What Is Chkdsk Utility?

by Contributor

The CHKDSK command (Check Disk), the predecessor of Scandisk, was originally provided by Microsoft as part of the DOS 2.0 (Disk Operating System) to provide a rudimentary means of checking data integrity on floppy diskettes. This functionality continued with the introduction of hard disk drives in the mid-1980s. With the introduction of Windows, CHKDSK has remained a integral part of Microsoft's operating systems, having been continually updated; and is still supported, to a certain extent, in Microsoft Vista.


In the earliest (DOS) versions, CHKDSK allowed for two switches (additional modifying options), the /F and the /V, aside from specifying which drive you wish to perform the check on or which specific file. CHKDSK /f would fix errors found on the disk during the process while CHKDSK /v would display the entire path and filename of every file found.

Earlier Windows' Usage of CHKDSK

In earlier versions of Windows, beginning with Windows 3.0 and carrying through Windows 95, 98, 98SE, and ME (Millennium Edition), CHKDSK could be run from the DOS (Command) prompt. All of the legacy options (arguments) listed above in the DOS section were supported. However, it was advised that the safest procedure to run CHKDSK was to reboot the computer, press the function key F5 and choose to boot to DOS Prompt. CHKDSK should never be run from inside Windows.

Windows 2000 and XP

In Windows 2000 and XP running the disk checking program is accessed by opening up My Computer, highlighting the drive you wish to check, right-clicking the mouse while holding the mouse cursor over the drive you chose, select Properties, now click on the tab named "Tools" and choose "Check Now." CHKDSK can still be run from the prompt in both Windows 2000 and XP but should only be done from a clean boot to prompt and preferably using the CHKNTFS command.

Microsoft Vista

Under a specific set of circumstances, CHKDSK may be used with Microsoft Vista. In a situation where your hard disk has become corrupt and Autocheck fails, Microsoft advises that you should "download the Automated Installation Kit (AIK) for Windows Vista" and then create a Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) 2.1 disc. For more on this subject, see the link in Resources.

CHKDSK Recovered Data

Unfortunately, when CHKDSK finds an error it creates a series of files that are named FOUND.000 followed by FOUND.001 with the filename extension increasing sequentially. If you encounter this situation, in all but the rarest instances, your data cannot be recovered without going to extraordinary lengths, certainly beyond the scope of most end users.


Closely related to CHKDSK is the Microsoft program Autochk (XP), which will automatically check your hard disk at startup. This can be caused by a variety of reasons, with the worst being an impending hard disk failure. In some cases, this program will run every time the system is started and can be quite time-consuming.

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