How to run Chkdsk

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

Woman working at a computer

Chkdsk, short for 'check disk', is a system tool that can fix hard drive errors on certain types of computer operating system.

It scans through your entire hard drive in order to help prevent major problems from developing that would otherwise lead to data corruption - although it can take a while to run.

Chkdsk can perform a number of functions, depending on how it's run. Firstly, it's able to scan the integrity of a file system and its metadata on a disk volume and fix any errors it finds. These might be corrupt entries in a volume's master file table, bad security descriptors linked to files, or even incorrect time stamps and file size information.

It's also capable of scanning every sector on a disk volume to check for corruption. Bad sectors come in two forms, namely 'soft' and 'hard'. The former happens when the process of writing data to the disk is interrupted, and the latter is often due to physical damage to the disk. Chkdsk will attempt to address these sectors by repairing the soft ones and marking the hard ones so they're not used again.

Chkdsk for Windows

Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 or 8.1, and Windows 10 all support the chkdsk function.If you can boot into Windows, you can run the check disk utility on each hard drive or partition you have available in My Computer.

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If booting from the OS is not an option, you can run the tool from Command Prompt. To do this, you can either use the Recovery Mode or the original installation disc to boot and then run Command Prompt.

Command Prompt

To run the utility from the Command Prompt, go to the start menu once you've successfully booted your computer and click 'run'. Enter 'cmd' into the box. When the window appears you can type 'chkdsk' and start the process.

From here, things get a little more technical, but to repair errors you need to type chkdsk with command after it: So, to repair errors without scanning for any bad sectors, type 'chkdsk volume: /f' and press enter, where volume is the letter of the drive you'd like to run a scan on, for example, 'C' or 'D'.

To repair errors and scan for bad sectors, type 'chkdsk volume: /r' and press enter. Same again, the volume is the letter of the drive you'd like to repair.

From My Computer

To run Chkdsk from within Windows XP, but without Command Prompt, you need to go to on 'My Computer', 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 Now' at the error-checking tab.

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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