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How to Scan and Repair Corrupted System Files in Windows 11

Over time, any Windows 11 computer will experience system corruption and eventual failure. Regular maintenance will restore system files and prevent future problems.

Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

An inescapable truth of using computer technology is that it will eventually, and probably inexplicably, fail you one way or another. Whether it’s unexplained failures, untimely errors, frustrating delays, or outright startup failures, IT professionals or the users themselves will inevitably have to troubleshoot and perform maintenance on their Windows 11 systems.

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Oftentimes, damaged Windows system files are the culprit for a significant number of frustrating computer problems. The system files control almost every aspect of your computer at the most fundamental level. Scanning and repairing system files in Windows 11 is a two-step process that involves two old, but reliable command prompt tools: System File Checker and Deployment Image Servicing and Management.

How to Scan and Repair Corrupted System Files in Windows 11

System File Checker and DISM have been part of the toolkit of IT professionals for decades, but they are still extremely useful. The following procedure also works with Windows 10.

This is a two-step procedure. we will use DISM to update the backup of Windows 11 system files stored on our system storage device, then use System File Checker to update the system files currently used by Windows 11.

As a security measure, the backup system files are stored separately from the system files that Windows 11 uses on a daily basis. However, those backup system files can also be corrupted. With DISM, we update to the latest Windows 11 system files directly from Microsoft servers.

To get started, we need to open an administrative-level command prompt. Type “command prompt” into the Windows 11 desktop search program, right-click the Command Prompt app and select the Run as administrator option from the context menu.

At the prompt, as shown in Image Atype this command and press Enter:

DISM.exe /Online /Cleaning-image /Restorehealth

Image A

Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

The retrieval process may take several minutes depending on your internet connection and bandwidth speeds. The app keeps track of the progress and then displays a message about the successful completion.

Now that we have updated and possibly repaired our backup Windows 11 system files, we can scan for errors and apply fixes using the System File Checker. Type this command at the prompt and press Enter as shown in Figure B: sfc /scannow.

Figure B

Image: Mark Kaelin/TechRepublic

Again, the verification process may take a few minutes, but the application will let you know when it’s completed.

As you can see in our example, several corrupt files were found and repaired even on a Windows 11 PC that did not crash or show other signs of poor performance or unreliability. Another indication of the importance of regular and routine system maintenance.

Once the procedure is complete, exit the Command Prompt screen. Your Windows 11 system files are now fully scanned and repaired with the most up-to-date versions.

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