How to Use CHKDSK to Scan and Repair Hard Drives in Windows 10

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How to Use CHKDSK to Scan and Repair Hard Drives in Windows 10

CHKDSK (pronounced “Check Disk”) is a highly helpful and important utility for checking the health of your disk drive. This utility does a multipass scan of a disk to ensure that it is sound and operating. Doing CHKDSK to check your drives are working properly is a terrific method to speed up Windows 10, and we recommend using it every few months to keep your drives safe and healthy.

How to Scan & Fix Hard Drives with CHKDSK in Windows 10

In this post, we’ll define CHKDSK, explain how it works, and show you how to use it to repair your hard drive in Windows 10.

How CHKDSK Works

CHKDSK begins by scanning the disk drive’s file system and examining the integrity of the drive’s contents, file system, and file metadata.

When CHKDSK detects logical file system problems, it repairs them in situ while preserving the data on the disk to ensure that nothing is lost. Corrupted entries in the drive’s master file table (MFT), a table that informs the drive how files are related in the murky labyrinths of the drive’s hardware, are examples of logical file system faults.

CHKDSK also corrects mismatched time stamps, file size data, and security flags on the drive’s files. Then, CHKDSK may do a full scan of the drive, accessing and testing every sector of the hardware. Hard drives are separated into logical sectors, which are predetermined sections of the disk where a certain amount of data will be kept.

Sectors may have soft errors, which occur when data is improperly recorded to the magnetic medium, or hard errors, which occur when the drive itself has a physical flaw in the region defined as a sector. CHKDSK addresses hard mistakes by designating that part of the disk as damaged and ‘out of limits’ for future usage and cures soft errors by replacing the defective data.

Because CHKDSK has been updated and enhanced with each new generation of storage technology, the application continues to function properly in analyzing and repairing hard disks of all types. The same method that was previously used to examine a 160K floppy drive may now be used to study a 15 terabyte SSD.

Running CHKDSK on Windows 10

Although there are various methods to execute CHKDSK on a Windows 10 PC, the Windows PowerShell, the planned successor for Windows Command Prompt, is by far the most popular and typical location to run the application.

However, since CHKDSK communicates directly with drive hardware, it needs administrator rights in the operating system. This simply implies that CHKDSK may operate as if it were the account in command of the machine.

    Windows Menu
  1. A User Account Control (UAC) box will display next, asking for permission to activate the Windows Command Processor and make modifications to the PC. Choose Yes.
  2. Windows PowerShell
  3. If you’re experiencing trouble executing the above command because the disk is in use by another process, it’s because you’re attempting to scan your main drive (boot drive) when the OS is using it. To execute the scan, either reboot into recovery mode or build a Windows Recovery Tool.
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The basic CHKDSK command, “chkdsk [drive]”, will scan the disk and show status information, but it will not repair any faults that are found.

As a result, in order to run CHKDSK in a mode where it will truly correct issues that it detects, additional options must be specified. Parameters are extra commands appended to the end of a Windows PowerShell program, using “/” characters before each parameter. In this scenario, we entered “chkdsk c: /x /r” to get CHKDSK to do a complete scan and repair pass.

The “/r” argument does the same thing as “/f,” which resolves disk errors and also instructs CHKDSK to seek any damaged sectors and recover any readable data it finds. The “/x” argument instructs CHKDSK to unmount the disk (remove it off the operating system) before starting the procedure.

Additional CHKDSK Parameters

CHKDSK offers a vast set of optional options that may be used to alter the program’s behavior.

  • Volume> – You may provide a drive letter (with a colon) or volume name using the Volume parameter. You do not need the and > characters.
  • [Path>]FileName> – The Path and FileName arguments are only applicable to drives that employ the FAT or FAT32 organizational models. You may provide the location and name of a file or series of files for which you want CHKDSK to check for fragmentation using Path and FileName. To specify several files, use the? and * wildcard characters.
  • /f – The /f argument tells CHKDSK to really repair disk problems. The disk has to be locked. If CHKSDK is unable to lock the drive, a notice displays informing you that you should check the disk the next time you restart the computer.
  • /v – As the disk is examined, the /v argument shows the name of each file in each directory.
  • /r – The /r option searches for faulty sectors and restores legible data. The disk has to be locked. /r has the same capability as /f, but it also analyzes physical disk issues.
  • /x – If required, the /x argument requires the volume to dismount first. All open drives’ handles are invalidated. /x also provides /f functionality.
  • /i – The /i argument may only be used with an NTFS-formatted disk. This speeds up CHKDSK by doing a less thorough search of index entries, reducing the time necessary to execute CHKDSK.
  • /c – The /c argument is likewise only available on NTFS disks. This instructs CHKDSK not to verify cycles inside the folder hierarchy, reducing the time necessary to perform CHKDSK.
  • /l[:Size>] – The /i argument is only applicable to NTFS. It adjusts the size of the resultant log file to the value you provide. If the size option is not specified, /l shows the current size.
  • /b – The /b argument is only applicable to NTFS. It clears the volume’s list of problematic clusters and rescans all allocated and free clusters for faults. The functionality of /r is included in /b. After imaging a volume to a new hard disk drive, use this option.
  • /? – The /? parameter shows a help file that includes this list of parameters as well as additional instructions for using CHKDSK.
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To summarize, the whole command to enter into the Command Prompt or PowerShell is:

chkdsk [Drive:] [parameters]

In our example, it’s:

chkdsk C: /x /r

Using CHKDSK on a Boot Drive

A boot drive is the partition of your hard disk from which your computer boots. Boot partitions are unique in many ways, one of which is that they need particular processing in order for CHKDSK to work with them.

CHKDSK must be able to lock any boot drive it scans, which means it cannot investigate the system boot disk while the machine is running. If your target drive is an external or non-booting internal disk, the CHKDSK operation will begin as soon as we input the aforementioned command.

If the destination drive is a boot disk, the system will prompt you to perform the command before the next boot. When you type “yes” (or “y”) and restart the machine, the command will execute before the operating system boots, giving it complete access to the drive.

A CHKDSK command may take a long time to complete, particularly on bigger drives. However, once completed, it will provide a summary of findings, including total disk space, byte allocation, and, most importantly, any faults discovered and fixed.

CHKDSK In Previous Editions of Windows

Because the CHKDSK command is accessible in all versions of Windows, anyone operating Windows 7, 8, or XP may also conduct the procedures outlined above to begin a hard disk scan.

  1. Users using previous versions of Windows may access the Command Prompt by navigating to Start > Run and entering “cmd.”
  2. When the Command Prompt result is presented, right-click on it and choose Run as administrator to allow the software the required permissions to properly run CHKDSK.
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One word of caution: if you run CHKDSK on an older hard drive, you may discover that your hard drive space has been drastically decreased. This is the outcome of a failing hard drive, since one of the main responsibilities of CHKDSK is to detect and block faulty sectors on the drive.

A few faulty sectors on an old drive are usually unnoticeable by the user, but if the drive is failing or has major issues, you might have a large number of defective sectors that, when mapped and blocked by CHKDSK, seem to “steal” considerable sections of your hard disk’s capacity.

Other Ways to Launch CHKDSK

If you detest using the command line, there are other methods for running CHKDSK on your PC. The most direct route is probably via Windows Explorer.

    Windows File Explorer
    C Disk Drive Properties - Tool Tab

Frequently Asked Questions

Does chkdsk work on an external drive?

Yes, the chkdsk command may be used on an external disk. All you have to do is provide the drive in the command when it is executed.

Here’s an example:

1. As indicated above, launch Windows Power Shell or Command Prompt as an Administrator.

Windows PowerShell
2. Then, type in “chkdsk d: /f“, and hit Enter.

The external drive is identified as the D drive in this example, and the /f command scans the disks and tries to repair them.

How do you view the output logs of the chkdsk scan?

Run - Event Viewer
1. Type Windows key + R at the same time to open the Run program, type in “eventvwr“, and hit Enter.
Event Viewer
2. Now, click on Windows Logs.
Event Viewer 2
3. Next, click on Application.

4. Now, go through the logs and seek for Wininit in the Source tab; you’re looking for the one with chkdsk information in the General tab.

How do you scan a drive with CHKDSK that’s in use?

When scanning a drive using chkdsk, a notice saying the disk is still in use may appear. If this occurs to you, you’ll need to either unmount the device or boot up a flash drive with Windows Recovery Tools.

Final Thoughts

CHKDSK is a very effective program for scanning and repairing hard disks on Windows 10 systems. You may use this useful capability to enhance your PC’s performance and repair drive problems by following the procedures indicated above.

How do you check and repair disk issues in Windows 10? Leave your opinions in the comments section below.

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