How to run chkdsk

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Chkdsk, short for check disk, is a system tool and command run utility that is used on DOS and Microsoft Windows-based systems to check the file system and status of the system’s hard drives. In Unix-based systems, the equivalent utility is fsck.

The chkdsk command lists and corrects errors on the disk. Any time you have hard drive errors, or even strange behaviors that you may not at first associate with a hard drive, chkdsk is helpful in helping correct those issues. The Check Disk tool comes with every version of Windows. 

Used without parameters, chkdsk will display the status of the disk in the current drive. The parameters are as follows:

A chart of chkdsk parameters

Depending on the number of files, size of hard disk, and number of errors, chkdsk can take anywhere from minutes to hours to complete. Since chkdsk takes over the hard disk and does not allow other programs to run until it’s complete, it’s important to set aside several hours of downtime. If you were to interrupt the process during a repair by restarting the system, it could make matters worse and lengthen the process.

Why use chkdsk 

Chkdsk’s basic function is to scan the integrity of the file system and its metadata and fix any logical errors it finds. This might include corrupt entries in a volume’s master file table, bad security descriptors, or misaligned time stamp information about files. It can also optionally scan every sector on a disk volume to look for bad sectors

Users run chkdsk as part of routine maintenance or any time Windows has automatically shut down, such as after a power loss or system crash.

How to run chkdsk

  1. In Microsoft Windows 10, 8, & 7

    Using the Graphical User Interface (GUI)


    1. Click Start in the bottom right corner

    2. Search for and click My Computer or This PC for Windows 10

    chkdsk open computer
    3. Right click on the drive you want to perform a check disk on, then click Properties 

    find chkdsk properties
    4. Click on the Tools tab in the Properties window

    5. Click Check under error checking. To perform a complete check for errors, check both options in the pop-up check disk window. 

    find chkdsk error checking
    6. If your PC doesn’t find any errors on the device, it will show a window stating that you don’t need to scan the drive. But if you’d prefer to run a chkdsk scan, click Scan Drive.

    find chkdsk scan drive
    7. If the PC doesn’t find any errors, a window will pop up after the scan is complete stating no errors were found. If the chkdsk does find errors, it will attempt to fix what it can. 

    find chkdsk scan was successful

    Using the Command Line Interface

    1. Click Start then Run 

    2. Open the command prompt and type cmd in the search box

    3. Click OK

    4. Right click cmd. exe in the search results and select Run as Administrator

    5. Type chkdsk directly after C:\WINDOWS\system32 and press Enter

    find chkdsk cmd.exe
  2. In Windows Vista

    Using the GUI

    1. Click Start and then Computer

    2. Right click the drive you want to check

    3. Click Properties

    4. Under the Tools tab, click Check Now 

    find chkdsk windows vista
    5. If prompted, enter the Administrator password

    6. A box will appear with two options: 

    a. To automatically repair errors, check Automatically fix file system errors
    b. To perform a thorough check, check Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors
    c. Check both boxes for a comprehensive check 

    find chkdsk windows vista options
    7. Click Start

    Using the Command Line Interface 

    1. Click Start > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt 

    2. Right click Command Prompt and click Run as Administrator

    find chkdsk windows vista CLI
    3. When the Command Prompt launches, type: 

    chkdsk C: /r


    4. If Windows Vista is installed on another drive that isn’t labeled as C:, replace C: with the letter of your hard disk. For instance: 

    chkdsk D: /r


    5. Press Enter to run chkdsk
  3. In Windows XP

    Using the GUI 

    1. Click Start then My Computer

    2. Right click on the hard disk you’d like to check

    3. Click Properties then Tools

    4. Under Error-checking, press Check Now…

    find chkdsk  windows xp
    5. Click Start. A pop-up screen will appear with two options for checking the disk. Refer to step 2 substep 6 to know which option(s) to choose. 

    6. Once finished, the utility will notify you if the scan reported errors (Errors were found and fixed) or not (No errors were found).

    Using the Command Line Interface

    1. Click Start then Run

    2. Type cmd in the search box and press OK

    find chkdsk windows xp cmd
    3. Type chkdsk to open the utility in a read-only mode and press the Enter key.

    find chkdsk windows cli
    4. To repair errors without scanning for any bad sectors, type chkdsk volume: /f and press Enter, where volume is the letter of the drive you’d like to run a scan for,such as C: or D:. Example:

    chkdsk C: /f


    To repair errors and scan for bad sectors, type chkdsk volume: /r and press Enter, replacing volume with letter of the drive. Example:

    chkdsk D: /r

Troubleshooting chkdsk

Cannot continue in read-only mode

If the error message “Errors found. CHKDSK cannot continue in read-only mode” pops up after running a check disk command, make sure you’re running the command with the /r parameter. If the disk check needs to be run on another disk, make sure to update the command with the letter of the drive you want to run the scan for, such as from C: to D:. 

Chkdsk won’t run at startup

If the check disk won’t run a scan at startup, follow one these two solutions: 

Check the BootExecute key in the Registry Editor

  1. Open Registry Editor by typing regedit in the search bar. 
  2. Find this key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager key
  1. Check the value for the BootExecute key. If the value is autocheck autochk * /., delete the forward slash and period. 

Run sfc

You can also run the sfc /scannow command and then run chkdsk /r again:

  1. Open Command Prompt
  2. Type the command:
sfc /scannow
  1. Press Enter
  2. After the sfc process is complete, run the check disk utility.

Cannot run because volume in use by another process

If the error message “Chkdsk cannot run because the volume is in use by another process. Would you like to schedule this volume to be checked the next time the system restarts?” pops up, type Y for the utility to run at the next boot.

Cannot lock current drive

If the error message “Cannot lock current drive” pops up, ensure you’re running the command with the /r parameter. 

Chkdsk won’t finish

If the utility won’t finish a scan, make sure you’re running the correct /r parameter. 

Where do I run chkdsk in Linux? 

If you’re using the Linux operating system rather than Windows, the chkdsk command will not work. The equivalent command for the Linux operating system is fsck. You can only run this command on disks and filesystems that are not mounted. 

Read more: Check and Repair Filesystem Errors With fsck Command in Linux

Abby Braden
Abby Braden is an award-winning writer and editor for websites such as TechnologyAdvice.com, Webopedia.com, and Project-Management.com, where she covers technology trends and enterprise and SMB project management platforms. When she’s not writing about technology, she enjoys giving too many treats to her dog and coaching part-time at her local gym.

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