Chkdsk has been one of those little tools built into almost every version of Windows that helps fix NTFS file system errors, file system metadata corruption, or hard drive errors. Before Windows Vista and Windows 7, chkdsk hadn’t changed much.
In Windows Vista and 7, some significant speed improvements were made to allow chkdsk to run faster, but chkdsk still depended on the number of files stored in a volume.
Because of this inherent design, it can take several hours for chkdsk to finish scanning a large drive with many files. Fortunately, in Windows 8 and Windows 10, chkdsk has been completely revamped.
What’s even better is that there have been several additional features added to Windows 8/10 to detect and repair file system errors, so you may never need to run chkdsk again.
In this article, I will explain the changes to chkdsk in Windows 8/10 and the additional file system health tools that have been added. With Windows 8/10, many errors will now be corrected automatically while Windows is running which previously required running chkdsk after a reboot.
Windows 10: Chkdsk and File System Health
First, I immediately noticed the number of new options included with chkdsk in Windows 10 instead of Windows 7. Below is a screenshot of the list of settings for chkdsk in Windows 7:
Here is the list of settings for chkdsk in Windows 10:
As you can see after / B, there are about eight more new parameters. I will review it in more detail in a bit. First, let’s detail how the new health model works in Windows 8/10.
For starters, you probably remember how a unit was marked as healthy or not (dirty). That is no longer the case. There is now a whole set of steps or states for the health of the file system:
Let’s go through these. The first is Healthy. That means just that: the system is healthy and there are no problems. After that, there is something that is said Online self-healing, which is not shown as a stage, but occurs between Healthy i Punctual verification is required.
Online self-healing is an NTFS feature introduced in Windows Vista that allows the file system to be fixed while online (i.e., Windows may still be running). In Windows 8/10, the number of problems that can be cured on their own has increased.
After self-healing, corruption needs to be verified. This is because some damage is memory related and not actually disk related. To detect this, Windows 8/10 has added a new service called Punctual verification service.
The service is only activated by the file system and will check if the damage is really damaged or not. If so, we move on to the next stage: An online scan is required.
Windows 8/10 has built-in maintenance tasks that run every day. Windows will check for this verified damage and start it on your system to fix it later. Again, all this is done while the system is online. The next stage is Spot Fix. This is where chkdsk on Windows 8/10 is completely different.
Spot Fix is a new setting that checks the disk and fixes problems in seconds. The time it takes to run chkdsk using spotfix is based on the number of corruptions rather than the number of files, as in previous versions of Windows. This means that everything is fixed in seconds. Here is a graph showing the usage time chkdsk / f vs the new chkdsk / spotfix.
As you can see, you can wait 6 hours running chkdsk in the previous mode or 2 seconds running in the new mode. Amazing! Now, to be clear, a spotfix means you have to reboot the system to fix the problem.
In Windows 8/10, there are two ways to manually run a chkdsk on your system. First, you can go to Computer, click the drive, and then click Properties.
Click on Tools and then click To check.
Most errors can be fixed without restarting, but if a one-time fix is needed, you will be prompted to restart. Again, remember, it will only take a few seconds to fix. The other way is the command prompt, which you saw earlier. The new options are:
– / scan – runs an online scan, which means it will fix everything that can be fixed without rebooting.
– / forceofflinefix – should be used with / scan and is basically the same as running / spotfix
– / perf – You can make online scanning even faster with this setting. It will consume more resources and slow down other tasks.
– / spotfix – The new chkdsk magic point fixing feature that fixes errors in seconds rather than hours
– / offlinescanandfix – An offline review will be run and resolved
– / freeorphanedchains – This only applies to FAT / FAT32 and exFAT systems. This will free up chains of orphaned clusters instead of retrieving them.
– / markclean – It will mark the net volume without detecting any corruption.
When you run / spotfix or / offlinescanandfix on the currently used volume, you will be prompted to schedule the scan the next time the system is restarted.
Type to check if a scan of a drive is scheduled chkntfs c: or the volume you want to check.
Overall, the new chkdsk for Windows 8/10 has some big improvements and the new health status of the file system makes detecting, verifying and repairing file corruption quick and easy. Enjoy! Image source and credit: Building the Windows 8 block.