Windows 7 chkdsk doesn’t, well, check the disk!

February 19, 2012 in Windows 7 by Gerry Frawley

I still run into a situation every once in a while where Windows 7 does not run a chkdsk properly.

Chkdsk (Chkdsk.exe) is a command-line tool that checks  your harddrive for problems. The tool then tries to repair any that it finds. For  example, Chkdsk can repair problems related to bad sectors (although it will not fix a bad sector), lost clusters,  cross-linked files, and directory errors. To use Chkdsk, you must log on as an  administrator or as a member of the Administrators group in Windows 7 or Windows Vista, which is accomplished by clicking START and typing CMD in the search box at the bottom. CMD will then appear in the top of the START MENU, where you can right click it, and choose RUN AS ADMINISTRATOR.

CHKDSK should be a part of your monthly maintenance–it can sometimes head off serious problems that might prevent your computer from starting.

Anyway, back to Windows 7 and the mystery of the “WHY THE FRIG DOESN’T CHKDSK RUN?!?”

Once you’ve got the command line interface up and running, (above) there are a variety of switches you can use, but the most common command is to type:

chkdsk c: /f

This command tells Windows to “fix” any errors it finds on the volume (drive) “c:” , which is most cases is your system volume. (You can also tell Windows to run “chkdsk c: /r” which is like chkdsk c: /f on steroids…in addition to checking the basic structure of the drive, it also doubles down and adds two additional phases to the process–greatly increasing the run time).

Windows will not run chkdsk on a volume that is in use, so after you run the command above it will inform you the system is locked and ask if you would like to run it the next time your computer is started. Normally, you type “Y”, hit enter, and then reboot your computer and check disk runs, looking something like this:

But not on some Windows 7 machines!

Chkdsk worked just fine in beta versions of Windows 7, but somewhere between the last test version and the general release something changed and for some computers running Windows 7 the CHKDSK /f command simply will not run–though oddly, the CHKDSK /r command does run. The problem with that is on todays modern computers with large harddrives, CHKDSK /r can take a couple hours to run.

Microsoft implies this is a problem with computers that have certain infrared controllers on them, though I have seen this happen on computers without any such controller.

When a computer has this problem, the chkdisk command starts when the computer is rebooting, and warns the user that it will start in 10 seconds. It begins a countdown–10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1…..and hangs!

Very annoying. The only way to restart the computer is to do a hard reset (hold down the power button for 10 seconds) and if CHKDSK tries to run again, press the space bar to skip it. Again, very annoying.

Fortunately, Microsoft supplies a little know patch for computers suffering this problem.

Just go to this page

Click the REQUEST HOTFIX link on the top and follow the prompts.

After downloading and running the hotfix, your computer will run CHKDSK c: /f normally.