How to repair corrupted files in Windows 10

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Windows & Software Expert
Milan has been enthusiastic about PCs ever since his childhood days, and this led him to take interest in all PC-related technologies. Before joining WindowsReport, he worked as a front-end web developer. Read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • Corrupted files in Windows 10 may bring the system to a halt so it's imperative to repair them as soon as possible.
  • The Windows 10 built-in tools provide you with all the capabilities you need to resolve this problem.
  • If the tools are not capable of resolving the issue, then it is recommended that you and run the same commands in Safe Mode or even before Windows starts.
  • You can attempt a Windows 10 repair by replacing the files manually using the steps we described below.
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Many computer problems are caused by corrupted or damaged system files, and the Windows 10 installation process is not an exception.

Fortunately, there are few ways to fix corrupted system files on your system, and today we’re going to show you how to repair Windows 10 with ease, and how to prevent these types of problems from occurring again.

What are corrupted system files and how do they occur?

A system file is a file that plays an important role in the operating system and when it gets damaged and cannot complete its function, it can be called corrupt.

All the programs can end up having corrupted files but when these files are part of the operating system, things can get a little bit more complicated.

There are a lot of possible reasons for which your Windows files or system files can become corrupted, but here are the most common ones:

Power outages – These can happen randomly and without any telltale sign, and they can cause a lot of problems with your hard disk. If the part of the storage that contains your system installation is affected, the files that allow your OS to run normally may become corrupt

Viruses and malware – Even though not as common as you might think, viruses and malware will sometimes cause system files to get corrupted. This occurrence is not very common as the main goal of a virus or malware is to gather important data, so crashing your system would not meet their end-goal

System crashes – System crashes may occur because of hardware or software problems and in turn, they may produce the corruption of system files

Update errors – Update errors are pretty common and they often create problems with the system files and BSOD errors, which can lead to system file corruption

Hardware problems – When the hard drive starts having problems reading and writing data, bad sectors and corrupt files can start occurring

Of course, to avoid system corruption, you should keep your system updated and maintain your hard drive as clean as possible. But if you still run into trouble, our solutions below will definitely help you.

How can I fix corrupted files in Windows 10?

  1. Use the SFC tool
  2. Use the DISM tool
  3. Run a SFC scan from Safe Mode
  4. Perform a SFC scan before Windows 10 starts
  5. Replace the files manually
  6. Use System Restore
  7. Reset your Windows 10

1. Use the SFC tool

1.1 Run System File Checker

  1. Type cmd in the Search box and click on Run as Administrator to open an elevated Command Prompt window.
  2. Open When Command Prompt opens, enter the following command and press Enter: sfc /scannow
  3. Don’t close Command Prompt or interrupt the repair process. It can take a while, so wait patiently while it completes.

After the repair process is finished, if your system files are not corrupted, you’ll see the message Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations.

However, the System File Checker tool can’t always fix corrupted files, so keep that in mind.

1.2 Check the SFC log

  1. Enter cmd in the Windows search bar and click on Run as administrator to open Command Prompt with full rights.
  2. Enter the following command and press Enter (By doing this, you’ll create a sfclogs.txt file on your Desktop): findstr /c:"[SR]" %windir%\logs\cbs\cbs.log >sfcdetails.txt
  3. Open the sfcdetails.txt and check the results of SFC scan.

Keep in mind that this log file contains only information related to the SFC scan that is performed in Windows.

2. Use the DISM tool

  1. Press the Windows key + X and click on Windows PowerShell (Admin) or Command Prompt (Admin) to open the app with full privileges.
  2. Enter the following command and press Enter: DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
  3. The repair process can take 10 minutes or more, so be patient and don’t interrupt it.
  4. After DISM tool repairs your files, restart your PC.

DISM stands for Deployment Image & Servicing Management tool, and it’s used to fix any corruption problems that can prevent the SFC tool from running optimally.

3. Run a SFC scan from Safe Mode

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Hover your mouse over the Power button to unravel the option.
  3. Hold the Shift key and choose the Restart option.
  4. You’ll see three options available. Select Troubleshoot.
  5. Navigate to Advanced options, then select Startup Settings and click the Restart button.driver disconnected while associating
  6. When your PC restarts, you’ll see a list of options. Select any version of Safe Mode by pressing the appropriate F key.

When Safe Mode starts, repeat the steps from Solution 1 to perform a SFC scan.

Sometimes, a SFC scan can’t repair your files by running Windows normally, but if that happens, you can try running the SFC tool in Safe Mode.

Safe Mode is a special mode that uses only default drivers and applications and by using it, you’ll eliminate any possible interference from third-party apps.

4. Perform a SFC scan before Windows 10 starts

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Select the Power button, press the Shift key and select the Restart option.
  3. When the list of options appears, select Troubleshoot.
  4. Choose Advanced options and select Command Prompt.registry error advanced options
  5. When your PC restarts, you might be asked to enter your username and password, so be sure to do that.
  6. Find the letter of your Windows 10 drive. To do that, enter the following command and press Enter: wmic logicaldisk get deviceid, volumename, description
  7. Pay attention to Volume Name. In most cases Windows Volume Name will be assigned to the letter D. This is perfectly normal if you start Command Prompt before starting Windows, so no need to worry about it.
  8. Also check System Reserved drive. In most cases, it should be C.
  9. Enter the following command and press Enter (Be sure to use the letters that you got from the previous steps): sfc /scannow /offbootdir=C:\ /offwindir=D:\Windows
  10. Wait while your system files are scanned.
  11. After the scan is completed, close Command Prompt and start Windows 10 normally.

Sometimes you need to scan and repair protected system files, but you can’t do that by running Windows 10 normally.

To scan protected system files you’ll have to run a SFC scan before Windows 10 starts as shown above in this solution.

5. Replace the files manually

  1. Press the Windows key + X combination and select Windows PowerShell (Admin) or Command Prompt (Admin), depending on your system’s settings.
  2. Paste or type the following command and press Enter: takeown /f C:\corrupted-file-location-and-file-name
    • Remember to replace corrupted-file-location-and-file-name with the actual location of the corrupted file. You need to include both the file name and extension and not just the location of the directory (By running the takeown command you’ll have ownership over the corrupted file).
  3. Include the following command to gain full administrator privileges over the file and press Enter: icacls C:\corrupted-file-location-and-file-name /Grant Administrators:F
    • Once again, replace the corrupted-file-location-and-file-name with the actual location of the file.
  4. Now you need to replace the problematic file with the healthy file that you copied from a different PC.
  5. Paste the following command and press Enter: copy C:\location-of-healthy-file C:\corrupted-file-location-and-file-name
  6. Enter Yes if you’re asked if you want to overwrite the file.
  7. Repeat these steps for all corrupted files.
  8. After all corrupted files are replaced, run the following command to verify if the problem with corrupted files is fixed: SFC /verifyonly
Note icon
This is one of the more advanced solutions, so be sure to follow it exactly. We also advise you to be extra cautious while performing the steps, as getting them wrong could cause system instability.

First, you need to open your SFC log and check which corrupted files can’t be repaired. We already explained how to view the SFC log file in Solution 1, so be sure to check it out for instructions.

After you find the corrupted file, you need to transfer a healthy version of that file from another PC to your PC. Keep in mind that both PCs have to use the same version of Windows 10.

6. Use the System Restore feature

  1. Press Windows Key + S, type create a restore point, and select the option from the results.
  2. Click on the System Restore button.
  3. You will be recommended the latest restore point, but you can click on Choose a different restore point and hit the next button to select a previously created one.
  4. Check Show more restore points. Select the available restore point and click Next.
  5. Follow the instructions on the screen to perform the restoration.

After your PC is restored, system files should be restored to the previous healthy version.

Run a System Scan to discover potential errors

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Run a PC Scan with Restoro Repair Tool to find errors causing security problems and slowdowns. After the scan is complete, the repair process will replace damaged files with fresh Windows files and components.

System Restore is a useful feature that will restore your system to an earlier state. If you are unable to fix corrupted files, you might want to consider performing System Restore.

If all these steps seem a bit too complicated for you, you could also use an automated tool in order to perform the same actions without any worries. For this, you can try the versatile Restoro, which can replace and refresh any corrupted system files automatically.

7. Reset your OS

  1. Click the Start button and open the Start Menu.
  2. Then, select the Power button, keep the Shift button pressed and select the Restart option.
  3. Choose Troubleshoot and select Reset this PC.
  4. You have two options available:
    • Keep my files will reinstall Windows 10, but it will keep your personal files and settings.
    • Remove everything will remove both personal files and settings (Keep in mind that third-party applications and downloaded files will be removed by performing the reset).
  5. If asked whether you want to clean the drive, choose the Just remove my files option.
  6. Choose your username and enter its password (If you’re asked to insert Windows 10 installation media, be sure to do so).
  7. Select your version of Windows and click the Reset button to start.
  8. Follow the instructions on the screen to complete the process.

If everything else fails, you might have to reset your Windows 10. This process will remove your installed apps and files, so be sure to back up important files.

You might need a Windows 10 installation media to perform this process, so be sure to create one using a bootable USB flash drive.

If the reset process didn’t fix the problem, repeat it, but choose the second option, Remove everything.

Then select the Only the drive where Windows is installed option and finally select the Just remove my files option.

If that doesn’t fix the problem, perform a clean install of Windows 10 by using our comprehensive guide.

How to prevent the corruption of the system files

We’ve already explained why this problem occurs and how can you fix it but if you’re not careful, it can happen again.

Of course, not all the issues can be avoided but we can supply a couple of tips that will help you prevent at least some of them.

Protect your PC with an antivirus

Viruses and malware are some of the main causes of system corruption, so it’s reasonable to start thinking about protecting your PC with an antivirus.

Windows Defender, the built-in antivirus can do a great job but if you like to live more dangerous and visit untrusted websites, you can also pick one of the best antiviruses for Windows 10 from our list to make things safer.

We are using the powerful Eset Smart Security Premium to protect our PCs, which offers great scanning options.

Eset Smart Security Premium running on our system

The possibility to pause its protection for a specified amount of time is extremely useful, and the fact that it contains a Gaming mode ensures that you won’t be bothered while gaming.

Maintain your hard-drive

HDDs are more vulnerable than SSDs when it comes to physical damage and their resilience over time.

After a while, an HDD can develop bad sectors simply from normal usage and if you add power surges, power outages, or drops, you can get serious problems.

You can prevent power-related issues by getting an uninterruptable power supply, a device that acts as a buffer between your PC and the outlet and mitigates any such issues.

But you can also maintain your hard drive in good conditions by defragmenting it and checking for errors by using the system tools.

Here is how you can easily perform defragmentation of your HDD in Windows 10:

  1. Click on the Search button on your taskbar, and type defrag.
  2. Select Defragment and Optimize Drives.
  3. Choose the drive you want to optimize.
  4. Click Optimize to initiate the process.
  5. As soon as the process is finished, you will see that the Current status section has changed.

Other useful tips

  • Shut down and restart your computer properly by using the standard methods and not the physical power button
  • Always ensure that you meet the requirements when updating your system and installing software
  • Remove external drives safely; use the option from the system tray or from File Explorer, don’t just remove the drive from the port
  • Avoid interrupting any system process when you are performing a SFC, DISM, CHKDSK or any other system scan
  • Don’t delete any system files without knowing exactly what you’re doing

We hope that our guide helped you repair corrupted files in Windows 10 and that your PC is now in perfect working order.

Fixing corrupted system files is sometimes difficult, and if you can’t repair the files with the SFC tool, you’ll need to use the DISM tool instead. If issues persist, you’ll have to reset your PC or perform a clean install.

You should also try a third-party tool. We’ve got an excellent list including the best repair tools that will fix corrupted files in Windows 10.

If you have any other suggestions or questions, you can write them in a comment by using the dedicated section below.

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