Chkdsk Won't Run on Restart on Microsoft Vista

Chkdsk is a repair and diagnostic tool on Windows computers.  There are two reasons a user would run Chkdsk: 1) to fix a problem such as corrupted files or bad disk sectors or 2) as a part of regularly scheduled diagnostics to forestall such problems.  (See this excellent tutorial for additional background on Chkdsk and how to run it both from the GUI and the command prompt.)

Chkdsk cannot repair problems if files on a disk are locked or being used, so it usually runs on reboot before the operating system loads.  Unfortunately, on Windows Vista Chkdsk sometimes won't run during reboot whether the user initiated it via the GUI or the command prompt, even if the command prompt was run as "elevated" (i.e.,  with administrator privileges).  If this happens, the user will have to run Chkdsk from the Windows Vista installation CD via the following steps:
  1. Boot to the Windows Vista installation CD.  Your computer may prompt you to hit a key to boot from CD or DVD.  If your computer doesn't boot to CD or DVD, you might have to manually select the boot device by hitting an function key such as F2 or change the boot device order.  (Booting options vary by manufacturer so consult your owner's manual on how to select boot options at startup or to change the device boot order of your machine.)
  2. Select your language when prompted.

  3. Click on "Repair your computer."

  4. Select your operating system: Microsoft Windows Vista.

  5. System Recovery Options opens; click "Command Prompt."

  6. Once the command prompt opens, type chkdsk c: /r and hit enter to repair any file system errors. You may have to type a drive letter other than C: if  you installed Vista on a different drive.
  7. Chkdsk will run and could take quite a long time to do so, so running overnight is a good option.
  8. After Chkdsk has run, a report will display.   To leave the command prompt and the System Recovery tool, type exit and hit enter.
  9. Your computer will reboot, so if it boots from CD/DVD, remove the media from the optical drive so that the CD/DVD doesn't relaunch.
 For a detailed tutorial on System Recovery Options in Vista, please see this Microsoft article.

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