Using the System File Checker to Repair Windows 7

System File Checker sounds like a helpful resource for Windows 7 … too bad that Service Pack 1 effectively disables it.

The other day Martin wrote that Microsoft have made available direct downloads for versions of Windows 7 that contain Service Pack 1 integrated into the ISO file.  These downloads are more important than you might think, as installing service pack 1 on your Windows 7 effectively breaks one of the most useful and important troubleshooting features of the operating system, the System File Checker.

The system file checker is a small command line utility that checks all of the files that make up Windows 7 and compares them to the original on the installation DVD.  If it finds any that have become corrupt, it will copy of original file back from the disc, overwriting the corrupt file.

The problem here is that when you install a service pack, many of the files on the operating system’s kernel, it’s root files, are changed.  This means that when the system file checker goes to compare the new post-service pack files with the ones on your installation DVD, they won’t match and the utility won’t be able to restore any that are corrupt.

The answer is to have the service pack integrated into your Windows 7 installation DVD, and this where these new downloads come in.  There are ways to ‘slipstream’ service packs into your installation DVD, but they can be complex and difficult to perform.  It’s much better, if you can get one, to have an installation disc handy that already has the latest service pack integrated.

So how do you use the System File Checker?  It’s run from the command line in Windows 7 (and this indeed applies equally to Windows XP and Windows Vista).

  1. Type CMD into the search box in the Start Menu
  2. When Command Prompt appears in the search results, Right click on it and select Run as Administrator
  3. With your Windows installation disc in your optical drive, in the command window type SFC /SCANNOW and press Enter

The System File Checker will now check all the files that make up your copy of Windows and repair any it finds are corrupt.

© Mike Halsey (MVP) for gHacks Technology News | Latest Tech News, Software And Tutorials, 2011. | Permalink |
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