Use of CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM diagnostic tools in windows 11

What is the Difference Between SFC, CHKDSK, and DISM in Windows 11 and Which Windows Diagnostic Tool Should You Use


When your computer starts acting slow, Windows 11 freezes, the system crashes with a different blue screen error or programs fail to open usually we recommend 3 built-in diagnostic tools CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM. These tools check the health of your hard drive and restore faulty data but they each function in a different manner and target different regions of your system. Let’s take a look at how CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM tools work and fix problems on windows 11 PC.

  • SFC (System File Checker) command checks for missing important files of your Windows operating system and restores them from the cache.
  • CHKDSK (Check Disk) scans your drive to find bad sectors and tries to fix errors in the file system.
  • DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) services Windows images and repairs your Windows installation by downloading actual replacement files from Windows’ online servers.

Use of CHKDSK command in windows 11

CHKDSK also refer as check disk or disk check is a command-line tool built into the windows operating system. As the name suggests, the tool is designed to check the integrity of the disk partition file system, scan and fix detected logical file system errors on disk drives. And you can run the CHKDSK command tool to scan and repair bad sectors (clusters of data that cannot be read) on the disk drive. whenever you notice windows 11 freezes or high disk usage you need to run chkdsk command to scan the disk for detect possible errors and repair them.

To prevent future errors and potential data loss, it’s worth running CHKDSK manually at least once a month as part of your PC maintenance routine.

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Repair disk drive error using chkdsk command

  • Press Windows key + S and type cmd, right-click on the command prompt select run as administrator,
  • Now type the command chkdsk and press enter key to check the disk drive for errors.
  • Running chkdsk command only scans the drive for errors in read-only mode but won’t repair them.
  • To repair the errors present on the drive you need to add additional parameters and ask chkdsk command to scan and repair the disk drive errors

You can check all support parameters using the command chkdsk /? (refer image below)

check disk parameters

  • To scan and repair the disk drive errors run the command chkdsk C: /f /r

Here chkdsk command scan the drive for errors, C: is the drive letter where to perform the scan, /f parameter fixes errors on the driver and /r locates the bad sectors on the drive and recovers readable information.

check disk errors

  • When you run the command it will prompt the drive in use and schedule the check drive on the next restart, type Y and press enter key,
  • Now save and close all running programs on the computer and reboot your PC to scan and repair the drive errors.

Fix Disk Errors with Check Disk Utility

Repair disk errors on File Explorer

  • Press the windows key + E to open file explorer then click on This Pc,
  • Then right-click the drive you want to check and select Properties.
  • Move to the Tools tab and then select Check in the Error-checking section.
  • If Windows determines that everything is running smoothly, it will suggest that you don’t need to scan the drive, And To run CHKDSK anyway, select Scan drive.

Check disk for errors

  • This will start scanning the dive for errors and may take some time between few minutes to half an hour,
  • Once complete, CHKDSK will either tell you that no errors were found or if it does find any, it will suggest you fix them.

drive scan successfully

Use of SFC command  in windows 11

The SFC also known as the system file checker utility is a command line tool that mainly scans and repairs Windows system files. The previous command CHKDSK finds and fix error in the file system of disk drive but the SFC (System File Checker) scan and look for Windows system files for errors, corrupted or modified and it try to repair and replace them with the correct ones.

Repair corrupted system files using sfc command

  • Again open the command prompt as administrator,
  • Now type sfc /scannow and press the enter key to execute the command,
  • This will start scanning protected system files and replace corrupted files with a cached copy that is located in a compressed folder at %WinDir%\System32\dllcache.
  • The Sfc scan process may take some time between 5 to 30 min, make sure you leave the Command Prompt window open until it’s complete.

scan all protected system files, and replace corrupted files with a cached copy that is located in a compressed folder at %WinDir%\System32\dllcache.

SFC scan windows 11

Note- If you only want to scan but not repair corrupted system files, type: sfc /verifyonly  

Once SFC has finished scanning, you’ll see one of three messages:

  • Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations. This means that whatever’s causing your PC problems isn’t related to a system file.
  •  Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and successfully repaired them. This should hopefully mean that your problems have been solved.
  • Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some of them. This means that system files are to blame, but SFC can’t replace them. Try running the tool again in Safe Mode. If you still get the same result, don’t despair: it’s time to use DISM.

Use of DISM command on windows 11

DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) is another most powerful tool that performs an advanced scan to repair system files it’s very helpful when SFC fails to repair them.

DISM may require an active internet connection

Check your operating system health using DISM command

  • First, you need to open an elevated Command Prompt
  • Type the command Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth and press enter key,
  • This will scan the windows 11 system images and try to fix the issues by connecting to Windows servers and downloading the required files to fix the problems in your OS.

DISM restore health command

  • This can take around 10-15 minutes up to a few hours to finish depending on the level of corruption.
  • Once done you need to run the sfc /scannow command again to repair corrupted system files on your computer.

Overall CHKDSK repair errors on the hard drive while SFC analyzes your system files and replaces them with the correct one and DISM scans and patches faulty files in the component store of the Windows system image, allowing SFC to function correctly.

  • What if the above commands didn’t fix the problem? 

If you are still having to trouble its time to utilize the system restore feature that reverts system files, settings, and programs to a time when they were working properly

  • What is the DISM command used for?

Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) is a command-line tool that is used to service Windows images.

  • Should I run DISM or SFC First? 

It is recommended to run SFC first. Then, run “DISM /Online /Cleanup-image /RestoreHealth”.

  • What is a hard disk error?

This error message might indicate an issue with sectors, data, or physical disks on the hard drive

  • What causes hard disk failure?

There are a number of causes for hard drives to fail power outages, media damage, system file corruption, overheating, water damage are common.

Also read:

Steve Ballmer
Steve Ballmer
With over 7 years of experience in the IT industry, I have experience in IT support, helpdesk, sysadmin, network admin, and cloud computing. Certified in Microsoft Technologies (MCTS and MCSA) and also Cisco Certified Professional in Routing and Switching.

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