What Is the Distinction Between CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM in Home windows 10?

If your PC is reporting errors, slowing down, or behaving poorly, you can try using the diagnostic tools built into Windows 10 to fix the problem. CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM will check the health of your hard drive and repair damaged files. However, the three tools work in different ways and target different areas of your system.

CHKDSK SFC DISM presented

CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM are system tools, and you can run all three. However, this can prove to be time consuming and unnecessary for your specific problem. We'll tell you when and how to use these three troubleshooting tools.

When should you use CHKDSK?

CHKDSK (Check Disk) is the first Windows diagnostic tool to try if your PC starts acting strangely. For example, if it hangs on shutdown or becomes frustratingly slow.

CHKDSK searches your entire hard drive to find and fix errors in files and in the file system itself. It also checks your drive for bad sectors (clusters of data that cannot be read) and either tries to repair them or tells your system not to use them.

Windows may run CHKDSK at startup if it encounters a problem with your hard drive, sometimes for innocuous reasons such as improper shutdown, but also more serious reasons such as malware infection and impending drive failure. However, it will not fix problems until prompted to do so.

To avoid future errors and potential data loss, you should manually run CHKDSK at least once a month as part of your PC maintenance routine. You can use one of the following methods:

1. Run CHKDSK from File Explorer

You can run CHKDSK from the command prompt. If you're not happy with using Command Prompt, open File manager, click This pcThen right click on the drive that you want to check and select characteristics.

Choose Tools Tab, and then select Check by doing Bug checking Section.

Run CHKDSK from File Explorer

If Windows finds everything is working fine, there is no need to scan the drive. To run CHKDSK anyway, choose Scan drive.

The scan can take a few minutes to half an hour, depending on the size and status of your drive. Once that's done, CHKDSK will either tell you that it doesn't find any errors or suggest that you fix them if it finds any.

CHDSK found no errors

2. Run CHKDSK from the command prompt

For better control over the disk checking process, you should run CHKDSK from an elevated command prompt.

Art cmd Right-click in the Windows search box command prompt at the top of the results and select Execute as administrator.

Run CHKDSK from the command prompt

In the command prompt window, enter the following chkdsk then space followed by the name of the drive you want to check. For example, chkdsk c: to scan your C: drive.

Press Enter to check for errors in read-only mode. This means that no changes will be made. To make changes, you can use parameters with the CHKDSK command. Here are two that you can use to troubleshoot problems.

  • Enter the following for CHKDSK to fix the issues it finds chkdsk / f c: (for your C drive :).

  • Enter the following to check for bad sectors and errors chkdsk / r c:.

If you are unable to run these commands because "another process is using the volume," the command prompt will offer to schedule the scan to restart your PC.

In addition to these scans, there are many other useful CHKDSK features in Windows 10 that are worth exploring.

chkdsk-features-windows-10

7 Nifty CHKDSK features for Windows 10

CHKDSK ("check disk") is a Windows diagnostic tool that checks data drive volumes, verifies their integrity, and corrects errors if necessary. Here we introduce the improved CHKDSK features you can find in Windows 8 and 10.

When should you use SFC

While CHKDSK finds and fixes errors in the file system of your hard drive, SFC (System File Checker) Specially scans and repairs Windows system files. If a file is found to have been damaged or modified, SFC will automatically replace that file with the correct version.

Knowing when to use SFC is usually more obvious than with CHKDSK. It depends on your hard drive not behaving properly. When Windows programs crash, error messages about missing DLL files, or the dreaded blue screen of death, it's definitely time to run SFC.

Open an elevated command prompt by running the tool as an administrator. Then enter the following and press Enter::

sfc / scannow

SFC performs a full scan of your system and repairs and replaces damaged or missing files using versions from the Windows component store. The scan can take some time. However, keep the Command Prompt window open until it completes.

If you just want to scan but not repair corrupted system files, enter:

Sfc / verifyonly command

Once SFC has finished scanning, one of three messages will be displayed:

  • Windows Resource Protection did not detect any integrity violations. This means that anything that is causing your PC problems is not related to any system file.
  • Windows Resource Protection found damaged files and successfully repaired them. Hopefully this should mean your problems have been resolved.
  • Windows Resource Protection found damaged files but was unable to repair some of them. This means that system files are to blame, but SFC cannot replace them. Try again to run the tool in Safe Mode. If you still get the same result, don't despair: it's time to use DISM.

SFC scan for damaged files

When should you use DISM?

DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) is the most powerful of the three Windows diagnostic tools. While you usually don't need the tools, if you encounter frequent crashes, freezes, and errors, be sure to turn to them. However, SFC either cannot repair your system files or it will not run at all.

While CHKDSK scans your hard drive and your system files SFC. DISM detects and fixes corrupt files in the Windows system image component store for SFC to work properly. Make a backup of your drive partition before running DISM in case something goes wrong.

As with CHKDSK and SFC, you need to open an elevated command prompt to run DISM. To save time and the risk of unnecessary repairs, you can first check if the image is corrupted without making any changes. Type the following command and press Enter:

Dism / Online / Cleanup-Image / CheckHealth

DISM health check

The scan should only take a few seconds. If no corruption is found, you can run an advanced scan to see if the component store is healthy and repairable without making changes. To do this, enter the following:

Dism / Online / Cleanup-Image / ScanHealth

If DISM reports that there are problems with the system image, run another advanced scan to automatically fix those problems. DISM connects to Windows Update to download and replace damaged files as needed. Note that the process can take up to 10 minutes and can hang for a while after 20 seconds. However, this is normal. Enter this command:

Dism / Online / Cleanup-Image / RestoreHealth

After the scan and repairs are complete, restart your PC and run SFC again to replace your damaged or missing system files.

Anti-Corruption and Victory

Now that you understand what CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM do, hopefully you can fix your PC by running one or more of these Windows troubleshooting tools.

If you're still having problems, perform a system restore. This will restore your system files, settings, and programs to a point in time when they were working properly. If your system was not corrupted while creating the restore point, your corruption problems may be resolved.

Windows 10 recovery

Factory data reset Windows 10 or use System Restore

Running Windows 10 and encountering a problem? Perhaps malware has been disrupting your system or things are generally slow. You may even plan to sell your computer.

About the author

Robert Irvine
(5 articles published)

Robert has been writing about the Internet and computers since the days of AOL discs and Windows 98. He loves to discover new things through the web and to share this knowledge with other people.

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