Exploring Distinctions Among CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM in Windows 10

Exploring Distinctions Among CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM in Windows 10
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Exploring Distinctions Among CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM in Windows 10. When your computer begins to show problems, such as error messages, a decrease in speed, or acting oddly, you have the option to utilize the diagnostic tools provided by Windows 10 to attempt to resolve the issue. CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM are responsible for assessing the condition of your hard drive and mending corrupted files. However, these three tools have distinct functions and focus on different aspects of your system. While it’s possible to run all three—CHKDSK, SFC, and DISM—doing so may consume unnecessary time and effort, depending on the specific issue you’re facing. In this guide, we’ll clarify when and how to apply this trio of troubleshooting utilities.

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When should I use CHKDSK?

When your computer starts acting weird, like slowing down or getting stuck during shutdown, the first tool to try is CHKDSK, which stands for Check Disk.

CHKDSK looks at your whole hard drive and tries to find and fix problems in your files and the file system itself. It also checks for bad spots on your drive, which are like damaged areas that can’t be read. CHKDSK either tries to repair these problems or tells your computer not to use them.

Sometimes, Windows itself runs CHKDSK when your computer starts up because it senses trouble with your hard drive. This can happen for simple reasons like not shutting down your computer properly, or more serious issues like a virus or your hard drive about to fail. But remember, CHKDSK won’t fix anything unless you tell it to.

To keep your computer healthy and prevent future issues and data loss, it’s a good idea to run CHKDSK manually at least once a month as part of your regular computer care routine. You can do this in a few different ways:

READ ALSO: 5 Methods to Reboot Your Windows Computer

Use CMD to run CHKDSK:

For better control when checking your disk, you should use CHKDSK from an elevated Command Prompt.

Here’s how:

  • Type “cmd” into the Windows search box.
  • Right-click on “Command Prompt” in the results and choose “Run as administrator.”
  • Now, let’s run CHKDSK from the Command Prompt:
  • In the Command Prompt window, type “chkdsk,” followed by a space, and then the name of the drive you want to check. For example, you can type “chkdsk c:” to check your C: drive.

Press “Enter” to start the scan in read-only mode, which means it won’t make any changes. To fix issues, you can use specific commands. Here are two:

  • To have CHKDSK fix the problems it finds, type “chkdsk /f c:” (for your C: drive).
  • To check for bad parts on the drive as well as errors, type “chkdsk /r c:.”
  • If you can’t run these commands because of a message saying “the volume is in use by another process,” Command Prompt will offer to schedule the scan for when your PC restarts.

In addition to these scans, Windows 10 has other helpful CHKDSK features that you might want to explore.

When should I use SFC?

While CHKDSK focuses on addressing issues within your hard drive’s file system, SFC, or System File Checker, specializes in inspecting and rectifying Windows system files. Whenever it detects a file that’s been corrupted or tampered with, SFC steps in to automatically replace it with the correct version.

Knowing when to call upon SFC is usually more straightforward compared to CHKDSK, as it’s often prompted by unmistakable signs. If your Windows programs crash frequently, you encounter error messages about missing DLL files, or you find yourself face-to-face with the notorious Blue Screen of Death, it’s undoubtedly time to initiate an SFC scan.

To get started, open an elevated Command Prompt by running the tool as an administrator. Then, input the following command and hit Enter:

sfc /scannow

SFC will conduct a comprehensive scan of your system, diligently repairing and replacing any files that appear damaged or missing. It sources these replacements from the Windows component store. Bear in mind that the scan might take a while, so be patient and keep the Command Prompt window open until it finishes.

If you prefer to only scan for corrupted system files without initiating repairs, use this command:

sfc /verifyonly

Once the SFC scan is complete, you’ll receive one of three messages:

“Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations”: This suggests that your PC’s issues aren’t related to system files.

“Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and successfully repaired them.” This indicates that your problems should be resolved since the corrupted files have been fixed.

“Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some of them.” This signifies that system files are indeed at fault, but SFC couldn’t replace them. In this case, try running the tool again in Safe Mode. If the issue persists, don’t worry; it’s time to turn to DISM for assistance.

READ ALSO: Troubleshooting Windows 10’s inability to Detect Wi-Fi Networks

When should I use DISM?

DISM, which stands for Deployment Image Servicing and Management, is the most powerful tool among the three Windows diagnostic options. While you won’t need these tools often, DISM is the one to turn to when you’re facing frequent crashes, freezes, or persistent errors that SFC can’t fix or when SFC won’t run.

While CHKDSK looks at your hard drive and SFC checks your system files, DISM has a different job. It finds and fixes corrupted files in the Windows system image’s component store, making sure that SFC can do its job correctly. Before you start with DISM, it’s a good idea to create a backup of your drive, just in case something goes wrong.

To use DISM, follow these steps:

Like with CHKDSK and SFC, open an elevated Command Prompt. You can do this by typing “cmd” into the Windows search bar, right-clicking on “Command Prompt” in the results, and choosing “Run as administrator.”

To check if there’s a problem with the system image without making any changes, type the following command and press Enter:

Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth

This check should only take a few seconds. If it doesn’t find any issues, you can move on.

To perform a more advanced scan to see if the component store is healthy and repairable (again, without making changes), use this command:

Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth

If DISM reports problems with the system image during this scan, proceed to the next step.

To initiate automatic repairs, DISM will connect to Windows Update to download and replace damaged files as needed. Keep in mind that this process might take up to 10 minutes and may pause for a while at around 20 seconds, which is normal. Type the following command:

Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth

Once the scan and repairs are complete, restart your PC. Afterwards, run SFC again to make sure it replaces any corrupted or missing system files.


When your computer acts up, use Windows 10’s diagnostic tools: CHKDSK for general issues, SFC for system file problems, and DISM for advanced repairs when SFC fails. Run CHKDSK for slowdowns and odd behavior, but it won’t fix without your command. Run it monthly for maintenance. SFC fixes system files, use it for crashes and errors. If it can’t fix all, consider DISM. Create a backup before using DISM. It ensures SFC works correctly by repairing system image files. Follow specific commands in an elevated Command Prompt. After DISM, restart and run SFC again to replace any remaining corrupted or missing system files.