How-to: Troubleshoot Windows 7 with System File Checker

Windows 7 logoIf Windows 7 develops a problem it can often be fixed by running a Windows Utility you probably never heard of: System File Checker. This venerable command line utility has been around since Windows 98 and every version since. You can run this if you get control panel, settings or Windows utilities errors.

“If a Windows Resource Protection (WRP) file is missing or is corrupted, Windows may not behave as expected. For example, some Windows functions may not work, or Windows may crash. The System File Checker tool (SFC.exe) scans for missing or corrupted system files and repairs them.”

This is a quick run-through using System File Checker tool (SFC.exe) to troubleshoot missing or corrupted system files on Windows Vista or on Windows 7…

The sfc /scannow command scans the integrity of protected Windows 7 system files and replaces incorrect, corrupted, changed, or damaged versions with the correct versions if possible.

  1. Go to “Command Prompt” in “Start Menu – Accessories”. Right-click to select the “Run as Administrator” option, as it needs to run with administrator privileges.
  2. Click through the User Acess Control Screen.
  3. At the Command Prompt Type: sfc /scannow and press “Enter”

The scan can take a while. In order to fix corrupted files it might ask for your Windows Installation Disk to re-install the originals of corrupted files.

Should you get a message saying it can’t fix some files, you can find out which from the log-file C:\WINDOWS\LOGS\CBS\CBS.LOG. In order to find the SFC entries in this monster log, open an Administrator-level Command prompt and enter:

findstr /c:”[SR]” %windir%\logs\cbs\cbs.log >%userprofile%\Desktop\sfc_results.txt

This extracts the SFC scan results to the sfc_results.txt file on your desktop. It contains the date and time entries to determine the problem files that were found the last time that you ran the System File Checker tool.

You will find entries like the following for broken files:
2011-01-12 12:10:42, Info CSI 00000008 [SR] Cannot
repair member file [l:34{17}]”Accessibility.dll” of Accessibility, Version =
6.0.6000.16386, pA = PROCESSOR_ARCHITECTURE_MSIL (8), Culture neutral,
VersionScope neutral, PublicKeyToken = {l:8 b:b03f5f7f11d50a3a}, Type
neutral, TypeName neutral, PublicKey neutral in the store, file is missing

Where SFC is able to repair broken files, a reboot is required to re-enable them, as hinted by the log entry:
“2009-08-09 13:16:27, Info CSI 000002db [SR] Unable to complete Verify and Repair transaction because some of the files that need to be repaired are in use. A reboot is required to complete this operation”.

Thanks go to Alex Zhao on the MS Technet forums  for the pointer:

How to use the System File Checker tool to troubleshoot missing or corrupted system files on Windows Vista or on Windows 7  AJS

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