5 Different Ways to Run Windows Check Disk (ChkDsk)

There are many things that can go wrong while you are using your computer. One of the hardware components could develop a fault or alternatively there could be crashing, instability and other problems with Windows itself. With Windows there are many different methods to try and fix problems including running file checks or applying registry fixes, but there are times when this won’t fix it and something else is the cause.

One of the common issues of instability, errors or Windows not even booting at all is when the file system becomes corrupted which can lead to files becoming unreadable or inaccessible. For a long time Windows has had a tool built in which is able to scan a flash drive, hard disk or SSD drive for file system or hard errors, and attempt to fix them. Check Disk is the tool and often Windows will automatically run a scan using Check Disk on Windows startup if it thinks one is needed.

If you need to manually run Check Disk to fix suspected errors, there are a few ways you can do it. Here we show a variety of different methods to get Check Disk running 1. Run Check Disk From Command Prompt

For the more advanced or tech savvy user, running Check Disk from the command line is a useful method that can offer more options and is essentially a text based version of the user interface found in Windows. The ChkDsk command can be used in batch scripts or directly from Command Prompt.

1. Open a Command Prompt. For Windows 8.1 and 10 right click on Start and select Command Prompt (Admin). Windows 7 users press Start and type cmd into the search box, then press Ctrl+Shift+Enter to open Command Prompt with the required administrator privileges.

2. The basic Check Disk syntax is quite simple:

Chkdsk [drive:] [/f to fix or /r to recover bad sectors] [/x force dismount of drive]

To run a simple scan for errors just supply the drive letter:

Chkdsk C:

chkdsk from command prompt

To scan and fix errors use /f or /r to scan for bad sectors and fix the errors. This second option will take a long time as all drive sectors will be scanned and those that are damaged will be repaired.

Chkdsk C: /f or Chkdsk C: /r

Note you can use either /f or /r but don’t need to use both. The /x option can be used to dismount a drive before repairing although this won’t work on the C drive and it will still need to be checked and repaired during the next boot.


2. Third Party Disk Checking Tools

Using a separate program to run a drive scan and fix is not essential but does have some small advantages, such as being able to scan several disks one after the other or you can use one if there are issues with the built in Check Disk UI. They are in effect a frontend for the Check Disk command so Chkdsk.exe still needs to be present on the system. Here are 3 that work on Windows XP to Windows 10.

CheckDiskGUI

checkdiskgui

CheckDiskGUI has all the basic functions needed for running Check Disk from a portable front end. You can select multiple drives for scanning along with the standard options of scan only, fix (/f) or fix and recover (/r). The column which tells you if Windows has marked the drive as dirty and having a problem is a useful piece of information. There are some more advanced settings in the Options menu such as rescanning clusters, less vigorous index checks and reading the log from a boot time scan. The log can also be saved or printed from the File menu.

Download CheckDiskGUI

Puran Disk Check

Puran_disk_check

Disk Check normally requires installation but you can easily extract the setup file with Universal Extractor, then simply look in the {app} folder and run either the 32-bit version (Disk Check,1.exe) or 64-bit version (Disk Check,2.exe). They are standalone executables and can be copied to any location. Scan, fix (/f) and recover (/r) modes are available. You can run scans of multiple drives sequentially by ticking multiple boxes or even schedule a fix and recover scan at boot time.

Download Puran Disk Check

Check Disk GUI

check disk gui

This small tool is a plugin for the now discontinued BartPE bootable rescue disk and is a pure front end for the Check Disk command. Download it, extract the Zip and run the small executable, select the drive to scan and choose the mode of scan only, fix errors (/f) or recover bad sectors (/r). A command line window will open on the left of the screen to run Chkdsk.exe with the chosen parameters. The Autoit source is still available for anyone wanting to edit the program for their specific needs.

Download Check Disk GUI


3. Check a Drive From Windows Explorer

The obvious and easiest way to run a check on a drive is to do it through the standard user interface with Windows Explorer. It’s also the easiest thing to do for helping a non tech savvy user over the telephone or online chat as everything is point and click based.

1. From the Desktop, Start Menu or the Explorer Taskbar icon open Computer/This PC, right click on the drive to be scanned and click Properties. Go to the Tools tab and press the Check (now) button in the Error checking section.

windows check for errors

2. The type of popup window that gets displayed depends on your operating system.

a) For Windows 7 a small box will appear and the option to “Automatically fix file system errors” will be pre ticked. The longer “Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors” is optional.

windows 7 check disk window

To let Check Disk scan and fix any errors it finds simply press Start. If you are scanning and fixing the C drive Windows will need to do this on the next boot as it can’t fix errors while the drive is in use. Press the Schedule disk check button if the popup appears.

b) For Windows 8 and 10 disk checking has been improved and disks are periodically scanned during scheduled maintenance, so most of the time they will not need manually scanning.

windows_10_check_disk

You can still run a scan even if it says you don’t need to, just press the Scan drive button. If errors are found it will then inform you there are errors that need to be fixed, a reboot will be required if the fixes to be performed are on the system C drive.


4. Run Check Disk from the Windows DVD

If your computer is having trouble booting and you want to run a Check Disk on the system drive, things become slightly trickier as Windows needs to be running to be able to use it. One solution in this event is booting to the Windows install DVD and running Chkdsk from a Command Prompt.

1. Firstly an install media for is required for the operating system. If you don’t already have one, download a Windows 7, 8.1 or 10 ISO image direct from Microsoft and then burn it to DVD or write to USB flash drive.

2. Restart the computer with the optical disk or USB drive inserted and boot to it. Press any key when prompted to boot to the Windows CD/DVD.

3. At the language and keyboard selection screen press Shift+F10 to open a Command Prompt. What is usually the system C drive may not be here because if there is a system reserved partition it will occupy C instead. To find out type Dir C: and if it says “C is System Reserved” try Dir D: and so on until you find the drive with Program Files, Users and Windows folders.

find windows drive from cmd

4. Now you know the assigned letter for the system drive you can run Check Disk the same way as from the Command Prompt within Windows, such as “chkdsk D: /f” or “chkdsk C: /r”.

Tip: If you don’t have a Windows install ISO image and don’t want to download 2GB+ of data to get one, create a system repair disk from within Windows which is only a few hundred Megabytes and still allows an offline Check Disk. Go to Control Panel > Backup and restore > Create a system repair disk and create a disk with the utility. The Shift+F10 option does not work from the repair disk and you will need to go through the keyboard select screen to reach the open Command Prompt option.


5. Run ChkDsk From a Bootable Rescue Disk

Another way to run Check Disk if you are unable to boot into Windows is loading a Windows based rescue disk. There are several disks around that make use of the Windows Preinstall Environment (Windows PE) where you can load a cutdown version of Windows from a CD/DVD or USB.

Hiren’s BootCD

Hiren has long been one of favorite repair and recovery bootable disks because of the sheer amount of useful tools available on it. Sadly it hasn’t had an official update since 2012 and newer technologies like UEFI, Secure Boot and GPT cause problems as well as a lack of newer drivers in the Mini Windows XP. That said, Hiren’s BootCD is still a highly valuable tool for older computers.

hiren chkdsk script

When booting the CD you need to run MiniXP which is a live version of Windows XP, this includes both the Command line version of Check Disk, the Windows user interface version and also a batch script which simplifies the command line version. To use the script go to Start > Programs > Check Disk and enter the drive letter from the list of available volumes. The /f fix and /x dismount arguments are automatically applied so for a deeper scan one of the other two ways to run Check Disk from MiniXP will be required.

Download Hiren’s BootCD

Gandalf’s Windows PE Disks

The Gandalf Windows PE disks are a bit like updated versions of Hiren’s MiniXP but are instead based on Windows 7, 8.1 or 10. They contain tons of tools and each version is a usable Windows environment direct from DVD or USB. The ISO sizes range from 500MB up to 4GB and you will need at least 2GB of RAM to run the PE Windows properly. If Hiren’s MiniXP doesn’t recognize the drive to scan then try one of these.

gandalf winpe check disk

Some releases such as the Windows 10 version, have the BartPE Check Disk GUI included which can be accessed from Start > All Programs > HD Taks > Diagnostic. Alternatively, open Command Prompt from the desktop or taskbar shortcuts and run Check Disk manually using the standard syntax. Like the Windows DVD method to run Check Disk, you will need to check the drive letters and make sure you are scanning the correct volume.

Download Gandalf’s Windows PE Disks

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