What are the Difference Between SFC, CHKDSK, and DISM in Windows 10?

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If you frequently face a system crash, screen freeze, or the legendary BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) on your Windows computer, it is likely that certain registry files in Windows are corrupted.

These issues can be easily fixed with the Windows 10 SFC, CHKDSK, or DISM built-in diagnostic tools.

But which tool should YOU use first on your system? Let’s first look at the difference between SFC, CHKDSK, and DISM.

Each tool works differently and it is important to know how they work. If you decide to use all three tools, it can take up to 24 hours to get effective results. To know which tool is best for you, you must first understand the basic definitions of SFC, CHKDSK, and DISM.

  • SFC (System File Checker)

SFC checks your Windows operating system for missing important files and restores them from cache.

CHKDSK scans your disk for bad sectors and tries to fix file system errors.

  • DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management)

DISM directly deals with faulty Windows images and repairs them by downloading actual replacement files from Windows online servers.

When should you use CHKDSK?

CHKDSK or Check Disk is the first step to start diagnosing your Windows system. It looks for errors in your computer’s file system and tries to fix them locally. CHKDSK examines the integrity of disk partitions for logical file system errors or corrupted entries in a volume’s master file table (MFT).

When your system shuts down suddenly, during a power outage or other incident, it is common to see incorrect entries in the file system of your operating system. These can be caused by an incorrectly configured timestamp or an incorrect file size entry. These entries can create bad sectors on your disk, causing your system to frequently slow down or crash. CHKDSK looks for these errors and tries to correct them.

However, in some cases, CHKDSK only informs the user about the problem and does nothing to fix it. This happens when CHKDSK considers the error to be severe or critical. Negligence and repeated overwriting of existing bad sectors is the reason why your hard drive gets to such a bad state that CHKDSK cannot repair.

Here are two easy ways to run CHKDSK on your Windows computer

1. Run CHKDSK through File Explorer

  • You can run CHKDSK on your computer from Windows File Explorer like this.
  • Open File Explorer on your Windows machine. You can use the keyboard shortcut Windows + E for the same.
  • Click This PC and right-click the drive where you want to run CHKDSK.
  • Click Properties> Tools> Error Checking> Check
  • run chksdk via windows file explorer
  • You may receive a message that Windows says it does not need to scan this drive. This is because Windows thinks your disk is completely fine and a CHKDSK scan is not required. However, if you still want to run CHKDSK, click Scan Drive.
  • no need to scan this chkdsk drive
  • CHKDSK can take anywhere from one minute to more than two hours or more, depending on the type of storage or the size of the disk. Generally faster on SSD and slower on HDD according to META. Once the scan is complete, CHKDSK will report any errors if it is scanned under the radar. Otherwise it will just show you No Errors Found.
  • chkdsk scan successful

2. Run CHKDSK from the command prompt.

You can also run CHKDSK on your Windows computer through the command prompt. Alternatively, you can also use the same process mentioned below in Windows Powershell.

1. Search for CMD on your Windows computer, you can use the Windows + S keyboard shortcut or just press the Windows key to open the search bar.

2. Now right click on the command prompt and select the Run as administrator option.

run cmd as admininstrator

3. In the cmd terminal, type chkdsk (space) drive letter. For example, if you want to run CHKDSK on your C: drive, type

chkdsk c:

run chkdsk on cmd windows

Now hit Enter on your keyboard.

This will run CHKDSK on your computer in read-only mode. If you want the CHKDSK tool to fix the problems on its own, use these CHKDSK commands.

To fix problems scanned by CHKDSK automatically, type.

chkdsk / fc:

To scan for errors and bad sectors, type

chkdsk / rc:

Here, c: represents the name of the unit, which is the alphabet assigned to your unit.

Running CHKDSK through the command prompt takes the same amount of time to run through Windows File Explorer.

CHKDSK shows “the volume is being used by another process”

This happens because while CHKDSK is running, it has to be the only tool accessing the drive in that instance. In such cases, the command prompt will ask you to reschedule the scan after rebooting. You can also try manually closing all other programs on your computer to correct this error.

When should you use SFC?

SFC or System File Checker scans all system files in Windows, including protected files to see if they are damaged, not. If SFC finds any corrupted system files in Windows, it will replace those corrupted files using a cached copy. These cache files are placed in a compressed folder on Windows itself, and SFC will selectively replace those corrupted files with a copy obtained from the cache.

The operating system caches a copy in a folder in the vault when protected files are modified in Windows as a backup. SFC makes use of these cached files, effectively replacing corrupted files with their original state. This is an effective way to repair system files.

SFC can also repair errors in the registry data. It uses the same concept of replacing modified files with cached copies. Microsoft first introduced SFC in Windows 98 to avoid the problems users face when critical system files have been modified to a point where the operating system becomes unstable for use. If your computer crashes frequently, or you face Blue Screen of Death quite often, running SFC can solve your problem.

How to run SFC Scannow on Windows

1. Open the command prompt as administrator by searching for CMD in the Windows search bar, right-click on it and choose the option Run as administrator.

2. You can let SFC do the correction on its own or run it in a read-only format,

3. For a full scan and automatic repair of files damaged by SFC, type this command

sfc / scannow

sfc scannow cmd windows

If you want to run SFC in read-only mode, use this command

sfc / verifyonly command

In read-only mode, SFC will only notify the user of file system errors and will not attempt to correct them. Later, the user can fix those problems on their own or run the sfc / scannow command again to allow SFC to fix those problems.

sfc scannow successful

After a successful SFC scan, you will get one of these three results.

1. Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations

This means that your system has no corrupted or missing files. The file system is normal.

2. Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and successfully repaired them

This result means that SFC was able to identify errors in your system and correct them. Therefore, no further action is required on the part of the user in this case.

3. Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but could not repair some of them

If you get this result, it means that SFC could diagnose the problems in your system but could not fix them. You can try repeating an SFC scan, which may fix the problem. However, if the problem persists, you will need to run a DISM scan on your Windows computer.

When should I use DISM?

DISM stands for Deployment Image Servicing and Management. It is the most advanced scan in Windows and we recommend using it only if CHKDSK and SFC don’t work for you. DISM is a command line tool that services Windows images and key parts of Windows setup and recovery.

DISM can be thought of as a virtual disk with the operating system loaded on itself. It scans the core files of your operating system to check for misbehaving files. DISM may require an active Internet connection for full functionality (CHKDSK and DFC do not require an Internet connection).

The DISM tool is the ultimate solution for your system crashes as it targets the operating system directly, including administrator privileges. In most cases, DISM will fix all critical issues and pave the way for SFC and CHKDSK to work normally. It is recommended to run a CHKDSK and SFC scan after a successful DISM scan.

How to run DISM on Windows?

1. Open the elevated command prompt in administrator mode on your computer.

2. Enter these DISM commands to check the status of your drive. This step gives us an idea of ​​whether the core components of your disk are damaged or not.

Dism / Online / Cleanup-Image / CheckHealth

dism full health check

3. After this step, if DISM does not detect any damage, we can proceed to check your drive status for an advanced DISM scan by typing the command given below.

Dism / Online / Cleanup-Image / ScanHealth

dism scan entire windows

4. If this step returns with an error, run the same command again. This time, DISM will attempt to troubleshoot by connecting to Windows servers and downloading the files necessary to troubleshoot your operating system. This process can take 15-20 minutes.

5. Once this is done, we must apply these fixes to the operating system permanently. For that, type the command given below and hit Enter on your keyboard.

Dism / Online / Cleanup-Image / RestoreHealth

After successfully completing all the above steps, you need to restart your Windows computer.

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James Hogan
James Hogan
James Hogan is a senior staff writer at Bollyinside, where he has been covering various topics, including laptops, gaming gear, keyboards, storage, and more. During that period, they evaluated hundreds of laptops and thousands of accessories and built a collection of entirely too many mechanical keyboards for their own use.


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