How to Repair Errors on a Hard Drive

Keep your hard disk drive healthy with these troubleshooting tips

Detail of a Computer Hard Drive
Daisuke Morita / Photodisc / Getty Images

The first sign that a hard disk drive (HDD) has problems is when you encounter logical errors on the disk. When a drive has logical errors, unreadable parts of the drive are called bad sectors. When a disk has a bad sector, it doesn't necessarily mean there is anything physically wrong with the disk; you may just need to repair the drive.

This article applies specifically to Windows PCs. For help with Apple computers, see Repair Your Mac's Drives With Disk Utility's First Aid.

How to Repair a Drive With the CKHDSK Utility

The best way to keep your HDD in good condition is to use the CHKDSK utility. This program checks your disk and fixes hard drive errors. CHKDSK scans the hard drive, corrects logical sector errors, marks bad sectors that cannot be fixed, and moves data to safe, healthy places on the hard drive. It's a handy tool, but this utility does not operate automatically.

The step-by-step process of how to run CHKDSK differs depending on your version of Windows. The utility is primarily meant for PCs with hard disk drives, so if you have a computer with a solid state drive (SSD), CHKDSK really isn't necessary. SSDs come with their own built-in system to deal with errors and don't require CHKDSK.

How to Use the Windows 10 Disk Checking Utility

Windows 10 comes with a disk checking utility that simplifies the process for repairing drive errors. To get started:

  1. Open a File Explorer window and select This PC from the left-hand navigation panel.

    Open a File Explorer window and select This PC from the left-hand navigation panel.
  2. Right click on your primary drive (it should be labeled C:) under Devices and drives, then select Properties.

    Right click on your primary drive (it should be labeled C:) under Devices and drives, then select Properties.
  3. Select the Tools tab.

    Select the Tools tab.
  4. Select Check.

    Select Check.
  5. Another window will appear. It may say that Windows hasn't found any errors, but you can check your drive anyway. If that's the case, select Scan drive and the scanning will begin.

How to Run CHKDSK in Windows 10

In the latest version of Windows, the legacy CHKDSK tool runs from the command prompt. Unlike older versions of CHKDSK, you don't have to reboot your PC to run the utility. To get started in Windows 10, open the Command Prompt as an administratorTo run the check disk utility on a PC with one drive, all you have to do is enter chkdsk. This command will only check your disk for errors; it won't actually do anything to fix any problems it finds.

To fix problems, you must add command switches, which are optional parameters that tell a command-line utility to take an extra step. For CHKDSK, the switches are "/f" (fix) and "/r" (recover readable information). The full command, then, is:

C:\chkdsk /f /r

Note the spaces in the command, as these are critical with command line utilities.