When your PC starts to error, is slow, or malfunctions, you can use Windows 10’s built-in diagnostic tools to try to fix the problem. CHKDSK, SFC and DISM check the health of your hard drive and repair corrupted files, but these three tools work in different ways and target different areas of your system.
You can run all 3 tools, but this can be time consuming and unnecessary for your particular problem. The following article will explain when and how to use this set of 3 troubleshooting tools.
When should you use CHKDSK?
CHKDSK (Check Disk) is the first Windows diagnostic tool you should try if your PC starts to behave strangely (for example, if it crashes on shutdown or becomes annoyingly slow).
CHKDSK scans the entire hard drive to find and fix errors in the file and the file system itself. It also checks the drive for bad sectors (clusters of data that cannot be read) and tries to repair them or tell the system not to use them.
Windows can run CHKDSK on boot if it detects a problem with the hard drive, sometimes for harmless reasons like improper shutdowns, but also for more serious reasons, including malware infection. damage and the drive is about to fail. However, it won’t actually fix any issues until instructed to do so.
To avoid future errors and possible loss of data, it is recommended that you run CHKDSK manually at least once per month as part of your PC maintenance routine.
When should you use SFC?
While CHKDSK finds and fixes errors in the file system of a hard drive, SFC (System File Checker) specifically scans and repairs Windows system files. If it detects that a file is corrupt or has been modified, SFC will automatically replace it with the correct version.
Knowing when to use the SFC is usually more obvious than the CHKDSK, which depends on your hunch about the hard drive working incorrectly. If Windows programs crash, you get an error message about missing DLL files or you’re getting the dreadful blue screen of death error, then it’s definitely time to run SFC.
SFC will perform a full system scan, repair and replace any corrupted or missing files, using versions from the Windows Component Store. The scan may take some time, but make sure you leave the Command Prompt window open until it’s done.
If you only want to scan but not repair corrupted system files, enter:
sfc /verifyonly command
When should you use DISM?
DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) is the most powerful of the 3 Windows diagnostic tools. This is the tool you should use when you experience frequent crashes, crashes and errors, but SFC cannot repair system files or run at all.
While CHKDSK scans the hard drive and SFC processes the system files, DISM detects and fixes corrupt files in the Component Store of the Windows system image so that SFC can function properly. Make a backup of the drive partition before running DISM, in case something goes wrong.
As with CHKDSK and SFC, you will need to open a Command Prompt with admin privileges to run DISM. To save time and limit the risk of performing unnecessary repairs, you can first check if the image is damaged without making any changes.
If DISM reports that there are problems with the system image, run another advanced scan to fix these problems automatically. DISM will connect with Windows Update to download and replace corrupt files as required. Note that this process can take up to 10 minutes and hang for a while at 20 seconds, but this is normal. After the scan and repair is complete, reboot your PC and run SFC again to replace corrupt or missing system files.
Now that you understand what CHKDSK, SFC and DISM do, running one or more of these Windows troubleshooting tools will hopefully help you fix your PC.
If you still have problem, perform a System Restore. This will restore your system files, settings, and programs to the point in time they were functional.
- How to run SFC (System File Checker) Offline?