How to Fix an Input/Output Error

Written by jennifer moore
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How to Fix an Input/Output Error
Input/output erros can occur when transfering files to an external hard drive. (Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Input/output errors indicate an issue with a peripheral device like a printer or external hard drive. Generally, this is caused by the transfer of damaged files or by an outdated device driver. As with all things computer-related, this error can either be easily resolved or it can indicate a serious failed device issue. In most cases, you can fix the problem either by downloading new device drivers or by using basic Windows tools to clean up the file system. If the damage is serious, however, you may need to replace the external device.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Turn off the device and disconnect it. Reconnect the device and turn it back on. Sometimes a simple reset of this type will solve the issue.

  2. 2

    To update the device drivers for the printer or hard drive, go to the device manufacturer's website and click on the "Support" option. Locate and click on the "Drivers" option. Select the "Download" option, and click the downloaded icon twice to start the installation wizard. Reboot the computer when it finishes, and try to use the external device again.

  3. 3

    Scan your computer for viruses, as the moving of corrupt data or files will cause a input/output error. Click your antivirus icon from the taskbar next to the time. Locate the "Scan" option, and choose the "C:" drive as the drive to scan. Follow the remaining scan wizard instructions to complete the scan. Expect a virus scan to take a couple of hours.

  4. 4

    Download and install a reliable registry cleaner like CCleaner, Eusing or AML Free Registry Cleaner (see Resources.) Open the program and click the "Scan" or "Clean" option. This will reorganise and clean all of the registry files that can cause input-output errors.

  5. 5

    Run a check disk and defragmentation on an external hard drive that is causing the problem. Right-click the hard drive that is causing the error (in most cases, this is "D:," "E:" or "F:"), and select "Properties." Select the "Check Disk" button, and wait for Windows to fix any hard drive errors. Click the "Tools" tab, and press the "Defragment" button to allow the operating system to remove any fragmentation on the drive. Expect this to take several hours to complete.

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