How to run CHKDSK on Windows 10/11

Hard disks can run into problems. Physical damage to a hard disk is often irreparable but a disk can have software problems and they can be fixed. You may have to use a myriad of tools to fix them, depending on the problem but before you can fix a problem, you will need to diagnose it.

Run CHKDSK

Windows 10 comes with lots of built-in diagnostic tools for identifying what may be wrong with a software or hardware component. For hard drives, Windows has the Check Disk (CHKDSK) tool. This is a command-line tool that you can use to check a hard drive for errors, and to repair them. 

The tool can be used on an internal and external drive. If you want to run the tool on your Windows drive, you will need to run it from outside Windows i.e. you must access Command Prompt from outside Windows via the troubleshooting menu.

How to run CHKDSK

In order to run the CHKDSK tool, you must have admin rights on your system. You should also be familiar with the parameters for this command. The parameters will determine the action that the tool executes. 

Basic syntax

chkdsk [Drive] /Switch

Example

chkdsk D: /r

A normal command looks like this:

chkdsk D: /f /r /x

The /f, /r and /x are all switches and they tell the tool what to do.

/f tells the tool to fix any errors that it finds.
/r tells the tool to look for bad sector.
/x tells the tool to dismount the drive before it starts the checking process.

In addition to these three switches, there are also the following switches;

/i Performs a quick disk check and is less thorough. It can only be used with NTFS drives.
/perf gives the tool access to more system resources allowing it work faster
/scan will not dismount the drive before checking it (cannot be used with the /x switch for obvious reasons)
/v will list the name and path to each file in the drive as it runs the check

There are a few more switches that you can use with this tool and Microsoft has detailed documentation for them. Generally speaking, this tool will not erase your data but your system may slow down while it’s running.

Conclusion

The CHKDSK tool can repair errors on a drive but it may also fail to fix certain problems. You can try other disk repairing tools in its place. Software problems can, on occasion, render a drive useless and you may have to buy a new one.