with the best efforts, there is always the risk of data corruption due to a mishap, and creating duplicates is no easy task. For this reason, creating a regular backup of your data is recommended. In addition, because it doesn’t require as much manual effort as creating duplicates, it won’t take up much of your time.
Similar to how you can schedule a malware scan for every day, you can also schedule a backup. Our guide explains how you can use Veeam to schedule backups in Windows. Our recommendation is to schedule your backup right when you start your computer so that the changes you’ve made the day before will be reflected in the backup the next morning.
Don’t Let Your Files and Folders Get Corrupted
Following the tips listed above should prevent your files from being corrupted. Keep your data safe and secure by adhering to these practices. Despite relying on the tips mentioned above, it is still highly recommended to back up your files in case something goes awry.
When your data gets corrupted despite your best efforts, many tools are available to assist you in repairing the damage. A few handy options you should keep in mind include Digital Video Repair, Repair Toolbox, and Hetman File Repair.