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Walter Glenn Former Editorial Director

Walter Glenn is a former  Editorial Director for How-To Geek and its sister sites. He has more than 30 years of experience in the computer industry và over  đôi mươi years as a technical writer and editor. He"s written hundreds of articles for How-To Geek và edited thousands. He"s authored or co-authored over 30 computer-related books in more than a dozen languages for publishers like Microsoft Press, O"Reilly, & Osborne/McGraw-Hill. He"s also written hundreds of trắng papers, articles, user manuals, & courseware over the years. Read more...

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Updated Jul 3, 2017, 1:36 pm EDT | 7 min read

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Any time you have hard drive errors—or even strange behavior you might not at first associate with a hard drive—Cheông chồng Disk can be a lifesaver. Here’s a full guide to using the Check Disk tool that comes with every version of Windows.


What Chkdsk Does (& When lớn Use It)

The Cheông chồng Disk utility, also known as chkdsk (since that’s the command you use to lớn run it) scans through your entire hard drive khổng lồ find & fix problems. It’s not a terribly exciting tool—và running it can take some time—but it can really help prevent bigger problems & loss of data in the long run. Chkdsk performs a couple of functions, depending on how it’s run:

Chkdsk’s basic function is to lớn scan the integrity of the file system & file system metadata on a disk volume and fix any logical file system errors that it finds. Such errors might include corrupt entries in a volume’s master tệp tin table (MFT), bad security descriptors associated with files, or even misaligned time stamp or tệp tin form size information about individual files. Chkdsk can also optionally scan every sector on a disk volume looking for bad sectors. Bad sectors come in two forms: soft bad sectors, that can occur when data is written badly, & hard bad sectors that can occur because of physical damage to lớn the disk. Chkdsk attempts to lớn fix these problems by repairing soft bad sectors, & marking hard bad sectors so they won’t be used again.

That may all sound very technical, but don’t worry: you don’t need lớn understand the ins & outs of how it works lớn know when you should run it.

We recommend running chkdsk every few months as part of routine maintenance along with using a S.M.A.R.T. tool for drives that support it. You should also consider running it any time Windows has shut down abnormally—such as after a power loss or system crash. Sometimes Windows will automatically run a scan during startup, but most often you’ll have to vày it yourself. Even if you’re just having strange problems with apps not loading or crashing that you haven’t been able to lớn resolve sầu another way, you might consider checking the disk.

For example: I once had a problem where Outlook suddenly started crashing on me shortly after loading. After a lot of troubleshooting, a chkdsk scan revealed I had bad sectors where my Outlook data file was stored. Fortunately, chkdsk was able to recover the sectors in my case, & everything went baông xã khổng lồ normal afterward.

RELATED: Bad Sectors Explained: Why Hard Drives Get Bad Sectors và What You Can Do About It

If chkdsk does encounter problems—especially hard bad sectors—that it can’t repair, data can become unusable. It’s not very likely, but it can happen. For that reason, you should always make sure you have sầu a good backup routine in place and baông chồng up your PC before running chkdsk.


The chkdsk tool works pretty much the same in all versions of Windows. We’ll be working with Windows 10 in this article, so the screens may look slightly different if you’re using Windows 7 or 8, but chkdsk performs the same, và we’ll point out where any procedures differ. We’ll also talk about running it from the Comm& Prompt, in cases where you can’t even boot inkhổng lồ Windows.

How to Cheông chồng a Disk from Windows

Running the Chechồng Disk tool from the Windows desktop is easy. In File Explorer, right-cliông xã the drive sầu you want khổng lồ kiểm tra, và then choose “Properties.”

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In the properties window, switch to the “Tools” tab and then cliông xã the “Check” button. In Windows 7, the button is named “Check now.”

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In Windows 8 và 10, Windows may inkhung you that it hasn’t found any errors on the drive. You can still perkhung a manual scan by clicking “Scan drive.” This will first perkhung a scan without attempting any repairs, so it will not restart your PC at this point. If the quiông xã disk scan reveals any problems, Windows will present that option khổng lồ you. If you want to lớn force it, though, you’ll have to lớn use the commvà prompt to lớn run chkdsk—something we’ll be covering a bit later in the article.

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After Windows scans your drive, if no errors were found, you can just click “Cchiến bại.”

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In Windows 7, when you click the “Cheông xã now” button, you’ll see a dialog that lets you choose a couple of extra options—namely whether you also want khổng lồ automatically fix tệp tin system errors & scan for bad sectors. If you want lớn perkhung the most thorough disk kiểm tra, go ahead & select both options và then cliông xã “Start.” Just be aware that if you add a sector scan khổng lồ the phối, checking the disk can take quite a while. It may be something you want to bởi vì when you don’t need your computer for a few hours.

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If you elect lớn fix tệp tin system errors or scan for bad sectors, Windows won’t be able to lớn perkhung a scan while the disk is in use. If that happens, you’ll have the option khổng lồ cancel the scan or schedule a disk check to lớn happen the next time you restart Windows.

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How to Cheông xã Up On or Cancel a Scheduled Disk Check

If you’re not sure whether a disk check is scheduled for your next restart, it’s easy enough lớn check at the Comm& Prompt. You’ll need to run Commvà Prompt with administrative sầu privileges. Press Start & then type “command prompt.” Right-click the result and then choose “Run as administrator.”

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At the prompt, type the following command—substituting the drive sầu letter if necessary.

chkntfs c:

If you have sầu scheduled a manual check of the drive sầu, you’ll see a message khổng lồ that effect.

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If Windows has scheduled an automatic check of the drive, you’ll see a message letting you know that the volume is dirty, which just means it’s been flagged with potential errors. This serves as indication that Windows will run a kiểm tra the next time it starts. If no automatic scan is scheduled, you’ll just see a message letting you know that the volume is not dirty.

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If a disk kiểm tra is scheduled for the next time you start Windows, but have sầu decided you don’t want the check to lớn happen, you can cancel the check by typing the following command:

chkntfs /x c:

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You won’t get any kind of feedbaông chồng that the scan has been cancelled, but it will have sầu been. This commvà actually excludes the drive sầu from the chkdsk commvà for the next start. If you vị restart lớn find that a scan has been scheduled, Windows is also kind enough khổng lồ provide you with about ten seconds khổng lồ skip the scan if you want khổng lồ.

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How to Use the ChkDsk Comm& at the Commvà Prompt

If you’re willing khổng lồ use the Command Prompt (or you have sầu to lớn because Windows won’t boot properly), you can exert a little more control over the disk checking process. Plus, if you’re using Windows 8 or 10, it’s the only way khổng lồ force automatic fixing or bad sector scanning into lớn the mix. mở cửa up the Comm& Prompt with administrative privileges by hitting Windows+X và selecting “Commvà Prompt (Admin).” You’ll be using the chkdsk commvà. The command supports a number of optional switches, but we’re mostly concerned with two of them: /f and /r .

If you just use the chkdsk command by itself, it will scan your drive sầu in read-only mode, reporting errors but not attempting lớn repair them. For this reason, it can usually run without having lớn restart your PC.

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If you want chkdsk khổng lồ attempt to lớn repair logical file system errors during the scan, add the /f switch. chú ý that if the drive sầu has files that are in use (và it probably will), you’ll be asked to schedule a scan for the next restart.

chkdsk /f c:

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If you want chkdsk to scan for bad sectors as well, you’ll use the /r switch. When you use the /r switch, the /f switch is implied, meaning that chkdsk will scan for both logical errors và bad sectors. But while it’s not really necessary, it also won’t hurt anything if you throw both the /r và /f switches on the comm& at the same time.

chkdsk /r c:

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Running chkdsk /r gives you the most thorough scan you can perkhung on a volume, & if you have some time khổng lồ spare for the sector check, we highly recommkết thúc running it at least periodically.

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There are, of course, other parameters you can use with chkdsk . So, for the sake of completeness—& your geeky enjoyment—here they are:

C:>chkdsk /? Checks a disk and displays a status report. CHKDSK filename>>> > volume Specifies the drive sầu letter (followed by a colon), mount point, or volume name. filename FAT/FAT32 only: Specifies the files khổng lồ check for fragmentation. /F Fixes errors on the disk. /V On FAT/FAT32: Displays the full path và name of every file on the disk. On NTFS: Displays cleanup messages if any. /R Locates bad sectors and recovers readable information (implies /F). /L:form size NTFS only: Changes the log file kích thước khổng lồ the specified number of kilobytes. If form size is not specified, displays current kích thước. /X Forces the volume khổng lồ dismount first if necessary. All opened handles khổng lồ the volume would then be invalid (implies /F). /I NTFS only: Performs a less vigorous kiểm tra of index entries. /C NTFS only: Skips checking of cycles within the folder structure. /B NTFS only: Re-evaluates bad clusters on the volume (implies /R) The /I or /C switch reduces the amount of time required to lớn run Chkdsk by skipping certain checks of the volume.

Hopefully, Chkdsk will fix whatever hard drive problems you may have sầu, và you can go baông xã lớn using your computer normally.


READ NEXT › How khổng lồ Connect a Mouse và Keyboard to lớn Your Xbox › How to Clear “Watch Later” on YouTube › How to lớn Increase FPS in Games on a Laptop › How khổng lồ Set Up Samsung Pay on a Samsung Galaxy Watch › How lớn Propose a New Time for a Microsoft Outlook Event
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Walter Glenn Walter Glenn is a former  Editorial Director for How-To Geek và its sister sites. He has more than 30 years of experience in the computer industry và over  20 years as a technical writer & editor. He"s written hundreds of articles for How-To Geek và edited thousands. He"s authored or co-authored over 30 computer-related books in more than a dozen languages for publishers lượt thích Microsoft Press, O"Reilly, and Osborne/McGraw-Hill. He"s also written hundreds of trắng papers, articles, user manuals, và courseware over the years. Read Full Bio »

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