What to Do When Chkdsk Gets Stuck Scanning

Running Chkdsk on Windows 8 or 10? Be patient

When your PC starts running slower and slower, you may opt to run chkdsk to check and repair any drive errors for better performance. If your computer's operating system is Windows 8 or Windows 10, and you ran chkdsk, you may have encountered a frustrating situation in which it looks as if chkdsk has stopped working. The progress percentage has stalled for a long time—so long, that you can't tell if the whole thing has frozen up.

In most cases, chkdsk is still running. The problem is, in Windows 8 and Windows 10, Microsoft changed the appearance of the chkdsk display. It no longer shows you what exactly is going on the way earlier versions did. 

The Waiting Game

The short solution to this problem is one that can be frustrating: Wait it out. This wait can be quite long, hours even. Some people who have encountered this issue and waited, trusting that the system would pull itself together, were rewarded with success after anywhere from 3 to 7 hours.

This calls for a lot of patience, so if you can, save yourself the stress when you need to run chkdsk by doing it when you won't need your computer for a considerable block of time.

What Chkdsk Is Doing

Chkdsk is a utility in Windows that helps maintain the integrity of your hard drive's file system and its data. It also examines the physical hard drive disks, looking for damage. If there is a problem with your hard drive's file system, chkdsk tries to remedy it. If there is physical damage, chkdsk attempts to recover the data from that portion of the drive. It doesn't do this automatically, but chkdsk prompts you to run these processes in these cases.

Inside a hard drive

Your hard drive's file system can become disorderly over time as files are constantly accessed, updated, moved, copied, deleted, and closed. All that shuffling around over time can potentially lead to errors — a little like a busy person misplacing a file in a filing cabinet. 

If you're impatient, you probably want to do a hard shutdown on your computer by holding down the power button to start over. This is not usually advisable, because rebooting while the hard drive is in the middle of reading or writing could cause bigger problems — potentially even corrupting Windows in a way that would require a complete reinstall of the operating system.

It is recommended that you execute a shutdown in Windows; this gives the operating system a chance to tidy up the place before closing down.

When Chkdsk Is Stuck or Frozen

If you've waited hours or overnight, and your chkdsk is still stuck, you need to take action.

  1. Restart your computer.

  2. Press Esc or Enter to stop chkdsk from running (if it tries to).

  3. Run the Disk Cleanup utility to clear out junk files.

    Disk Cleanup running on Windows 10
  4. Open an elevated CMD, type sfc /scannow, followed by Enter to run the System File Checker.

    SFC Scannow running on Windows 10
  5. Restart and exit chkdsk again during the startup by pressing Esc or Enter, if necessary.

  6. Open CMD as admin, type Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth, followed by Enter to repair the Windows image.

    Running Dism repair on Windows 10
  7. Run chkdsk again.

    Chkdsk run successfully on Windows 10
  8. The scan should be able to run to completion this time.

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