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CHKDSK is sometimes required to run at boot time, and its display messages disappear when complete. I'll show you where to find them again in Windows.

OK, so CHKDSK ran when my machine rebooted, and displayed some stuff. Problem is I have no idea what it displayed, since it then proceeded to reboot the machine when it was done. How do I get it to stop, pause or otherwise let me see what it did?

It's not obvious, I can tell you that.

For a recent article on CHKDSK, I actually carefully timed a few screen shots of CHKDSK running in a virtual machine so as to get the results.

Besides not being useful to the average user, it turns out that's overkill.

Way overkill.

CHKDSK on Boot

"Now, as I've also mentioned before the event log is a mess ..."

As I mention in What does "chkdsk cannot run because the volume is in use by another process" mean?, CHKDSK needs exclusive access to the disk that it's checking if it's been instructed to attempt fixes or repairs. If that disk is your Windows drive (C:), then CHKDSK can't, because Windows will be using that drive simply to run your system.

The solution is to indicate that CHKDSK should run automatically before Windows runs, the next time you reboot your machine.

Chkdsk progress as it runs at reboot

CHKDSK runs as it normally does, and when it completes it reboots the system.

Which of course causes any progress or results information that had been displayed on-screen to disappear.

While it's not the absolute best of news, there is good news nonetheless.

The Event Log

CHKDSK on boot up saves its results to the Event Log.

Now, as I've also mentioned before the event log is a mess. It's full of random and exceptionally geeky entries that barely have meaning to the people that put them there. (Yes, it's that obscure at times.)

That's not to say it's a waste, it's not - sometimes that obscure and geeky information can be incredibly valuable, as we're about to see.

It's just that most of the time it's so much noise.

Using Event Viewer to Find Chkdsk Results

After CHKDSK has run, and your machine has rebooted, run the event viewer: hold down the Windows key and press "R", type eventvwr into the resulting Run dialog, and click on OK.

Event Viewer in the Run Box

This will fire up the Event Viewer:

Windows Event Viewer

This is the Windows 7 Event Viewer; Windows Vista's is similar, while Windows XP's is actually much simpler. While the screen shots may be different the general idea will apply to all three.

Expand the "Windows Logs" on the left (by clicking on the triangle to its left), and click on "Application" below it:

Windows Event Viewer: selecting the application log

In the event log list that then appears to the right, click on the first item, and then one at a time down-arrow to see each successive event. You're viewing them in reverse-chronological order, most recent first. There will be many that are basically incomprehensible - don't worry about them.

Eventually you'll come to an event who's "Source" is Wininit (Windows Initialization), and whose information displayed in the window below will look very familiar (there may be many other events from Wininit, we're looking for the one that has CHKDSK information in the event information below the list):

Event Viewer, showing the Wininit line that has the CHKDSK information we seek

The text box within the "General" tab of that information below the event log listing is scroll-able, and contains the entire text of the CHKDSK run that happened at boot time:

Event Viewer showing CHKDSK results

You scan scroll up and down in that to view the entire CHKDSK session. If you like you can also select text using your mouse and then type CTRL+C to copy it to the clipboard. (There's surprisingly no right-click option to Copy.) The formatting can be a little odd, but the results you expect - the text that flew by as CHKDSK did its thing on boot, is all there for you to view at your leisure.

Article C4534 - November 7, 2010 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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12 Comments
Stephen Mann
November 9, 2010 10:05 AM

Take that your PC is running chkdsk on boot is an early warning. Your hard-disk is sick and will fail soon. Replace it before it dies completely.

Yes, there can be circumstances where a badly written program or even a virus can mess up your FAT that chkdsk scans for broken links, but the overwhelming experience with chkdsk is as I said, a forecast of failure.

Brad
November 9, 2010 10:55 AM

Re: Take that your PC is running chkdsk on boot..hard-disk is sick and will fail soon.

That is not correct.

The OS may have the 'dirty bit' set for any number of reasons..some of them having absolutely nothing to do with hardware, and that bit being set will get chkdsk run on boot every time. Certainly it cannot be concluded that a system that runs chkdsk on every boot is absolutely headed toward imminent hardware failure.

Plenty of information available on the web as to the 'dirty bit', including how to clear it.

Lisa
November 9, 2010 11:19 AM

It's not quite as good but much easier to open a command window and type...

CHKDSK > CHKDSK.TXT

Then when it's finished open the file in notepad.

There's a lot of "junk" in there because every time chkdsk writes to the screen there is a new line... but it saves rebooting and everything.

Lisa

That doesn't work for a drive in use where you can only run it at boot time, and at boot time don't have the opportunity to enter the command line you suggest.
Leo
10-Nov-2010

Ofisa Nyaikondo
November 9, 2010 4:14 PM

Easy to follow explanation and informative. CHKDSK is also used when/before hard drive encryption.

Bill Sydnes
November 9, 2010 5:53 PM

No matter what type of system I run check disk on it continually indicates that there is an error on multiple disks. I spent over two hours on the telephone with Microsoft and the support representative indicated that their machine did exactly the same thing.


Why does CHKDSK continually indicate that there are errors on the disk? And are they truly errors or is there a screwup in the Microsoft program?

I certainly don't experience what you're seeing, and I know most people don't. It'd depend on the specifics so I can't really speculate as to why it's happening in your case. You might make sure to close all running programs, in case an open file is confusing it.
Leo
10-Nov-2010

dave
November 10, 2010 5:54 AM

In past 12months I had series of run with CHKDSK. At the time I was running XPHomeEd.
A few times I had to re-install Windows. Things would run fine for a while and then CHKDSK would start all over again. Experienced this a few years earlier while running XPHomeEd had
similar episodes,but problem suddenly cured itself.Till recent events started again.I also run
XPPro. on other machines and there has never been any problems. So I formatted HD and a Clean installed XPRO on my guilty machine. This was a few weeks ago and so far there has no
further prompts about CHKDSK.
In my humble experience XP Home Ed. has a problem, going back multiple years. Ofcourse,
one must keep Firewall and Antivirus up-to-date
and not forgetting," Windows Updates."

James Mowrey
November 11, 2010 7:27 AM

I tried this, but I do not find any entry under Source called Wininit in Event Viewer to get to the log file. I'm using Windows XP.

Glenn P.
November 16, 2010 3:16 AM

Under Windows XP (I'm using Pro, can't speak for other flavors of XP) the info for CHKDSK is stored in a file called "bootex.log" which is written (and, thereafter, appended to) on the main drive, normally "C:\". All you've gotta do is locate this file and open 'er up in Notepad.

(N.B.: Certain third-party text editors won't open this file properly -- I've found TxEdit v5.5 by Gregory Braun to be notorious for this. Always use Notepad; it's guaranteed to work.)

MaxIp
November 19, 2010 7:10 AM


Re James. In Windows XP, instead of Wininit look for Winlogon in Event Viewer.

Patrick
January 11, 2012 5:08 AM

Hi leo; i just want to thank you for the excellent service you and your team run, i'm a novice, but i'm learning your articles are fantastic, well thought out and easy for the novice to begin the bootable journey and many other apps,that no doubt i shall be reading about in the coming months, these thanks i seriously send from a nation of on line users.please keep up the good work team as you are all most definitely needed

Ron
January 15, 2012 2:35 AM

I have just run chkdsk but am unable to find wininit. Have MS pulled it or moved/renamed it?

We'd need to know what version of Windows.
Leo
15-Jan-2012
Paul Stanley
March 19, 2013 4:59 AM

In Win XP Pro I found the results from my latest chkdsk in Event "Winlogon". Thank you for a very helpfull site.

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