How to run Chkdsk on Windows

Image of the chkdsk process underway on a Windows machine

The Chkdsk function is a tool capable of seeking out and repairing hard drive issues on Windows 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 is somewhat in-depth and can take some time to complete.

The Chkdsk function is handy for identifying potential problems with a storage device, and can perform a variety of functions, from fixing issues to assessing the integrity of a system file. Chkdsk is particularly efficient at fixing corrupted master file tables, weak security descriptors, and incorrectly entered timestamps.

The tool is also good for scanning sectors for signs of corruption that may be degrading overall performance. The tool checks specifically for so-called 'soft' or 'hard' bad sectors.

Soft bad sectors are those that have become corrupted during the write process, while hard bad sectors are the result of physical damage to the device. The Chkdsk function is useful for handling these bad sectors, as it's able to repair the soft ones, and isolate the hard ones so they're not used.

How to run Chkdsk

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.

There are a number of ways to run the Chkdsk function. One popular method is to use the Command Prompt, which is handy if you're unable to access the desktop. 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.

How to run Chkdsk using a Command Prompt

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  1. Open the Command Prompt either using Safe Mode or by typing 'cmd' into the Windows search box and running the Command Prompt application
  2. Type 'chkdsk volume :/r' into the Command Prompt window, replacing 'volume' with the letter associated with the drive you would like to scan
  3. Wait for the process to finish

How to run the Chkdsk function without using Command Prompt

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  1. Open 'This PC', which is found in your folder directory
  2. Right click the hard drive you would like to scan
  3. Click Properties
  4. Click the Tools tab
  5. Under Error Checking, click Check

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.

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.