Full Fix: The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable

by Milan Stanojevic
Milan Stanojevic
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... read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • In trying to access data on their Windows 10 PCs, many users found the file or directory is corrupted and unreadable.
  • Use the chkdsk tool to scan the specific hard drive partition and fix corrupted files or folders.
  • You can also continue to reconnect your external storage device to fix any problems with it.
  • Consider using a trusted repair software found below to restore your files.
Fix corrupted and unreadable file on Windows 10

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We store all sorts of files and folders on our PCs, but sometimes certain files and directories can become corrupted and unreadable.

Surely you’ve encountered the problem of corrupted and unreadable files or directories at some point, and nothing is more frustrating than not being able to access them, especially if you’re in serious need.

But there are some useful tips to keep in mind when you run into this unpleasant situation, so don’t lose hope.

This can be a big problem for users, but there’s a way to fix a corrupted and unreadable file or directory on Windows 10. Before we dig in, let’s see some specific situations and examples where you might encounter this issue.

The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable – where and why does this happen?

  • SD cards
  • Windows 11 (but most Windows versions can fall victim to this error)
  • Microsoft Edge (frequently targeted by this glitch, but it can be seen on other browsers as well)
  • Steam, Origin, League of Legends (The issue is highly likely ot appear in connection to gaming platforms or apps)
  • NVidia/Krnl
  • Visual Studio (In this case, you can further encounter connected issues such as the Microsoft Visual C++ runtime library error)

That is pretty much all on the where. Now, it’s time to tackle the why.

What is a corrupt and unreadable file or directory?

All programs may have a file that is damaged and can no longer fulfill its function. Thus, this type of file is called corrupt.

This problem can occur for a number of reasons, including recurring ones:

System crashes – These can be caused by hardware or software problems, and their occurrence can lead to file corruption.

➡ Update errors – The frequency of update errors is a fairly common thing among users and they can lead not only to corrupt files but also to BSoD errors.

➡ Power outages – Unfortunately these problems can cause a lot of issues to your OS especially as they happen without warning signs.

Corrupted directories can be a problem since they won’t allow you to access your files. Speaking of corrupted directories, users reported the following issues:

  • The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable folder – According to users, sometimes they might encounter this message while trying to access certain directories. If you have issues reading files or folders, be sure to try some of our solutions.
  • Repair corrupt folder – Even if you have damaged folders on your PC, you might be able to repair them and recover your files. There are many third-party tools that can help you with that, so be sure to check them out.
  • The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable c drive, please run the chkdsk utility – In some cases, you’ll get an error message asking you to run chkdsk utility on your C drive. We explained in detail how to run chkdsk in this guide, so be sure to check it out.
  • Repair corrupted directory external hard drive – Sometimes files can get corrupted on external hard drives as well. In some cases, you might be able to recover your files with third-party tools, but usually the best option is to run chkdsk scan. If everything fails, you might have to format your drive.

How do I repair corrupted directory on a Windows 10 PC?

1. Use chkdsk tool

  1. Open Command Prompt as administrator. To do that, press the Windows Key + X, and select Command Prompt (Admin).
    Repair corrupted directory external hard drive
  2. Type the following command, press Enter, and be sure to replace X with the letter that matches your hard drive partition: chkdsk /f X:The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable c drive, please run the chkdsk utility
  3. Wait while chkdsk scans your hard drive partition.

According to users, one way to fix problems with corrupted directory is to use chkdsk tool. Chkdsk is a command line tool that scans the specific hard drive partition and fixes corrupted files or folders.

After the scan completes, the issue should be completely resolved.

We have to mention that few users reported that chkdsk command deleted files from their partition without warning, so be sure to back up any important files just in case.

2. Keep reconnecting your external storage device

Using an external storage device is a great way to free some space on your hard drive and keep your important files backed up.

Unfortunately, users reported that this issue occurs on their external storage device, and according to users, one of the simplest ways to fix this problem is to keep reconnecting your external hard drive.

After you reconnect your drive couple of times, Windows 10 will notify you that there’s an issue with the drive and ask you for permission to repair it.

The repair process should take about 30 seconds, and after the process is completed the issue should be resolved.

If you’re still having issues with corrupt directories on your PC, you might want to try using recovery software to restore your files.

We have to mention that these tools can give you varying results, depending on the amount of corruption.

If you’re looking for good file recovery software, we strongly recommend you the professional tool Stellar Data Recovery which recovers files from corrupted directories with ease.

3. Format your external storage device

  1. Make sure that external storage device is connected to your PC.
  2. Now press Windows Key + X and choose Disk Management from the menu.
    The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable folder
  3. When the Disk Management window opens, locate the Unallocated space section, right-click it and choose New Sample volume. Be sure to select the correct partition on your external hard drive in order to avoid file loss.
    The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable folder
  4. New Simple Volume Wizard will now open. Click Next.
    Repair corrupt folder
  5. Select the volume size, and click Next.
    The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable c drive, please run the chkdsk utility
  6. Select Assign the following drive letter option, and choose the desired letter.
    Repair corrupted directory external hard drive
  7. Now select the format options, and click Next.
    The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable folder
  8. Click the Finish button to complete the process.
    Repair corrupt folder

Users reported an error message regarding a corrupted directory while trying to access their external storage device.

One way to fix this problem is to partition and format the drive by following the above steps.

If the drive is already partitioned, you just have to format it from This PC. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Open This PC and locate your external storage device. Right-click it, and choose Format.
    The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable c drive, please run the chkdsk utility
  2. When the Format window opens, enter the Volume label, choose File system type, and click the Start button to start the formatting process.
    Repair corrupted directory external hard drive
  3. Wait until the drive is formatted.

After the drive is formatted, you’ll be able to access your external storage device without any problems. Keep in mind that formatting will delete all files from your external storage device.

4. Check the health of your hard drive

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Click here to download and start repairing.

Corrupted directories can be a sign of a damaged hard drive, and if you want to make sure that your hard drive is healthy and working properly, you should check its health.

If your hard drive is failing, you should consider replacing your hard drive and backing up your files.

There are many third-party applications that can help you with that, and if you need a tool that can clone your hard drive to a new one, you should consider using a professional one.

5. Try using Safe Mode

  1. Open the Start Menu, and click the Power button.
  2. Now press and hold the Shift key and click the Restart button.
  3. Select Troubleshoot, and then Advanced options.
  4. Choose Startup Settings from the menu, and click Restart to proceed.
  5. List of options will appear. Select any version of Safe Mode by pressing the corresponding key.

If you can’t open a certain directory on your PC because it’s damaged, you might want to try accessing this directory in Safe Mode.

In case you’re not familiar, Safe Mode is a special segment of Windows that runs with default applications and settings, so it’s perfect for troubleshooting.

Once you enter Safe Mode, try to access the problematic directory once again.

6. Create a new user profile

  1. Press Windows Key + I to open the Settings app.
  2. Navigate to the Accounts section.
    Repair corrupt folder
  3. Now select Family & other people from the menu on the left. In the right pane, select Add someone else to this PC.
    The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable c drive, please run the chkdsk utility
  4. Select I don’t have this person’s sign-in information.
    Repair corrupted directory external hard drive
  5. Now choose Add a user without a Microsoft account.
    The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable folder
  6. Enter the desired username, and click Next.
    Repair corrupt folder

If you’re having problems with corrupted directories, the issue might be related to your user profile. If your user profile is corrupted, you might not be able to access certain directories.

However, you can always circumvent this issue simply by creating a new user account. After doing that, just switch to a new account and check if the problem still persists.

If you can access all directories without issues, it means that a corrupted account was causing the problem.

Since there’s no way to repair a corrupted account, you’ll need to move your personal files to a new account and start using it as your main one.

How to prevent file or directory corruption

Repairing a corrupted directory on Windows 10 can be a hard process, but if you encounter a problem with a corrupted directory, be sure to try one of our solutions above.

But if you want to prevent this issue from occurring in the future, so that you don’t have to go through the same process every time, then there are some things to consider:

Protect your PC against cyber threats

Malware plays a defining role in the occurrence of file corruption problems, although their main purpose is to corrupt your entire operating system, not just one file.

Microsoft Defender is a reliable ally against malware and viruses that can attack your PC, but often even it is outpaced by hacker innovations.

That’s why, the life-saving solution seems to come unexpectedly, and you can choose one of the best Windows 10 antivirus software to use today.

Choose an antivirus solution that fits your needs and, and use it with utmost confidence to save your work, and protect your PC.

Check your hard-drive

IWhen it comes to resilience over time, HDDs are more vulnerable and require extra attention from users who want to maintain their PCs at optimal standards.

Bad sectors are common problems on your hard drive, which often lead to corrupted files or directories and can affect your entire system.

To ensure that you keep your HDD healthy, you should periodically perform a defragmentation or chkdsk command, which is within the reach of any simple user.

To perform HDD defragmentation in Windows 10 just follow the steps below:

  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

  • Make sure that you do not delete any file without first inquiring about its nature and whether it may affect the system.
  • Shut down and restart your PC using the standard environment provided by your PC, not just the physical power button.
  • Never interrupt system processes you are performing.

Sometimes when your PC is damaged, it becomes impossible to open certain files. That’s why a safe solution would be to try opening files or directories in Safe Mode or just create a new user profile.

Also, if you don’t know how to repair corrupted files in Windows 10, we provide you with the quickest solutions to get you out of a problem.

We hope our solutions above helped you fix the problem of corrupted or unreadable files or directories on your Windows 10 PC.

If you have any other suggestions or questions on this topic, feel free to access the comments section below.

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