Using Scan Disk (CHKDSK) to check your hard drives

By | April 12, 2011
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Scan Disk is a handy tool included with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Window 7 that you can use to check your hard drives for errors — and many times fix the errors it finds. You should run CHKDSK every month or so to ensure the integrity of your hard drive(s) and to fix any errors you may have.

But, there’s more to running CHKDSK than just running it in the default mode. By using “switches” you can run CHKDSK like a pro, even if you’re not. Amaze your friends with your knowledge! It’s easy. We’ll show you how to use Scan Disk and show you a few switches you can use when running CHKDSK (and a little explanation of what each switch does):

Let’s Check Our Hard Drive(s):

  • Double click on My Computer
  • Right click on the drive you want to check
  • Select Properties
  • Click on the Tools tab
  • Click the “Check Now” button
  • Select “Automatically fix file system errors”
    Note: this is the same as running CHKDSK /f.
  • Select (if desired) “Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors”
    This is the same as using the switch CHKDSK /R. this scan takes a long time – so be prepared
  • Reboot if necessary

You can also run CHKDSK from the command line (Run) which will give you even more options. Click “Start” then “Run”  then type CMD . When the DOS-like window appears, type in one of the following commands at the prompt (the flashing cursor). Be sure you leave a space after CHKDSK (before the slash) or it won’t work.

Here are some of the “switches” available. If you’re currently running Windows and you’re attempting to run CHKDSK on the Windows drive you’ll get a message that the volume (drive) is currently in use. You’ll be asked if you want to run CHKDSK the next time you start Windows. If that’s what you want to do (and it normally is, type “Y” without the quotes).

CHKDSK /F (Run CHKDSK and fix any errors)
CHKDSK /R (Run CHKDSK and identify bad sectors)
CHKDSK /V (Run CHKDSK on FAT32 drives and display a verbose (wordy) output
CHKDSK /I (Run CHKDSK on NTFS drives and display a verbose output)
CHKDSK /C (Run CHKDSK and skip the checking of cycles within folder structures)

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