How to use the Check Disk tool

One of our readers asked us to create a tutorial about the Check Disk tool in Windows Vista. Even though nothing has changed about this tool since Windows XP, we decided to create such a tutorial and make sure all our readers understand what this tool does and how to use it. This tool hasn’t changed much over the years and it’s still the same process in Windows 10.

Basically, Check Disk is a tool that verifies your disks for file system integrity, locates bad sectors and recovers readable information. This can be very helpful when you have some form of hardware failure which affects the integrity of your files. Unless you have some serious hardware problems, Check Disk can help you recover corrupted information from your hard disk, floppy disk or memory stick.

How to find Check Disk

Unfortunately there is no direct shortcut for Check Disk. First, you need to either double click on the Computer shortcut or to start Windows Explorer. Then select the partition you want to check, right click on it and select Properties.

Check Disk Tool

In the Properties menu go to the Tools tab. There you will have access to three sections: error-checking, defragmentation and backup. Go to Error-checking and click on the Check Now button. If UAC (User Account Control) is enabled, you will have to confirm that you want to start the Check Disk tool.

Check Disk Tool

How to use Check Disk

The Check Disk window is very simple. Check both options, click on the Start button and the error-checking process will start.

Check Disk Tool

If the disk you want to check is used by an application or by the operating system, you will receive a warning saying that the disk cannot be checked while it’s in use. In this case, click on Schedule disk check.

Check Disk Tool

When you will restart your PC, the selected disk will be checked for errors and repaired, if needed. After the restart you will see a black screen like the one in the screenshot below. Do not press any keys and wait for the Check Disk tool to finish it’s job.

Check Disk Tool

Using Check Disk from the Command Prompt

You can also use the Check Disk tool directly from the Command Prompt. Search for the word ‘command’ in the Start Menu search box, right click on the Command Prompt shortcut and select the option that says Run as administrator.

Check Disk Tool

To find the complete list of command line parameters, type ‘chkdsk /?’ and then press Enter.

Check Disk Tool

For most cases it is enough to use ‘chkdsk C: /F’ or ‘chkdsk C: /R’.
‘C:’ is the driver letter of the disk that will be checked for errors. Instead of ‘C:’, you can type any drive letter. By using ‘/F’ you will make sure that the Check Disk tool will fix the errors found on the disk. When using ‘/R’, Check Disk will locate bad sectors and recover readable information. Using this parameter implies the use of ‘/F’ so there is no need to use them both.

Related articles:
Disk Defragmenter
Defragment your hard drive from the Command Prompt
Disk Cleanup

19 thoughts on “How to use the Check Disk tool”

  1. WTF???/
    WTF? it cant fix it says:windows cant read master file .. windows will try to fix….windows cant fix and then aborts something and nothing HAPPENs WTF TO DO PLZ HELP ME????????

  2. Hi..
    I have one question


    I have one question concerning the command line parameters. when i typed in chkdsk /R it displays

    “The type of the file system is NTFS
    cannot lock current drive

    chkdsk cannot run because the volume is in use by another process.”

    so can anybody help me with this since i am not a computer whiz i dont know what this thing means..thanks a lot for the help

    • Check Disk
      At the end of that message it will ask you: “Would you like to force a dismount of this volume? (Y/N)”.
      Type “y” and the press on Enter.
      If Windows Vista cannot dismount the volume, it will ask you: “Would you like to schedule this volume to be checked the next time the system restarts? (Y/N)”. Type “y”, press Enter and reboot your PC.
      Before logging in, Check Disk will check that partition and reboot your PC if necessary.

  3. Check Disk
    My computer automatically goes into Check disk mode each time I start up my computer. It never used to do this. How can I disable this so that it does not automatically begin at start up?

  4. Check Disk
    I have already gone through all these steps and have resorted to looking on the internet for an answer when I came across the same steps that I have already taken. My problem is that when I get to the error “Windows can’t check disk while it’s in use,” and then I click on the Schedule disk check and restart my computer, nothing happens. It doesn’t go to the black screen showing it’s searching for any errors. This is becomming very frustrating. Any ideas?

  5. Check disk is not running after startup
    I am running into the same problem. I tried running chkdisk from both command prompt and after a restart.. the restart happens, but no checkdisk and from the command prompt, I am getting “chkdisk is not recognized as and internal or external command…”
    It’s awfully frustrating to say the least.

  6. checkdisk not repairing as required
    my windows Vista hard drive ‘c’ is not being repaired when checkdisk is running on it and trying to repair a corrupted file on that drive. It simply will not pass what appears to be the corrupted section at 122.235 files. It just reverts to start up and loads up Vista without repairing. Any advice or suggestions please! I would be most grateful.

    J. Brown

  7. Chkdsk, Defrag, and System Restore DO NOT WORK.
    Chkdsk, Defrag, and System Restore DO NOT WORK. PERIOD. After the reboot nothing happens but a normal restart. System restore says I need to run dskchk due to an error on the disk. ITunes won’t install an update due to a disk error. Doesn’t ANYONE know how to fix this. It also doesn’t work in the command prompt window. I can’t even reinstall Windows!!!! You guessed it….disk error. Windows Defender won’t start either or reinstall. Most of the other programs seem to be working normally, so this is just a big cluster f___! (Literally).

  8. Okay so i ran disk check. it
    Okay so i ran disk check. it took 2 days to do and was only on 85%. so me being the dumb one decided to stop it. i tried pressing esc e.t.c. but then i shut it dowN by accident because the power unplugged. so now i try to boot up my computer and it wont start. its in a loop and wont start in neither start up options (safe mode e.t.c)
    anyone please help me! i have vista pre-installed and no intall disk. please help!

  9. Disk Check Misconception…
    A lot of XP guru wannabes think you MUST select one or both options on the disk check dialog to perform a productive disk check. This is NOT the case. XP, and probably Vista and Win7 as well, WILL perform an important corrective function if you run the disk check from the tools tab without selecting any parameters at all.
    This WILL RESULT in improved Windows OS responsiveness and performance because the disk check verifies and corrects file indexing on the drive, as the command-line chkdsk tool will if you use the /i parameter. You only need to use the ‘auto detect and repair’ function, or the /r commandline parameter when the disk is known (or believed to be?) losing cluster or sectors.

    Next time XP slows down, even if you’ve done a disk cleanup, try running the tools tab disk check without selecting a box. If it didn’t work “naked”, Microsoft wouldn’t have added the option boxes.

  10. disk error checking tool
    did this using the command prompt which found a corrupt file in RealTime. it then said file & folder verification complete and then asked me if i wanted to ‘convert lost chains to files’? this means nothing 2 me so i just typed ‘N’. should i have entered ‘Y’?

  11. Disk Check – No Report ?
    It is a shame that in XP and Vista this check tool does not have any (at least obvious) way of seeing a report of its findings / corrections. You run it and then just hope it did something.

  12. raw disk
    “the type of file system is Raw. chkdsk is not available for Raw drives”

    What does that mean? I just want to backup my files. I bought the drive to back them up and it does not work. I get an error recommending that I use check disk on that drive, butcheck disk does not work on it?
    Ohhhh technology. Someone help please.

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