Windows has included the Check Disk tool for a long time now. With it, you can check the partitions and drives in your computer for disk errors, bad sectors and so on. You can also use this tool to repair those errors and have your drives working normally again. Unfortunately, to make things confusing for users, in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1, this tool was renamed to Error Checking. However, the command-line tool has kept its original name as in Windows 7: chkdsk. Here’s how to use Check Disk in all modern versions of Windows:
NOTE: This guide is for users of Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7. If you are using Windows 7, skip to the second page of this guide to learn how Check Disk works in Windows 7. On this page we are covering Windows 10 and Windows 8.1. In order to use the tool covered in this article, you need to be logged in as an administrator.
How to start Check Disk in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1
First, open File Explorer in Windows 10 or Windows 8.1. If you don’t know how, read the appropriate guide:
Go to This PC and then to “Devices and drives”. Right click or press and hold the drive that you want to check for errors and, in the right click menu, click or tap Properties.
The Properties window is opened for the drive that you selected. Go to the Tools tab and look for the “Error checking” section. There, click or tap the Check button.
The Error Checking window is opened for the selected drive.
How to check a disk for errors in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 with Error Checking
Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 automatically run maintenance tasks at regular intervals.
When the Error Checking window is opened, it is likely that it will say “You don’t need to scan this drive”. Even so, you can force a manual check, by clicking or tapping Scan drive.
A progress bar is shown, sharing the process of the error checking process for the drive that you selected. When it’s over and everything is all right with your drive, you are informed that your drive was successfully scanned and no errors were found.
If you click on the Show Details link that is shown together with this notification, the Event Viewer application is opened straight at the detailed log of the error checking process. If you scroll through this log you can learn the stages through which the scan went and the detailed results of the whole error checking process.
This is very useful information if you want to learn what the Check Disk tool (or the chkdsk command) does in Windows.
If you want to learn about the Event Viewer and how it works, read this guide: The Basics About Working with the Event Viewer in Windows.
When you are done, close the Event Viewer window and press the Close button in the Error Checking window.
How to repair errors on your drive with Check Disk, in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1
It may happen that the error checking process says that it found errors on your drive and that you need to repair, like in the screenshot below.
When that happens, click Close and a new Error Checking window is displayed with a button that says “Repair drive”. Click or tap on this button.
Now you are shown one or two options: “Repair now” and “Repair on next restart”. Choose the one that you prefer.
If you press “Repair now", a progress bar is shown of the repair process. When the drive is repaired, you are informed. If you click or tap “Show Details” the Event Viewer loads, where you can see the complete logs of the repairs that were made. If you don’t want to see the logs, press Close and you are done.
If you press “Repair on next restart”, the repair process is automatically started the next time you restart your Windows computer or device. Before Windows loads, you are told that “To skip disk checking, press any key within” a number of seconds (maximum 10).
We recommend that you don’t do that, so that the repair process can be performed for the drive with errors. Then, the Check Disk tool automatically scans and repairs the drive with errors.
When the repair is over, Windows is loaded and you can sign in. A complete log of the repairs that were made can be found in the Event Viewer tool mentioned earlier in this article.
Go to the second page of this guide to learn how to use the Check Disk tool in Windows 7.