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What is the difference between CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM in Windows 10?

When your PC starts reporting errors, lags, or misbehaving, you can use the diagnostic tools built into Windows 10 to try to fix the problem. CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM all validate your hard drive and repair corrupt files, but the three tools work in different ways and target different areas of your system.

CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM are system tools and you can run all three when trying to fix and troubleshoot errors. But this can be time consuming and unnecessary for your specific problem. We’ll explain when and how to use this trio of troubleshooting tools.

What is the difference between CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM in Windows 10?  - Windows

When should you use CHKDSK

CHKDSK (Check Disk) is the first Windows diagnostic tool you should try if your computer starts behaving strangely. For example, if it stops responding while trying to shutdown or becomes frustratingly slow.

CHKDSK scans your entire hard drive to find and fix errors in the files and the file system itself. It also scans the drive for bad sectors (unreadable data sets) and either tries to fix them or tells your system not to use them.

Windows may run CHKDSK on boot if it detects a hard drive problem, sometimes for innocuous reasons like improper shutdown, but also for more serious ones including malware infection and impending drive failure. However, no issues will actually be fixed until you are asked to do so.

To prevent future errors and possible data loss, it is worth manually running CHKDSK at least once per month as part of your PC maintenance routine. You can use one of the following methods:

1. Run CHKDSK through File Explorer

You can run CHKDSK from the command prompt. If you are not comfortable using Command Prompt, open File Explorer, and click this computer , then right-click the drive you want to check and select Properties.

Select tab tools then select Verification Under the Error Checking section.

What is the difference between CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM in Windows 10?  - Windows

If Windows determines that everything is running smoothly, it will indicate that you do not need to check the drive. To run CHKDSK anyway, select disk check.

The scan can take anything from a few minutes to half an hour, depending on the size and condition of the drive. Once done, CHKDSK will either tell you that no errors were found or if it found any errors, it will suggest that you fix them.

What is the difference between CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM in Windows 10?  - Windows

2. Run CHKDSK from Command Prompt

To have more control over the disk check process, you must run CHKDSK from a command prompt with administrator privileges.

write cmd In the Windows search box, then right-click Command Prompt above the results and select Run as administrator.

What is the difference between CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM in Windows 10?  - Windows

In the Command Prompt window, type chkdsk and then a space, followed by the name of the drive you want to check. for example , chkdsk c: To check drive C:.

Click on Enter Scans for errors in read-only mode, which means that no changes will be made. To make changes, you can use the parameters using the CHKDSK command. Here are two types that you can use to fix problems.

  • To have CHKDSK fix problems it finds, type chkdsk /f c: (for your C: drive).
  • To search for bad sectors as well as errors, type chkdsk /r c:.

If you cannot run these commands because “the volume is in use by another process,” the command prompt will offer to schedule the scan when your computer restarts.

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

When should you use SFC

While CHKDSK finds and fixes errors in your hard drive’s file system, SFC (System File Checker) specifically checks and repairs Windows system files. If it detects that a file is corrupt or has been modified, SFC automatically replaces that file with the correct version.

Knowing when to use SFC is usually more straightforward compared to CHKDSK, which is based on a hunch that your hard drive isn’t working properly. Where if your Windows applications are crashing, you are getting error messages about missing DLL files, or you are facing the dreaded blue screen of death, it is definitely time to run an SFC scan.

Open an elevated Command Prompt, by running the tool as an administrator. Then type the following and press Enter:

sfc /scannow

SFC will perform a full scan of your system and repair and replace any corrupt or missing files, using versions from the Windows Component Store. The scan may take some time, but be sure to leave the Command Prompt window open until the process is complete.

If you want to check only corrupted system files and not repair them, type:

sfc /verifyonly command

Once SFC has finished scanning, you will see one of three messages:

  • Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations. This means that whatever is causing your computer problems is not related to the system files.
  • Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and successfully repaired them. We hope this means that your problems have been resolved.
  • Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some of them. This means that system files are to blame, but that SFC cannot replace them. Try to run the tool again in safe mode. If you still get the same result, don’t despair: it’s time to use DISM.
What is the difference between CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM in Windows 10?  - Windows

When should you use DISM

DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) is the most powerful of the three Windows diagnostic tools. While you usually shouldn’t use tools, it’s the one you should turn to when you encounter frequent crashes, freezes, and errors, plus SFC can’t either repair system files or isn’t working at all.

While CHKDSK scans your hard drive and SFC scans files for your system. DISM detects and repairs corrupt files in the Windows System Image Component Store so that SFC can work properly. Create a backup of your drive partition before running DISM, in case something goes wrong.

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

Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth
What is the difference between CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM in Windows 10?  - Windows

The scan should only take a few seconds. If no corruption is detected, you can perform a more advanced check to determine if the component store is healthy and repairable, again without making any changes, by typing:

Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth

If DISM reports problems with the system image, run another advanced scan to fix these problems automatically. DISM will contact Windows Update to download and replace corrupted files as required. Note that the process can take up to 10 minutes and stop for some time at 20 percent, but this is normal. Type this command:

Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth

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

Get rid of corrupted files and get on with your tasks

Now that you understand what CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM do, we hope that running one or more Windows troubleshooting tools will help you fix your PC.

If you are still having trouble, perform a system restore. This will restore your system files, settings, and apps to a time when they were working properly. If your system was not damaged when the restore point was created, it may solve your problems and errors.

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