How to Repair Errors on a Hard Drive

Keep your hard disk drive healthy with these troubleshooting tips

The first sign that a hard disk drive (HDD) is about to fail is when you encounter logical errors on the disk. When a drive incurs this kind of operational bug, the unreadable parts of the drive are reclassified as bad sectors.

When a disk has a bad sector, it doesn't necessarily mean there's anything physically wrong with the disk drive; it usually means that the drive can probably be repaired with software.

This article applies specifically to Windows 10. To repair your Mac's drive, use the Apple Disk Utility First Aid.

How to Repair a Drive With the CKHDSK Command

The best way to keep your HDD in good condition is to use the CHKDSK command utility. This utility 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 it doesn't operate automatically. Also, there are a few things you'll need to do if it gets stuck scanning while you're running it.

The step-by-step process of how to run CHKDSK differs depending on the 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 isn't necessary. SSDs come with a built-in system to deal with errors.

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. Select the the File Explorer app in the Windows taskbar, or use the Win+E keyboard shortcut to open File Explorer.

    Selecting File Explorer in Windows 10 taskbar.
  2. Select This PC from the left pane.

    Windows File Explorer, selecting "This PC."
  3. Under Devices and drives, right-click your primary drive (it should be labeled C:).

    Windows File Explorer, selecting C drive.
  4. Select Properties in the drop-down list.

    Windows File Explorer, right-clicking on C drive and selecting "Properties."
  5. Select the Tools tab, then select Check.

    Windows File Explorer, selecting "Check" in Tools tab.
  6. Select Scan drive in the pop-up box.

    Windows File Explorer, selecting "Scan Drive."

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.

  1. Open Command Prompt as an administrator.

  2. To run the check disk utility on a PC with one drive, enter chkdsk. This command only checks your disk for errors; it won't fix any problems it finds.

  3. 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.

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