Windows 7 and Windows 8 include a disk error checking utility named Check Disk. It allows you to scan your partitions and see if they have issues with lost sectors, bad sectors or file corruption. Let’s see how to run Check Disk, identify and fix issues with the data stored on your computer’s hard discs.
NOTE: You must be logged in as an Administrator to perform a disk scan and solve your problems.
How to Start the Check Disk Process in Windows 7 & Windows 8
First, you need to open Windows Explorer in Windows 7 or File Explorer in Windows 8. Then, right click (or press and hold) the drive you want to check for errors and select Properties .
In the partition’s Properties window, go to the Tools tab. The first section is named Error checking. This where you launch the disc error checking wizard. In Windows 8, you there is Check button.
In Windows 7, the same button is named Check now.
Pressing it will launch the error checking wizard. From now on, the way Windows 7 and Windows 8 behave is different. That’s why we are going to cover each operating system in separate sections.
How to Check Your Disc for Errors in Windows 7
When you click Check now, the Check Disk window opens, displaying two options for performing the scan of the selected drive.
The first, "Automatically fix file system errors", allows Windows 7 to automatically repair the problems detected during the scan. If unchecked, the disk check will display the problems found but will not fix them.
The second option, "Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors", allows Windows 7 to perform a deeper scan that attempts to find and repair physical errors on the hard disk itself. When you check this option, the scan will take much longer to complete, but more problems will be identified and fixed, in case they exist.
When you are done enabling the options you want, press Start.
The scanning process begins and a progress bar is displayed.
When the scan is complete, you are shown a brief description of the results. Click the See details arrow to view more detailed information.
A report is shown, that contains information like partition space, files that are in use by the system, free space available on the disk or how many bad sectors were identified is displayed.
When done reading, close the report by clicking Close.
Scheduling Disk Checks & Forcing Dismounts in Windows 7
If you select a disk that is in use, like the partition where Windows 7 is installed, you'll be prompted to schedule the disk check for the next time you restart the computer.
That’s because there are many running processes using files on that disk and it cannot be unmounted, in order for the check disk to be performed. If you encounter a warning that "Windows can’t check the disk while it’s in use", your options are to click Schedule disk check or cancel the scan.
If you scheduled the disk check, when Windows 7 restarts, you have only 10 seconds to press any key to cancel the operation. If you decide to continue by not pressing any key on your keyboard, the scan begins.
When finished, you are shown a report of what happened. It contains detailed information like partition space, free space available, how many bad sectors were identified etc. Then, you will be able to log into Windows 7 again.
Other times, when you try to scan a partition that is in use but can be dismounted, Windows 7 will give you the option to "Force a dismount". Click this button and the selected partition will be dismounted and made inaccessible to Windows applications while the scan is performed.
The scan runs and when done, Windows 7 will automatically mounts that partition so that it is available again.
How to Check Your Disc for Errors in Windows 8
The check disk process in Windows 8 is different. It runs slightly faster, it is easier to scan a disc and the whole experience is generally better.
First of all, Windows 8 runs a regular maintenance process that includes a check for disc errors. More details about this process can be found here: How to Use the Action Center in Windows 8 to Keep the PC Running Smooth.
When you launch a manual check, it is very likely that it will say "You don’t need to scan this drive".
Even so, you can force a manual check, by clicking or tapping Scan drive.
The scan will automatically scan for errors, bad sectors and anything that needs to be checked. There’s no need to select what you want to scan for. Then, you are shown a progress bar and an approximation of the time remaining until the scan is over.
We learned that the process is over a bit faster than estimated.
When the scan is done, you are informed.
If you want to learn more details about the whole process and its results. Click or tap Show Details. This opens the Event Viewer, where you can find complete details about the scan that was just performed.
To close the Error Checking wizard, click or tap Close.
IMPORTANT: Other good changes in Windows 8 are that the scan disc wizard is able to check any partition, including the system partition, even if it is in use. You no longer need to schedule disc scans and restart the operating system, like in Windows 7. A welcome change indeed.
Check Disk can save the day when problems appear with your data and your hard disk(s). For example, if a power outage takes place, your computer stops and this can cause file corruption. In this scenario, this tool is a great help.
If you want to learn more about other useful tools in Windows, don’t hesitate to read the articles recommended below.