I’d like to run a disk verification program to ensure that there’s nothing wrong with the file system on my Windows 10 laptop. Does Windows still include any tools for this task?
With the rise of solid state drives (SSD) it turns out that a lot of the problems and hiccups associated with physical drives and drive layout have gone away, or at least show up quite a bit less frequently than back in the old days. Of course, the really old days included hard drives with megabytes of storage that were the size of a washing machine, but that’s another story! Used to be that smart Windows users would also de-frag their drives with regularity too, a process that sounds a lot less military than it sounds. That too seems to have become less important too, muchly due to better file system designs that have been released.
Still it’s smart to occasionally check on the status of your drive because whether you’re paranoid like me and do hourly cloud backups or you’re just trusting in your system, things can go wrong and as Ben Franklin said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the digital age, that cure sometimes is “oh well, you lost that data”, so that’s even more dire!
Having said that, Windows doesn’t have the tools it used to so it’s a bit of jumping through hoops to find what you seek. Let’s start by simply going to File Manager and right-clicking on the hard drive in question:
NOTE: As with any disk maintenance effort, please start by quitting all your other programs and ensuring that nothing is writing to disk during this process. Online Web browsers are probably fine, but games, programs like MS Office, all those are a bit of an unnecessary risk that just complicate the job.
Now, off the context-menu shown above choose “Properties“. Then click on the “Tools” tab, as shown:
Ah, look, you can still defragment your drive! Let’s start there, because if you have SSD drives like me, it’s going to be a big fat dead end. Click on “Optimize“.
“Optimization not available” tells you that you’ve got an SSD and it’s unnecessary. That’s just how it is and it’s a good thing!
Back up instead and click on the “Check” button instead.
You can use the Scan drive link here, but let’s do something a bit more fun, let’s go into the administrative interface and use what a power Windows users would utilize instead. Just take your time and type carefully.
To start, do a Cortana / Win10 Start search for “cmd”:
You want the Command Prompt, but don’t just click the icon because you want to run it as an administrator so you can access the drive. To do that, click on the “Run as administrator” link on the right. Now you’ll have something that looks like a regular command prompt (so 1980’s, eh?) like this:
Now you’ll want to carefully type exactly what I have shown above:
Notice where I have a space (after sfc) and where I don’t (between ‘verify’ and ‘only’). Type in exactly what I’ve shown and you’ll be using the Windows administrator System File Checker (SFC) tool:
Have patience, this will take anywhere from 10-30 minutes to fully dig into your file system and verify everything, and at times it will look frozen. Mine “stuck” at 76% for a few minutes before proceeding. Finally, though, if you’re in good shape, you’ll end with this:
If you do have some problems, I recommend you back out of this window by closing Command Prompt then go back to Tools and let the Check / Analyze tool analyze what’s going on. If you’re an expert Windows user, SFC has additional repair steps it can take, but they can also mess up your drivers, etc, so you don’t want to use those without some level of expertise. Good luck!
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing about Windows since it was an amazing layer atop the command line and an optional setting. Please check out my extensive Windows help area for lots and lots of useful tutorials!