Can Windows 7 chkdsk save your computer from crashing?

With Windows 7 chkdsk, Microsoft continues to support computer users like yourself with a handy tool to perform diagnostic or even reparative tasks. Chkdsk in Windows 7 is one of the most overlooked components in Windows 7 when it comes to getting your computer healthy again.

Is chkdsk for Windows 7 for you?

Short answer is: yes. If you’re scared that running chkdsk in Windows 7 will blow up your pc or, even worse, that using Windows 7 chkdsk is far too complicated for you, relax.

It’s easy.

Your pc will not explode and, if you follow the simple steps below, there’s a good chance that you will fix that strange behavior on your pc. Plus, you’ll feel good about yourself because it helped you fix your computer and saved you an expensive trip to the computer repair shop. You wouldn’t be the first person to invite a computer repair technician at home, have him spend way too much time trying to figure out what went wrong and then have him present you an invoice from here ‘till Nova Scotia for a problem that could have been easily fixed by utilizing chkdsk.

Is chkdsk really that powerful?

If you’re wondering whether running Windows 7 chkdsk can really fix your computer, you have to be aware that this is exactly what many pc repair professionals would do as one of their very first diagnostic or repair actions (depending on the symptoms of course). I’ve seen cases where a computer that would not start at all anymore, got completely fixed simply by using chkdsk. Chkdsk is also able to detect bad sectors on your hard drive, which can appear by the wear-and-tear of everyday use, and it can find and fix corruptions in the file system on your hard drive.

If you’re wondering how for heaven’s sake the file system on your computer could become corrupt, it can be in one of the rare events where your computer wasn’t shut down properly, it can be caused by a power-failure or a program that got in trouble and crashed.

There are many more reasons why a Windows file system could become corrupt, but the take-home lesson here is: Windows 7 chkdsk is so easy to use that you simply can’t afford to not give it a try before you need to switch to some more advanced troubleshooting.

Chkdsk Windows 7: The Steps

There’s one important thing you have to know, though, and that is that Windows 7 chkdsk can run in two modes:

  1. Graphical use interface (GUI) mode and
  2. Command line interface (cmd)

The GUI mode is by far the easiest and will, in most cases be perfectly sufficient in fixing your disk or file problems. You might be surprised about the multitude of problems that Windows 7 chkdsk will help fix for you with a few clicks of the mouse. Let’s start by taking you through the steps to run chkdsk in Windows 7, in graphical mode.

First, launch Windows Explorer by right-clicking on the Start button and selecting “Open Windows Explorer”.

Windows 7 chkdsk via Explorer

Alternatively, you can use your keyboard shortcut combination by pressing the Windows-key and the letter “E” simultaneously. (If you’re not sure what the Windows-key is, it’s the key at the bottom-left of your keyboard, next to the ALT-key, and usually has a Windows-icon on it.)

In the Explorer window, on the left-hand side, navigate to the drive you want to scan for errors (in most cases, this will be the system drive or c: -drive.)

Then, right-click on the drive letter representing the hard disk that you want to scan and select “Properties”, like shown in the image below.

Windows 7 chkdsk via Explorer

The disk properties windows will appear and now you can click the “Check Now” button under the “Tools” tab.

Windows 7 chkdsk via Explorer

You will then see a “Check Disk Options” dialog.

Windows 7 chkdsk via Explorer

Make sure to select both check boxes and click “Start”. If it’s your system drive you’re scanning (the drive that contains your Windows installation), you will see a warning that Windows 7 chkdsk can’t run while the drive is in use, so click the button to schedule a disk check on the next startup of your computer. Then click the “Ok” button in the disk properties window and restart your computer.

Actually, you don’t *have* to restart your computer at this point, so if you want to perform some other tasks before restarting your pc, you can still do so.

You can even cancel the scheduled chkdsk if you want to, which we will discuss below in the command line interface option of Windows 7 chkdsk.

Upon restarting your computer, you’ll see Windows 7 chkdsk in action, like in the image below:

Windows 7 chkdsk via Explorer

As you can see, here you also have about 10 seconds to cancel the Windows 7 chkdsk routine if you change your mind and want to start Windows normally.

If you let chkdsk run as scheduled, you will see a 5-stage process going on and a report about the health of your file system and possibly a number of corrected problems.

Windows 7 chkdsk via Explorer

After that your computer will automatically restart.

Windows 7 chkdsk in command line mode

In order to launch chkdsk from the command line, start a command prompt box first by clicking on the Windows Start Menu and typing “cmd” (without the quotes) in the search box. In the resulting list of programs, look at the top and right-click on “cmd.exe” and select “Run as Administrator”.

Windows 7 chkdsk via command prompt

Windows will then show you a User Account Control windows where it wants to know whether or not you want to allow the Windows Command Processor to make changes to your computer.

Windows 7 chkdsk via command line

Click “Yes” to continue to the command window.

In the command window, type “chkdsk c: /f /r”, where you substitute “c:” by another drive letter if you want to scan another drive than your c: -drive.

Windows 7 chkdsk via command prompt

Windows will inform you that chkdsk cannot run if your drive is in use and will suggest to schedule a run upon the next startup of your computer.

Windows 7 chkdsk via cmd

Type “Y” (without the quotes) and hit ENTER to do so. Chkdsk will run upon the next startup, as described above in the GUI mode of chkdsk.

You don’t have to immediately restart your pc at this time, so you can carry out other tasks if necessary.

How to check if chkdsk is scheduled upon startup?

If you want to check whether or not a chkdsk run is scheduled to run on the next reboot, open an elevated command prompt, like described above, and type:

“chkntfs c:” (without the quotes) and hit ENTER. (substitute c: by any other drive that you want to check)

You will see a message that “chkdsk has been scheduled to run manually to run on next reboot” if that were to be the case.

Windows 7 chkdsk via command prompt

If you want to cancel a scheduled chkdsk on reboot, type:

“chkntfs c: /x” (again, substitute c: if needed)

The system will tell you “The type of file system is NTFS”, which is not very helpful in letting you know that the scheduled chkdsk is cancelled, but the scheduled run will indeed be cancelled.

You can double-check that by typing:

“chkntfs c:” (without the quotes)

And a message that “c: is not dirty” will reveal that no chkdsk is scheduled.

If you want to try and use Windows 7 chkdsk to fix a computer that won’t boot normally, you’ll have to try and start the pc in “Safe Mode” and invoke chkdsk from there. I’ve seen several cases where a run of chkdsk indeed reanimated a non-bootable pc, so it is certainly worth a try.

From Windows 7 chkdsk to other Windows tips & tricks.


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