XP includes the Check Disk utility as a way to search for and repair file system errors on your hard disks. While the graphical version of the tool is accessible from the Tools tab in the properties of a disk, XP also includes a command-line version of the tool in the form of CHKDSK. When run from the command line, this tool allows you to scan for file system errors, fix those errors, and even specify which specific files should be checked if you don’t want to scan an entire volume.
For example, the command CHKDSK E: /R will scan drive E: for errors, and fix any errors encountered. An example of this command is shown below. As part of your regular maintenance schedule, run CHKDSK at least once per month to ensure good disk and file system health.
Almost all users would agree that the Windows graphical user interface (GUI) has come a long way since the days of Windows 3.1. Having “evolved” from the days of the MS-DOS command line, graphical tools made it easier for less experienced users to manage their systems, perform maintenance tasks, and have certainly made using a PC much friendlier experience. Unfortunately, the popularity of the Windows GUI has led many users to forget about or ignore the command line completely.
Truth be told, Windows XP includes a number of powerful command line utilities that are well worth a second look. Many power users swear by this environment as a quicker way to perform common tasks, while all users will appreciate the ability to use these tools within batch files that can be scheduled to perform maintenance tasks automatically. In this mini-series we take a closer look at twenty of the most useful command line tools included with XP, outlining what they do and how they can make your life easier. When in doubt with a command, always use the /? switch to view information about available switches and proper syntax.