In-depth

How to run Chkdsk

Find out how to run a disk check on Windows 10 and older versions of Windows

Image of the chkdsk process underway on a Windows machine

Check Disk, also known as the Chkdsk function, can be used to seek out and repair hard drive issues on widely-used operating systems. This powerful tool analyses the hard drive to prevent major issues from spiralling out of control and resulting in hardware corruption. The procedure can be lengthy, however, and take time to complete.

Chkdsk can be triggered in a number of different ways and perform a small variety of functions, from scanning the integrity of a file system and its metadata, as well as fix any errors it encounters. The issues that this tool can resolve include weak security descriptors tied with files, corrupt entries in a volume’s master file table, timestamps that have been entered incorrectly, and whole file size information too.

This can also be used to scan for all sectors on a disk volume for signs of corruption, with issues taking the form of soft or hard ‘bad’ sectors. Soft bad sectors arise when there’s an error in the way the disk write process is interpreted, while hard bad sectors might be caused by physical damage to a disk. Chkdsk aims to mitigate these problems by repairing any soft bad sectors and flagging the hard bad sectors and making sure these aren’t being used.

Chkdsk for Windows

Most Windows systems have the means to use Chkdsk, from Windows 7 to the latest version of Windows 10. Users of legacy Windows systems, including Vista or XP, can also trigger Chkdsk to analyse their hard drives for any bad sectors or issues. The tool can normally be triggered for each hard drive, or even individual partitions, as you boot into windows. 

Chkdsk can also be run using Command Prompt, if running it from the operating system is not feasible. You can either use Recovery Mode, or the original installation medium to boot and then run Command Prompt in order to run Chkdsk this way.

Using Chkdsk via Command Prompt

Step one: Go to the Start Menu once you've successfully booted your machine and search for the 'run' application.

Step two: Enter 'cmd' into the box and search.

Step three: When the Command Prompt window appears, you only need to type 'chkdsk' to begin the scanning process.

A screenshot of the chkdsk command being run on Command Prompt in Windows 10

Step four: Things begin to get a little more technical here, but you'll need to type 'chkdsk' followed by a specific command to repair any errors you may encounter. 

To repair errors without scanning for any bad sectors, type 'chkdsk volume :/r' and press enter, where 'volume' is the letter of the drive you'd like to scan, whether it's C or D, or otherwise. To repair errors and scan for bad sectors, type 'chkdsk 'volume': /r' and press enter. As with the previous command, the volume is the letter of the drive you'd like to repair.

From My Computer

To run Chkdsk from within Windows, but without Command Prompt, you need to go to on 'This PC', right-click on the hard disk you'd like to run the utility on and then click 'properties'. From there click 'Tools' and select 'Check' under the 'Error checking' section.

To repair errors without scanning for bad sectors, select the 'Automatically fix file system errors' box and to repair errors and scan for bad sectors, select the 'Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors' box. The utility will notify you if the scan finds any errors or not.

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