The Windows system file checker is a very underused tool in my opinion as it has got me out of a few holes in the past. Most people don’t even realise this tool exists in both Windows Vista and Windows 7.
The tool is designed to check for and repair corrupted and damaged files on the operating system when the system is not behaving as it should.
A good time to try to use this tool is when Windows is giving errors or crashing unexpectedly as this can be down to missing or corrupt system files that need to be repair. The system file checker tool checks all the system files and if it finds problems attempts to repair them with very little input or technical knowhow from the user.
The instruction below need to be followed carefully for the tool to run.
Open an elevated Command Prompt
- Click the start button in the bottom left corner and then select all programs.
- Scroll down to accessories and click. You should see command prompt. (see below image.)
- Right click on command prompt and select run as administrator. This is usually the 2nd option on the list. Please note that if you are not the administrator you will be asked for the administrator password.
- You will likely receive an account control screen. If you do click yes. You should now be presented with a screen similar to the one below. You will know if you have elevated the prompt correctly if the top of the window says “Administrator: Command Prompt”
After getting to the command prompt you have a number of ways you can use the system file checker to check the files
Verify if files are corrupted
This option does not actually repair any files it just checks the integrity of the system files. It does not modify files in any way.
At the elevated command prompt type sfc /verifyonly and then press enter.
This method not only scans and checks the integrity of the system files it also repairs or replaces damaged files.
Important Note: Because the file checker can replace damaged files it can affect any themes you have so be sure to back up any system files that you may have edited to create your themes.
In the elevated command prompt type sfc /scannow and then press enter.
The scan will start to run and may take time to complete. You will see a progress counter that says “Verification 10% complete” for example
When the verification has finished you will be presented with a completed message and notification if any files have been repaired.
Running in repair environment
Sometimes it is not possible to run the system file checker in the windows environment but you can run it in the repair mode.