How to Use System File Checker?

Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10 were all developed with the ability to be able to protect themselves against system instability brought about by thi...

Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10 were all developed with the ability to be able to protect themselves against system instability brought about by third party applications editing, deleting and corrupting important system files.

System instability was always a major issue with the older operating systems (Windows 95/98). However, when Microsoft released Windows Millennium, they made a consorted effort to rectify this nagging problem.

With this new approach to Windows protection, the most important files are able to remain intact from tampering.

Windows File Protection:

Windows File Protection is a Windows feature that is enabled by default, allowing the replacement of digitally signed files with existing files. These digitally signed files are distributed through a number of different services, such as the following:
  • Windows Update
  • Windows Service Pack(s)
  • Hotfix Updates
  • Security Updates
If there is an attempt to replace an important system file, Windows File Protection will immediately block access to the file in question.

One aspect of Windows File Protection that can be said to be very important, is the command prompt utility System File Checker (sfc.exe).

Windows File Protection

Windows 10, unlike the other versions of Windows comes with its own command prompt utility called Windows Resource Protection, this tool, is identical to System File Checker in every way but name.

You’ve probably heard of this tool before, as many people recommend its usage for repairing a whole plethora of problems on our computer systems.

Using System File Checker:

The main purpose of this utility is to replace deleted, corrupted or infected Windows system files.

Perhaps, while using your computer, you’re greeted with an error message dialog box, stating that it’s having a problem with a specific .dll file, or an application you regularly use, refuses to load. This is when system file checker comes in most handy, as it’s able to check for corruption within your system files.

You can run this powerful tool, by simply doing the following:
  1. First, you must boot into your computer with a user profile that has administrative rights.
  2. Click on Start -> Type cmd (into the Search programs and files box) and Press CTRL + Shift + Enter, then click on Yes [In Windows 8/10: right click on the Start button and click on Command Prompt (Admin)]

  3. This will open Command Prompt, from here, type sfc.exe /scannow and press Enter.

This will load up the Windows File Protection service which will immediately proceed to scan all of your protected system files and verify their integrity, then replace any files that it finds to have any problems with it.

It’s also possible for you to scan or verify a particular file that you’re having problems with, by typing the following:

sfc /scanfile=c:\windows\system32\kernel32.dll

Note: Where kernel32.dll is the file you’re telling the system to verify.

In most cases that is all that one needs to fix any problems caused by corruption or the deletion of an important system file. However there are those instances when something goes wrongs.

An issue that many people are known to complain about, is the System File Checker tool, asking them to put their original Windows CD into their Disc Drive.

Why Does It Ask This?

Well, your operating systems registry has a number of settings in it that are checked during the scanning phase of the System File Checker.

As previously mentioned, the Windows File Protection service is constantly monitoring the operating system for any changes made to the protected system files. A cache or copy of these protected files is stored in a secure location at:

C:\Windows\System32\Dllcache

Note: The Dllcache folder is one of the most important Windows folders, because of this; Windows hides this folder by default however it is possible to unhide such files, by changing your Folder Options.


If the tool finds that there is a corrupted and/or missing file on your computer, it will usually copy over the file from this particular folder.

((More Source: Microsoft Buys LinkedIn for $26.2 Billion ))


However, if the Dllcache folder has been compromised, either through a virus or data corruption, then the Windows File Protection services will ask you to put your Windows CD into your Disc Drive, so that it can get a clean copy of the file.

That said, depending on the version and installation method of your operating system, you may only have around 60MB of the protected files saved in the Dllcache folder, in which case, the reason why it is prompting you for the OS CD may have absolutely nothing to do with corruption or viruses.

AUTHOR BIO:

Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website; find solutions to a plethora of computer problems on his site at Compuchenna.

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