[Tutorial] Use ‘Check Disk’ to fix hard drive errors in Windows

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Check Disk

Searching for solutions about your hard drive issues on the Internet reveals a simple truth: everybody likes Check Disk or chkdsk, the Windows tool that can scan your hard drive for errors and apply fixes automatically. The utility actually scans the entire drive and frequently reveals problems even in PCs that are seemingly OK. A lot of people will even recommend that you run the tool at least once a month in order to ensure your hard drive continues to be in good health.

Of course, the Check Disk process takes a very considerable amount of time (hours in many cases), especially on slower systems, so users are not that compelled to run the tool frequently. But if you already know there is something wrong with your drive, there is no time to waste.

Using Check Disk via a drive’s properties

Though many people are already familiar with the CMD version of Check Disk, there is also a GUI alternative via a drive’s properties.

  1. Open File/Windows Explorer.
  2. Right-click on the injured drive and select “Properties”.
  3. Go to the Tools tab.
  4. Click on the “Check now” button under the Error-checking item.
  5. Both options should be checked in the window that pops up in order to perform a full scan. You can also run the tool using only the first option but that scan will not cover everything.
  6. If the drive you are attempting to fix is not currently in use, clicking on “Start” will instantly run Check Disk. But if you are trying to run the tool on your system’s drive, clicking on “Start” will instead pop up a message asking you to schedule the disk check for the next time your computer boots up. Restarting your computer will initiate the scan automatically otherwise it will happen the next time you start up your PC.

Windows 10 Check Disk

Do note that the above does not apply to Windows 10. In Microsoft’s latest OS, users can complete a fast version of the Check Disk utility right then and there while the computer is still on. Clicking on the Check button when there are no issues on the computer will also prompt a message informing the user that Windows has not detected any errors on the hard drive. At that point you will have to click on the “Scan Drive” option to continue. The older options may still be there for some computers, however, so it is still worth checking.

Using Check Disk via CMD

The above method is absolutely fine for most cases but running Check Disk in CMD means you can apply additional options depending on what you need. Before you do anything else, open your Start Menu, type cmd.exe and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open an elevated command prompt which is simply a fancy way of saying you are running CMD as an administrator. The basic Check Disk command is as follows:

Chkdsk /f /r C:

Check Disk CMD

The above command is like checking both options from the interface of the previous method. Basically, Check Disk will run a full check so this is the command you usually want to go with. For a quicker and simpler scan, run this command:

Chkdsk /f C:

Check Disk Lite

Adding the following parameters will reduce the time it takes for chkdsk to run as the tool will perform more simplified scans. You should only use them if you want to perform a quick check in any drive as these parameters make chkdsk less useful.

Chkdsk /f C: /i /c

Check Disk Additional Parameters

Regardless of the command you choose, Check Disk will not run on the system drive as long as your computer is on. Instead, CMD will ask you if you would like to schedule the check for the next time the system restarts. When that happens, type Y and press Enter to confirm.

Cancelling a scheduled Disk Check

While you should not attempt to stop Disk Check from running after it has already started, you can cancel scheduled checks at any time. To start with, open an elevated command prompt window like I showed you above. Then, run the following command to see if there is a scheduled Disk Check:

Chkntfs C:

Check Disk Scheduled

This command will show you a number of different things. The messages are shown in plain English so you will be able to tell if there is a scheduled Disk Check. The command will also inform you about the “dirty” status of your drive.

Check Disk Schedule Check

Windows marks sometimes marks drives as “dirty” when the PC shuts down abnormally or when something occurs during boot up. When the drives receive this dubious honor, Disk Check is scheduled automatically. To cancel the scheduled run, enter this command:

Chkntfs /x C:

Check Disk Cancel

There is no confirmation but if you get no errors, it means the command has worked. Of course, you can always check with the previous command as well.