How Do I Fix a Corrupted Windows System File using its healthy version?

If you are experiencing issues in your windows and can’t figure out the root of the problem, if your windows is showing errors constantly, if your operating system is unable to operate desirably and crashes usually, it can be classified as one of the most common occurrences which arise due to ‘system file corruption’. You can check the event viewer in order to get a general idea about the issues your system is facing such as ‘file system corruption’ error or hard drive error, but these are useful if your computer does not crash, if the computer crashes constantly and blue screen appears which is generally termed as ‘Blue Screen of death’ error, it's due to the corruption in system files or indicates missing system files.

Often, there are times for windows users to find themselves trapped in fixing or understanding a system anomaly. It gets more disturbing if the fault has occurred from within the windows file system itself, it creates several difficulties like crash and dysfunctional windows functionality. System files in windows are exposed to a number of conditions where they are vulnerable and are under a constant threat of corruption and/or deletion; reason may vary from an improper update of the Operating system to deleting files or modification due to malware in the system.

Here are a few things you should try for the smooth functioning of your windows in case your system files are corrupted or dysfunctional due to above mentioned or any other reasons;

Run Automatic check using ‘System file checker tool (SFC.exe)

This tool is provided by the windows in order to check for corrupt or missing system files in windows and help restore them. This is a utility that performs the system file restoration automatically.

Using SFC.exe tool: This tool is accessible using the command prompt window.Windows 10, 7, XP – Go to Start > Search ‘cmd’ or ‘command prompt’ > Run as Administrator.

  1. Windows 10, 7, XP – Go to Start > Search ‘cmd’ or ‘command prompt’ > Run as Administrator.

Windows 8 & 8.1 – open search (Lower right corner) > type ‘command prompt’ > Run as administrator.

This allows your windows to open a command prompt window where you can further perform the system file check operation.2.In the command prompt window go to specific directory

2. In the command prompt window go to specific directory


Once you enter the directory, type in SFC/Scannow

The command prompt will run the system file checker tool and will check and try to fix all the system files error.

For all the corrupt or deleted files in system, the system file checker will replace files with the corresponding copies from the cached copies saved in system32/dllcache.

However, during the execution of windows resource protection files, the outcome may be below-mentioned responses:

  • Did not find any Violation – It states that there is no corrupt or missing file present in the system.
  • Successfully repaired corrupt files – Details of the successful restoration are logged in CBS.Log – this response suggests the successful restoration of corrupt files in the windows and details can be looked up in %Windir%\logs\CBS\CBS.log.
  • Found corrupt files but unable to repair – This suggests the presence of corrupt files in the windows and Windows resource protection was unable to repair them, the details can be found in the CBS.log for further analysis.
  • Could not perform the requested operation – This suggests that the System file checker is unable to execute the requested query and there are no details to the missing or corrupt file system.
  • System file checker could not run/ not working – This suggests the need to perform ‘manual restoration’ of system files.

Repair corrupt system files manually;

If the response from system file checker is negative and you are unable to repair the corrupt system files, a manual restoration of such files is required, but in order to do that, we have to look out for the details from system file checker.

The details from system file checker can be obtained using CBS.log file; to call for the file log file in the command prompt follow the steps mentioned below:

  1. Copy the CBS log file content to Sfcdetails.txt file on the desktop of your window using “findstr” command and view the details using sfcdetails.txt saved on your desktop.
  2. Open the command prompt window and type in ; findstr /c:“%windir% ”Logs\CBS\CBS.log >%user1%\E:\sfcdetails.txt

This will contain the details from all the operations when the system file checker has been executed. The detailed log can be viewed using the sfcdetail.txt file.

  1. The detailed report can be viewed from the respective text file that you have saved from command prompt which contains information in the form; Date/Time SFC details.
  2. As the corrupt files are recognized from the log SFC details, you can next try to find the corresponding files that are healthy in nature from either the cached data folder or some other computer or system files from some other source and save the same in the desktop (or elsewhere).
  3. Take administrator ownership of the corrupt file by using command prompt through takeown/f file path and grant the administrator the full access to process the corrupt file using icacls file path/grant administrators:f
  4. Replace the corrupt system file with the good copy of a file, saved during step IV using command prompt; Copy source file destination file.

Some of the common troubleshooting methods while experiencing the corrupt system file error issue.

  • Use Windows Update troubleshooter if your PC is unable to apply updates, or offers them repeatedly.
  • During the failure of Automatic Repair or unavailability of Safe Mode suggests errors or missing files on the hard disk of your computer which prevents Windows startup. Bootable Recovery options like Drive/System Repair Disc or (CD/DVD Drive) can be helpful in such cases.
  • Backup and restore functions are also available in some of the versions of windows.
  • Refresh, Reset the computer or restoring a system image are also adopted in various scenarios.

Note: All the above-listed troubleshooting methods may lead to the loss of your personal data and change in the system functionality, if you are resilient to stick to your current settings and file system, here's a software for repairing corrupted files  manually by following the instructions provided.

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John Harris

Senior Editor, Content Analyst and a fan of exceptional customer service. John develops and publishes instructional and informational content regarding partition management, Windows hot-fixes, data management and computer troubleshooting.

As a tenured data recovery specialist, John shares exceptional insights and blog posts about data loss and data recovery across any storage device. With 8+ years’ experience in writing for Data Recovery for both Mac OS and Windows OS computers, he is an avid learner who always wants to polish and simplify the data recovery process. John passes his free time playing Chess and reading Science Fiction novels.

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