Corrupt system files and how to fix them in Windows

Sometimes your computer shuts off without warning, probably due to a power outage or a faulty power supply. You’ve managed to fix the issue or wait until the power returns and boot it up again. Maybe it happens numerous times without warning of course. Your computer freezes, forcing you to hit the power up to turn it off and back on again. Over time, these actions lead to the corrupt system files in your Windows computer, primarily located under “C:\Windows”.

Side effects of corrupt system files

At times, you will find signs of your system files becoming corrupted. Software may not load correctly, resulting in a crash of your operating system. Your computer might start running slow, or at times slows down to a crawl and then return back to normal. Windows Update might fail to run or complete, therefore leaving your system vulnerable to any crucial updates.

In some cases, depending on the severity of the issues caused by having corrupt system files, you may end up having the do a complete reinstall through a rescue disk or USB flash drive containing the OS installer. Though there is a way to repair these files before even considering the former.

System File Checker

Windows contains a utility called System File Checker(SFC). This program will scan all system files for any errors and attempt to correct them. Before we get into that, lets take a look at another program that can do this with a much improved success rate: Deployment Image Servicing and Management(DISM). DISM allows for a system administrator to manage and fix Windows installations before deployment to other systems. For this we are going to right-click the Start Menu->Search and type “cmd” into the search bar. Right click on “Command Prompt” and click on “Run as administrator”.

Once at the Command Prompt, type in the following:

DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth

DISM will now start the process of downloading the necessary replacement system files from Windows Update server. Depending on the speed of your internet connection, this may take awhile. If DISM fails to retrieve the necessary files, check Windows Update to make sure it’s working. Upon completion, you should receive a message saying that the operation has been completed.

To make sure our system files have been repaired, run SFC by typing:

sfc /scannow

SFC will now begin running a system scan by verification. Upon success, you should receive the following message:

“Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations.”

If you got a different error, and the DISM program didn’t work as well then your only option is to run a complete reinstall of Windows. Stayed tuned for the follow-up guide.