What are system files in Windows 10?

Technically speaking, a Windows system file is any file with the hidden system attribute turned on. In practice, system files are those files that Windows depends upon to operate properly. These range from hardware drivers to configuration and DLL files and even the various hive files that make up the Windows Registry.

When Is A System File Said To Be Corrupt?

A corrupted file is one that is damaged, and does not perform properly. This can apply to any type of file, from program files to system files and all types of documents. Just about everybody has probably had an issue with a corrupted file at some point in time. In many cases it can be resolved with a simple re-boot of your system, but sometimes the issues are more complex.

Every file on your computer has a particular structure and content. When this information is in the right place and arranged properly, the file will work as normal. However, if the wrong information is written into a file, or if the right information is written in the wrong place, it will affect the way the data is used and displayed. A corrupted file may not open at all, or it may appear scrambled and unreadable. This does not always indicate that the core program is corrupted, however – such as might be the case, for example, when a Microsoft Word file will not open, but all other files of the same type remain unaffected.

Application programs and operating systems may also develop corrupted files, which would then affect the use of items that depend on these programs to open or operate them.

How does a Windows file become corrupted?

File corruption usually occurs when there is a problem during the ‘save’ process. If your computer crashes, if there is a power surge or if you lose power, the file being saved will likely be corrupted. Damaged segments of your hard drive or damaged storage media may also be a potential culprit, as can be viruses and malware.

If some Windows functions aren’t working or Windows crashes, use the System File Checker to scan Windows and restore your files.  
Though the steps below might look complicated at first glance, just follow them in order, step-by-step, and we’ll try to get you back on track.

System File Checker is a utility in Windows 10 that checks for problems with files on your computer. To run it, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure you’ve installed the latest updates for Windows 10, and then restart your machine.
  2. In the search box on the taskbar, type Command Prompt, and right-click or press and hold Command Prompt (Desktop app) from the list of results. Select Run as administrator, and then select Yes.
  3. Type DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth (note the space before each “/”), and then press Enter. (Note: This step may take a few minutes to start and up to 30 minutes to complete.)
  4. After you see a message that says “The operation completed successfully,” type sfc/scannow (note the space between “sfc” and “/”) and press Enter.
  5. After you see a message that says, “Verification 100% complete,” type exit.

How to view details of the System File Checker process

To view the details that included in the CBS.Log file, you can copy the information to the Sfcdetails.txt file by using the Findstr command, and then view the details in the Sfcdetails.txt. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open an elevated command prompt as described in the previous step 1.
  2. At the command prompt, type the following command, and then press ENTER:findstr /c:”[SR]” %windir%\Logs\CBS\CBS.log >”%userprofile%\Desktop\sfcdetails.txt” Note The Sfcdetails.txt file contains details from every time that the System File Checker tool has been run on the computer. The file includes information about files that were not repaired by the System File Checker tool. Verify the date and time entries to determine the problem files that were found the last time that you ran the System File Checker tool.
  3. Open the Sfcdetails.txt file from your desktop.
  4. The Sfcdetails.txt file uses the following format:Date/Time SFC detailThe following sample log file contains an entry for a file that could not be repaired:2007-01-12 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

How to manually replace a corrupted system file with a known good copy of the file

After you determine which system file was corrupted and could not be repaired through the detail information in the Sfcdetails.txt file, find where the corrupted file located, and then manually replace the corrupted file with a known good copy of the file. To do this, follow these steps:

Note You may be able to get a known good copy of the system file from another computer that is running the same version of Windows with your computer. You may perform a System File Checker process on that computer to make sure the system file that you intend to copy is a good copy.

  1. Take administrative ownership of the corrupted system file. To do this, at an elevated command prompt, copy and then paste (or type) the following command, and then press ENTER:takeown /f Path_And_File_NameNote The Path_And_File_Name placeholder represents the path and the file name of the corrupted file. For example, type takeown /f C:\windows\system32\jscript.dll. 
    Command Prompt with administrator rights - command succeeded 
  2. Grant administrators full access to the corrupted system file. To do this, copy and paste (or type) the following command, and then press ENTER:icacls Path_And_File_Name /GRANT ADMINISTRATORS:FNote The Path_And_File_Name placeholder represents the path and the file name of the corrupted file. For example, type icacls C:\windows\system32\jscript.dll /grant administrators:F.
    Command Prompt with administrator rights 
  3. Replace the corrupted system file with a known good copy of the file. To do this, copy and paste (or type) the following command, and then press ENTER:Copy Source_File DestinationNote The Source_File placeholder represents the path and file name of the known good copy of the file on your computer, and the Destination placeholder represents the path and file name of the corrupted file. For example, type copy E:\temp\jscript.dll C:\windows\system32\jscript.dll.


1 Run System File Checker

  1. Type cmd in the Search box and click on Run as Administrator to open an elevated command prompt window.
  2. When Command Prompt opens, enter sfc/scannow and press Enter.
  3. Don’t close Command Prompt or interrupt the repair process. It can take a while, so wait patiently while it completes.

After the repair process is finished, you’ll see Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations message if your system files aren’t corrupted.

However, SFC tool can’t always fix corrupted files, so keep that in mind.

1.2 Check the SFC log

  1. Open Command Prompt as administrator as shown in the previous steps.
  2. Enter the following command and press Enter (By doing this, you’ll create a sfclogs.txt file on your Desktop):findstr /c:"[SR]" %windir%LogsCBSCBS.log >"%userprofile%Desktopsfclogs.txt"
  3. Open the sfclogs.txt and check the results of SFC scan.

Keep in mind that this log file contains only information related to SFC scan that is performed in Windows.

The SFC is a command line tool, and it will scan your PC and repair any corrupted system files.

2. Use the DISM tool

  1. Open Command Prompt as administrator as indicated at the first step.
  2. Enter the following command and press Enter:DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
  3. The repair process can take 10 minutes or more, so be patient and don’t interrupt it.
  4. After DISM tool repairs your files, restart your PC.

When your PC restarts, you need to check if the problem is resolved. If the issue still persists, run SFC scan again.

If you can’t run SFC tool or if SFC can’t fix the problem, you can try using the DISM tool instead.

DISM stands for Deployment Image & Servicing Management tool, and it’s used to fix any corruption problems that can prevent SFC tool from running.

Just like SFC, DISM is a command-line tool that is used to repair system files.Ad

3. Run SFC scan from Safe Mode

  1. Open the Start Menu
  2. Click the Power button.
  3. Hold the Shift key and choose the Restart option.
  4. You’ll see three options available. Select Troubleshoot.
  5. Navigate to Advanced options, then select Startup Settings and click the Restart button.
  6. When your PC restarts, you’ll see a list of options. Select any version of Safe Mode by pressing the appropriate F key.

When Safe Mode starts, repeat the steps from Solution 1 to perform an SFC scan.

Sometimes SFC scan can’t repair your files from Windows, but if that happens, you can try running SFC tool from Safe mode Safe Mode is a special mode that uses only default drivers and applications.

By using the Safe mode  you’ll eliminate any possible interference from third-party apps.

4. Perform the SFC scan before Windows 10 starts

  1. Restart your PC by following the first three steps from the previous solution.
  2. When the list of options appears, select Troubleshoot.
  3. Choose Advanced options and selectCommand Prompt.
  4. When your PC restarts, you might be asked to enter your username and password, so be sure to do that.
  5. Find the letter of your Windows 10 drive. To do that, enter the following command and press Enter:wmic logicaldisk get deviceid, volumename, description
  6. Pay attention to Volume Name. In most cases Windows Volume Name will be assigned to the letter D. This is perfectly normal if you start Command Prompt before starting Windows, so no need to worry about it.
  7. Also check System Reserved drive. In most cases, it should be C.
  8. Enter the following command and press Enter (Be sure to use the letters that you got from the previous steps): sfc /scannow /offbootdir=C: /offwindir=D:Windows
  9. Wait while your system files are scanned.
  10. After the scan is completed, close Command Prompt and start Windows 10 normally.

Sometimes you need to scan and repair protected system files, but you can’t do that from Windows 10.

Run a System Scan to discover potential errors

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To scan protected system files you’ll have to run SFC scan before Windows 10 starts like shown above in this solution.

5. Replace the files manually

  1. Open Command Prompt as administrator as shown in the first solution.
  2. Enter the following command and press Enter:takeown /f C:corrupted-file-location-and-file-nameRemember to replace C:corrupted-file-location-and-file-name with the actual location of the corrupted file. You need to include both the file name and extension and not just the location of the directory (By running the takeown command you’ll have ownership over the corrupted file).
  3. Enter the following command to gain full administrator privileges over the file and press Enter:icacls C:corrupted-file-location-and-file-name /Grant Administrators:FOnce again, replace C:corrupted-file-location-and-file-name with the actual location of the file.
  4. Now you need to replace the problematic file with the healthy file that you copied from a different PC.
  5. Enter the following command and press Enter:copy C:location-of-healthy-file C:corrupted-file-location-and-file-name
  6. Enter Yes if you’re asked if you want to overwrite the file.
  7. Repeat these steps for all corrupted files.

After all corrupted files are replaced, run the following command to verify if the problem with corrupted files is fixed:SFC /verifyonly

Note: This is one of the more advanced solutions, and if it seems a bit complicated, be sure to read it carefully a couple of times. We also advise you to be extra cautious while performing the steps.

First, you need to open your SFC log and check which corrupted files can’t be repaired. We already explained how to view SFC log file in Solution 1, so be sure to check it out for instructions.

After you find the corrupted file, you need to transfer a healthy version of that file from another PC to your PC. Keep in mind that both PCs have to use the same version of Windows 10.

To replace the corrupted file manually, you need to do the following:

6. Use System Restore

  1. Press Windows Key + S, enter create a restore point, and select the option from the results.
  2. Click on the System Restore button.
  3. Check Show more restore points. Select the available restore point and click Next.
  4. Follow the instructions to perform the restoration.

After your PC is restored, system files should be restored to the previous healthy version.

System Restore is a useful feature that will restore your system to an earlier state. If you are unable to fix corrupted files, you might want to consider performing System Restore.

7. Reset your Windows 10

  1. Restart your PC like we showed you in Solution 3.
  2. Choose Troubleshoot and selectReset this PC.
  3. You have two options available:
    • Keep my files will reinstall Windows 10, but it will keep your personal files and settings.
    • Remove everything will remove both personal files and settings (Keep in mind that third-party applications and downloaded files will be removed by performing the reset).
  4. If asked whether you want to clean the drive, choose the Just remove my files option.
  5. Choose your username and enter its password (If you’re asked to insert Windows 10 installation media, be sure to do so).
  6. Select your version of Windows and click the Reset button to start.
  7. Follow the instructions on the screen to complete the process.

If everything else fails, you might have to reset your Windows 10. This process will remove your installed apps and files, so be sure to back up important files.

To perform this process you might need a Windows 10 installation media, so be sure to create one using a bootable USB flash drive.

If the reset process didn’t fix the problem, repeat it again, but choose the second option, Remove everything.

Then select theOnly the drive where Windows is installedoption and finally select the Just remove my files option.

If that doesn’t fix the problem, perform a clean install of Windows 10.

Fixing corrupted system files is sometimes difficult, and if you can’t repair the files with SFC tool, you’ll need to use DISM tool instead. If issues still persist, you’ll have to reset your PC or perform a clean install.

You should also try a third-party tool. We’ve got an excellent list with the best tools that will bring quicker methods of how to fix corrupted files in Windows 10.

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