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There is nothing more frustrating than being unable to open a corrupt personal file or folder containing crucial data. Likewise, corrupt operating system files can lead to serious performance issues or even a complete system failure.
There are countless reasons why files and folders become corrupt, such as malware attacks, improper file relocation, bad sectors on your hard drive, and unending computer crashes.
Hold your patience if your system or app files have become corrupted; it's not impossible to fix them. In this article, we will show you how to use the built-in tools on Windows to get your files working again.
1. Run the SFC Scan to Repair Corrupt System Files
SFC, or System File Checker, is a godsend command-line utility that comes to our rescue when encountering corrupted system files. You need to run a simple command in the Command Prompt app, and it will automatically find and replace corrupt files with the cached copy.
To run an SFC scan, follow the below steps:
- Enter "cmd" in the Windows search bar.
- Right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as administrator.
- Enter the command "SFC /scannow" and press Enter. (Be sure to add a space between "SFC" and "/scannow")
That's it. The command-line utility will begin processing the system files, and depending on the data, the process may take longer. So, minimize the Command Prompt app and continue working on your projects.
How to Analyze the Result of SFC Scan
As the SFC scan completes its process, you will be presented with one of four possible outcomes, as explained on the Microsoft blog:
- Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations: According to this result, your system files are clean, and no corrupt files were found during the scan. Therefore, if the file you're trying to access is still corrupt, resulting in system errors, there may be another problem.
- Windows Resource Protection could not perform the requested operation: A result like this indicates that the SFC scan is unable to complete, and Microsoft recommends running the SFC scan in Safe mode. Before doing that, press Win + R and type %WinDir% \WinSxS\Temp and click OK. The "PendingDeletes" and "PendingRenames" folders should be intact in the Windows Temp folder when running the SFC scan in Safe mode.
- Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and successfully repaired them: Corrupt files have been repaired automatically, so nothing needs to be done.
- Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some of them: In this case, you will have to locate and repair the files manually. Refer to the More Information section of the Microsoft Blog to learn how you can do this.
How to Run the SFC Scan for Other Drives
An SFC scan isn't limited to repairing system files. It can also be run on other drives and external storage devices. To accomplish this, you need to run the following command in the Windows Command Prompt:
As a general rule, an SFC scan should help you fix corrupt system files. There are times when an SFC scan may not identify the problem, or you may not be able to run it at all. If you encounter these scenarios, you should use DISM to repair the system image.
To repair the system image using DISM, follow these steps:
- In the Windows search bar, type "cmd" and open Command Prompt as administrator.
- Enter the following command.
DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
- Press the Enter key.
Give the DISM tool enough time to scan the system image, and once it is finished, it should automatically replace any damaged or corrupt files. Hence, it may fix the issue at hand, but if it doesn't, then you can now run the SFC scan to repair corrupt data if you couldn't before.
3. Use a CHKDSK Scan to Repair Corrupt Drive Sectors
Another utility, Check Disk, scans and tests every sector of your disk drive hardware and fixes errors if it finds any. Following the SFC scan, CHKDSK holds the greatest potential to repair corrupt files on your preferred drives.
To run a CHKDSK scan in the simplest way, follow these steps:
- Open File Explorer and go to This PC.
- Right-click on the drive you want to scan and choose Properties from the context menu.
- Hit the Check button in the Error checking section of the Tools tab.
The error-checking popup will let you know whether you need to run a scan or not. You will have the option to scan the drive in both cases. Hence, run the scan to repair errors it finds.
Even though this method of running the CHKDSK scan can help fix corrupt files in specific drives, if you want the system to run a particular type of scan at a defined location, you can have better control by running the scan from the Command Prompt.
Learn more about the syntax of the command you need to run and the parameters you can use to control the CHKDSK activity on the Microsoft website.
4. How to Use System Restore to Fix Corrupt Windows Files
Microsoft's Windows operating system includes a tool known as System Restore that keeps track of critical system files that can be restored in case of a calamity. Although it's a convenient tool, it can only repair corrupt system files, not personal files.
Follow the below steps to restore your operating system to a previous restore point:
- In the Windows search bar, type "Create a restore point" and click on the relevant result in the search results.
- Navigate to the System Protection tab in the System Properties window.
- Click on System Restore.
- After clicking Next, select the restore point you wish to return to, click Next one more time, and then click Finish.
- Select Yes in the warning prompt, and the process will begin.
At the end of this process, your computer will reboot once, and you should now no longer have the corrupt files and folders issue.
On the other hand, if your personal file is corrupted, you might be able to restore it using the previous version that Windows might have stored. To do this, follow these steps:
- Locate the corrupt file or folder.
- Simply right-click it and select Restore previous versions.
- Select the previous version and click Restore.
This turnaround won't work if there is no previous version stored. You may need to use third-party tools to fix the corrupt files as a last resort.
Four Built-In Fixes in Windows
Hopefully, the scans and tools mentioned above will help you repair your corrupt files and system. If none of the fixes work, you can try third-party tools to repair the damaged or corrupt files in Windows. Tools like Repair Toolbox, Steller Microsoft Office Repair Toolkit, and Hetman File Repair are all recommended.
Run SFC first, and only if SFC finds a problem is it necessary to run DISM. Run SFC first, and — no matter what SFC reports — you might as well run DISM after that.How do I uncorrupt a file in Windows? ›
- 1 Restore Previous Versions:
- 2 Use System Restore.
- 3 Use the SFC /Scannow command.
- 4 Use DISM tool.
- 5 Use the CHKDSK command.
- 6 Perform SFC scan before Windows 10 starts.
- 7 Reset your Windows 10.
Use the CHKDSK/SFC Command to Repair Your Files. If your hard drive has logical bad sectors, or its file system has corrupted, you can't access the files saved on it. In this case, you can use the CHKDSK utility to fix the affected disk to repair corrupted files.How do I repair Windows files? ›
In the command prompt window, type SFC /scannow and press Enter . System file checker utility checks the integrity of Windows system files and repairs them if required. After the process is complete, reboot the computer.Does DISM fix corrupt files? ›
In short, DISM is not a complete reinstallation of Windows; instead, it finds critical core files required to run and gather information, then upgrades or repairs any files that are corrupted or out-of-date.Does DISM do anything? ›
Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM.exe) is a command-line tool that can be used to service and prepare Windows images, including those used for Windows PE, Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE) and Windows Setup. DISM can be used to service a Windows image (. wim) or a virtual hard disk (.What command fixes corrupted Windows files? ›
In the command prompt window, type SFC /scannow and press Enter . System file checker utility checks the integrity of Windows system files and repairs them if required.Is there a Windows 10 repair tool? ›
Instead of fix-it tools, Windows 10 uses troubleshooters to help you solve problems with your PC. To run a troubleshooter: Select Start > Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot, or select the Find troubleshooters shortcut at the end of this topic.How do I fix file or directory is corrupted and unreadable? ›
- Restart Your Computer. ...
- Disable Your Antivirus. ...
- Change the Location of the File. ...
- Scan the Drive. ...
- Set a New Drive Letter. ...
- Run the Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool. ...
- Check Your Computer for Malware. ...
- Run a Command Line.
How does a Windows file become corrupted? File corruption usually happens when there is an issue during the 'save' process. If your computer crashes the file being saved will likely be corrupted. Another cause might be damaged sections of your hard drive or storage media that might have viruses and malware.
- Use the SFC tool. 1.1 Run System File Checker. ...
- Use the DISM tool. ...
- Run a SFC scan from Safe Mode. ...
- Perform a SFC scan before Windows 10 starts. ...
- Replace the files manually. ...
- Use the System Restore feature. ...
- Reset corrupted Windows 10.
- Open-File Manager >> Select the desired Drive >> Properties.
- Select Tools >> Check under Error Checking.
- On completion of drive, errors fix, click Repair This Drive.
Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) is a command-line tool that is used to service Windows images. You can use DISM image management commands to mount and get information about Windows image (. wim) files, Full-flash utility (FFU) files, or virtual hard disks (VHD).Can I repair Windows with ISO file? ›
A repair upgrade is the process of installing Windows over the existing installation on your hard disk, using your installation USB, DVD media or ISO file. Performing this can repair broken operating system files while preserving your personal files, settings and installed applications.Does Windows have a disk repair? ›
To create a system repair disc
Open Backup and Restore by clicking the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Backup and Restore. In the left pane, click Create a system repair disc, and then follow the steps.
It is not normally necessary to execute the DISM command. However, if the SFC command does not run correctly or cannot replace a corrupted file with the correct one, the DISM - command can make SFC run correctly.Is DISM and SFC the same? ›
What is the Difference Between SFC, CHKDSK, and DISM? SFC analyzes your system files while CHKDSK searches your hard drive and DISM scans and patches faulty files in the component store of the Windows system image, allowing SFC to function correctly.When should you run SFC? ›
Although you shouldn't usually need to use the tools, it's the one to turn to when you're experiencing frequent crashes, freezes, and errors, but SFC either can't repair your system files or is unable to run at all.Does SFC Scannow fix anything? ›
The sfc /scannow command will scan all protected system files, and replace corrupted files with a cached copy that is located in a compressed folder at %WinDir%\System32\dllcache.