How to Troubleshoot and Repair CHKDSK Errors

What does CHKDSK do?

Microsoft Windows CHKDSK Utility

The Microsoft CHKDSK function, an abbreviation of “check disk”, is a Windows operating system tool that scans and reports on the integrity and behavior of computer hard drives. The CHKDSK command tool is an error checking utility that can check and repair computer hard drive volumes and systems. Since the Microsoft release of its first DOS operating system every version has included a disk-checking tool to find and fix damaged files and folders and identify bad disk sectors.

Common Causes of Hard Disk Errors

There are numerous possible causes of computer system errors that can be solved with the CHKDSK tool. Power glitches, program hangs, computer crashes or improper shutdown can all interrupt the computer during sensitive processes and result in damage. If power and program failures occur while the computer is engaged with a file or application, it can result in errors and lead to hard drive fragmentation.

Hard Drive Fragmentation

In computer terms, fragmentation refers to broken corrupt bits of files that get stuck on system hard drives and result in wasted storage space and inefficient use of computer resources and memory.

Fragmentation occurs when files break into small bits and get stuck in physical sectors of the hard drive. Fragmented files can occur when files are corrupted or during program removal when un-installation processes fail to remove all the program components.

If files that are still in active use become fragmented, it means that the single file is broken up and scattered around the disk. Fragmentation causes the data to be disconnected, taking much longer to access, slowing application process times and reducing overall system performance.

Windows CHKDSK Processes and Functions

CHKDSK is used to search and create a report about the status of the hard disk and the overall system health. The CHKDSK tool works by inspecting the computer’s hard drive to make sure that it is working as well as it can, without any corrupt sectors, cross-linked folders or files, directory errors or lost connections or clusters.

Users can specify the volumes to be scanned, as well as specific paths to scan files or sets of files. CHKDSK can also be configured for different processes. The CHKDSK tool can be set to fix disk errors, display the names of every checked file in each directory, identify bad sectors and recover any readable data, perform less rigorous searches of only the NTFS sectors, skip certain cycles for more efficient scans and produce less intensive report logs. CHKDSK can also be configured to offer help and protocol support through the Windows command prompt.

Using Windows CHKDSK

Windows includes the CHKDSK tool to improve user control over system health. For optimal performance, CHKDSK should be run regularly to ensure the best conditions. Depending on your computer use, you might consider running the utility weekly or bi-weekly. It is even more important to run the CHKDSK tool after system changes like program installation and de-installation.


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