Check Disk, commonly known as chkdsk, is a vital Windows utility to monitor the health of your disks. Whenever your hard drives start acting up and you start getting disk errors, the Check Disk utility can be a boon to have.
But, with dozens of chkdsk command parameters out there, it can be a confusing prospect to know when to use the chkdsk command and which parameters to call. To aid you in your task of maintaining the health of your drives, here’s everything you need to know to run the chkdsk repair command.
What is chkdsk and what does it do?
The Check Disk utility is integral to Windows and is used to scan the (non-physical) hard drives of your PC and ensure that they are free of corrupt files.
Check Disk analyzes the integrity of the file system and the file metadata on a disk and looks for logical and physical errors. Logical errors are corrupted entries in the disk’s master file table (an important structure that tells the drive how the files are arranged) and are fixed automatically by the Check Disk utility.
Check Disk fixes minor issues like time stamp misalignments and file size data on the drive while bigger problems like physical errors are marked and flagged so that they are not used and the damage is contained. All this ensures that the data on the disk is not compromised and your disk remains healthy and functional.
Even though the workings of the Check Disk utility are not easy to understand, one doesn’t exactly need to know the particulars to know when to run it.
When to use chkdsk (Check Disk) on Windows
Running the Chkdsk utility is recommended if your computer starts showing boot errors, including, but not limited to ones listed below:
- Blue Screen of Death errors
- Fatal error reading boot.ini
Besides these, if you find that your disks are throwing errors ever so often and a lot of files are getting corrupt, running chkdsk should be able to scan and fix the soft bad sectors for you.
These problems can arise due to a variety of reasons. If your system shuts down by itself or you experience system crashes frequently, you can expect system file corruption to take place over time.
How to use the chkdsk repair command
The Check Disk utility is run by a simple chkdsk repair command, which can be run using either the Command Prompt or PowerShell. You will, however, need to run your chosen Windows terminal with administrator privileges. To do so, press Start, type cmd, and then click on Run as administrator.
Now, type the following command:
Then hit Enter. With this simple command, as there are no drives or parameters highlighted, the Check Disk utility only runs in read-only mode.
If you don’t want to dismount your drive and run an online scan instead (the disk remains active), type the following command:
chkdsk c: /scan /forceofflinefix
Then press Enter. Check Disk utility will identify the problems and queue them up to be resolved when the volume is offline.
You can also scan a volume and fix issues as you’re using it. For this, type the following command:
chkdsk c: /r /scan /perf
Then press Enter. Check Disk will fix the problems with the selected disk while you’re using it.
What do the various chkdsk parameters mean?
Other than the
chkdsk command and the specified disk volume, everything else is an additional parameter that tells the Check Disk utility exactly what to do. Here are a few important chkdsk command parameters and what they do:
|Command Parameter||Intended Result|
|/f||This command fixes any errors found with the disk|
|/scan||This runs an online scan (volume doesn’t need to dismount) but does not repair the volume.|
|/r||This tells chkdsk to look for bad sectors and retrieve readable information from them. If /scan is not specified, /f is implied|
|/x||Implies /f and will force dismount the volume if required.|
|/perf||Allows chkdsk to use more system resources and run the scan faster (requires the /scan command).|
|/spotfix||Dismounts the volume briefly to fix issues that were sent to the log file.|
|/?||Provides help with chkdsk commands (those listed above and various others).|
Other than these common command parameters, chkdsk supports a bunch of other commands as well. To get a full list, check out this Microsoft document.
Popular chkdsk commands
- chkdsk /f /r — Fixes bad sectors too and retrieves readable info.
- chkdsk /f /r /x — Dismounts the volume, fixes bad sectors too, and retrieves readable info.
How to use chkdsk for boot partitions
The boot partition is your system drive, the one that your computer boots up with. For most people, this is the C: drive, and it needs to be handled differently so that the Check Disk utility can scan and fix it properly.
Safe to say that chkdsk cannot do so if the computer is being used. However, the Check Disk utility will give you the option to restart the computer and run the command before the computer boots up, so that it has all the access that it needs. To do so, type the following command:
chkdsk c: /r
Then press Enter. You will get a message telling you that Check Disk “cannot lock current drive… because the volume is in use by another process”. Instead, it will ask you if you’d like to schedule it the next time the system restarts. Type
Y and press Enter.
If you’d like, you can restart the system now and get on with the scan.
An alternate way to check disk in Windows 11
The Check Disk utility can also be run from the disk’s properties itself. Here’s how to do so:
Win + E to open File Explorer and then click on My PC in the left pane. Right-click on the drive that you want to check and select Properties.
Click on the Tools tab to switch to it.
Now, under “Error checking”, click on Check.
Check Disk may tell you that there’s no need to scan the drive if there are no drive errors found. But if you want to scan it anyway, click on Scan drive.
The scan will now begin.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The Check Disk utility can be hard to understand and use, especially with the different command paramters that it supports. Here we answer a few commonly asked user queries so that you know what all is possible with chkdsk.
Can I use chkdsk on an external drive?
Yes, you can use chkdsk on any drive, even if it’s an external one. Just make sure to specify the name of the drive when you’re running the chkdsk command. You can also use the alternate method given above to do so.
Will chkdsk repair corrupt files?
The chkdsk utility can scan and fix most corrupt errors found on a disk. Just make sure you’re running it with administrator privileges.
How to see chkdsk scan output logs?
Here’s how to view the chkdsk scan output logs:
Win + R to open the RUN dialog box, type eventvwr, and hit Enter.
This will open Event Viewer. Click on Windows Logs to expand the tree.
Then click on Application.
Now, on the right, scroll through the logs and find one that has Chkdsk as its “Source”.
Double-click on it to get the output logs.
So this is how you cann use the chkdsk repair command on Windows 11. We hope you now have a better understand of what the Check Disk utility can do and when you should do it.