The SFC (System File Checker) is a command-line utility in Windows that scans for corruption in Windows system files and restores corrupted files. It is an essential tool for troubleshooting and resolving issues related to system files that are crucial for the operating system’s proper functioning. SFC is most effective when used to repair system stability and integrity issues, often after system updates, malicious attacks, or system file corruption.


The basic syntax for the SFC command is as follows:

SFC [option]


  • /SCANNOW: Scans integrity of all protected system files and repairs files with problems when possible.
  • /VERIFYONLY: Scans integrity of all protected system files without making any repairs.
  • /SCANFILE=<file>: Scans the integrity of the specified file and repairs the file if issues are found.
  • /VERIFYFILE=<file>: Scans the integrity of the specified file without making any repairs.
  • /OFFBOOTDIR=<dir>: Use this option when you want to specify the location of the offline boot directory.
  • /OFFWINDIR=<dir>: Use this option when you want to specify the location of the offline Windows directory.
  • /OFFLOGFILE=<file>: Specifies the path to save the log file when using the tool offline.


Example 1: Standard System Scan and Repair

To scan and automatically repair issues in system files:


Example 2: Verify System Integrity Without Repair

To only verify the integrity of system files without repairing them:


Example 3: Specific File Scan and Repair

To scan and repair a specific system file:

SFC /SCANFILE=c:\windows\system32\kernel32.dll

Example 4: Use in an Offline Environment

To run SFC in an offline environment, specifying the boot and Windows directories:

SFC /SCANNOW /OFFBOOTDIR=c:\offboot /OFFWINDIR=c:\offwindows

Common Issues

  • Permission Errors: Running SFC might require administrator privileges. Ensure you run Command Prompt as administrator.
  • Resource Locking: Sometimes, SFC cannot repair files because they are in use. In such cases, running SFC in Safe Mode or using the Recovery Console might help.
  • Misidentification of System Files: Customized or tweaked system files might be perceived as corrupted by SFC, which might lead to unwanted changes.


SFC can be integrated with other commands for more comprehensive system maintenance:

Example: Scheduled System Scans
Run SFC alongside other maintenance tasks using a batch file:

@echo off
DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
echo System scan and repair tasks completed.

Schedule this script using Task Scheduler to maintain system integrity periodically.

  • CHKDSK: Checks the file system and file system metadata of a volume for logical and physical errors.
  • DISM: Deploys images and manages payloads, including Windows system recovery, enabling advanced features, and repairing corruption.
  • Task Scheduler: Automates the launching of tasks based on criteria you set.

Further reading and resources on SFC can be found through the Microsoft official documentation: Microsoft Docs – SFC