SFC Scannow Windows File Recovery

Martin Brinkmann
May 18, 2010
Updated • Sep 4, 2019

Core system files of the Windows operating system can be manipulated like any other file on a computer hard drive. While it may be necessary to take ownership first, it is not really too complicated of a process.

Manipulation can either be intended or unintended. An admin who patches system files responsible for theme installations on the operating system does so intentionally for instance, while a computer virus' or trojan's modification of system files is not intended by the user of the system.

Both file manipulations can have a severe impact on system stability. There are other issues that may affect system files; a failing hard drive or crash might have corrupted some files.

SFC /Scannow

The sfc /scannow command recovers Windows system files so that manipulated files, those that are not identical to the original version, are replaced by the verified version during the process if possible.

SFC, which stands for System File Checker, scans all protected Windows operating system files and attempts to replace corrupted, damaged, missing and changed file versions with authorized versions.

The sfc /scannow command needs to be run from an elevated command line prompt. Here is how this is done:

  1. Click on the Start Menu orb, then all programs and locate the Command Prompt entry in the Accessories directory (in Windows 7, other operating systems vary). Right-click the command prompt and select to Run as Administrator from the context menu.
  2. If you are using Windows 8 or 10, tap on Start to open the Start Menu, type cmd.exe, right-click on the result of the same name and select the Run as administrator option from the context menu.

The window title should begin with Administrator which confirms that you launched an elevated command prompt window.

If SFC does not work properly for whatever reason, download and run SFCFix to correct the issue.

Type sfc /scannow to run the file verification scan. Windows will check all system files to make sure they are in their original state. Any file that is not will be replaced by the original copy during the procedure if possible.

The scan will take some time and the verification progress is displayed in the command line window.

The system file check may require access to Windows media files from the original installation source to replace or copy the original files. Make sure you have Windows installation media at hand before you run the check.

You may run sfc /verifyonly to check files for corruption or issues but don't do anything about it. Verifyonly is ideal if you want to find out if issues exist before you decide on what to do about it.

Here is a list of all scan parameters that you can make use of:

  • /SCANNOW        Scans integrity of all protected system files and repairs files with problems when possible.
  • /VERIFYONLY     Scans integrity of all protected system files. No repair operation is performed.
  • /SCANFILE       Scans integrity of the referenced file, repairs file if problems are identified. Specify full path <file>
  • /VERIFYFILE     Verifies the integrity of the file with full path <file>.  No repair operation is performed.
  • /OFFBOOTDIR     For offline repair specify the location of the offline boot directory
  • /OFFWINDIR      For offline repair specify the location of the offline windows directory

Tip: You may run sfc /scannow on external drives as well.

SFC Scannow Windows File Recovery
Article Name
SFC Scannow Windows File Recovery
The sfc /scannow command recovers Windows system files so that manipulated files, those that are not identical to a validated version, are replaced by that verified version during the process if possible.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):


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