How do I see the results of a CHKDSK that ran on boot?

CHKDSK must sometimes be run at boot time. When done, its displayed messages disappear. I'll show you where to find those CHKDSK results again.

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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 carefully timed taking a few screen shots of CHKDSK as it was running in a virtual machine so I could capture the results.

Besides not being useful to the average user, it turns out that was overkill. You don’t need to go to those lengths to get CHKDSK’s output. In fact, you can almost  ignore what it displays on boot.

You can get the results later, much more easily.

CHKDSK on Boot

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 it’s checking if it’s been instructed to attempt fixes or repairs. If that disk is your Windows drive (C:), CHKDSK can’t have exclusive access, because Windows is 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 in CMD

When you restart, the CHKDSK is performed before Windows is loaded.

CHKDSK on Startup

Prior to Windows 8, the actual CHKDSK information is displayed as it progresses. In Windows 8 and later, the details are hidden behind a progress indicator.

CHKDSK Progress in WIndows 8

CHKDSK runs as it normally does, and when it completes, it reboots the system – which, of course, causes any progress or results that might have been displayed on-screen to disappear.

The Event Log

On boot up, CHKDSK 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.

But 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”, and type eventvwr into the resulting Run dialog.

Run... eventvwr

Click on OK and Event Viewer will run.

Event Viewer

This is the Windows 8 Event Viewer; Windows 7’s and Vista’s are similar, while Windows XP’s is actually much simpler. While the screen shots may be different, the general idea will apply to all three.

If the right-hand pane bothers you, as it does me, click on the “Show/Hide Action Pane” toolbar button to make it go away.

Event Viewer Toolbar Button

Expand the “Windows Logs” on the left (by clicking on the triangle to its left), and click on “Application” below it.

Event Viewer Application Log

In the event log list that appears to the right, click on the first item, and then, one at a time, press the down-arrow key 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. There may be several that display scary red “error” icons – ignore those too, they’re part of the mess that is the Event Viewer.

Eventually you’ll come to an event with its “Source” listed as Wininit (Windows Initialization). The 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 Wininit Event

The text box within the “General” tab of that information below the event-log listing is scrollable, and contains the entire text of the CHKDSK run that happened at boot time. You can scroll up and down to view the entire CHKDSK session.

An easier way to view the entire CHKDSK result is to click anywhere on the results text, type CTRL+A to select all, then CTRL+C to copy it all to the clipboard. Now run Notepad, and paste the results in there.

Event Viewer Results in Notepad

The formatting can sometimes be a little odd, but the results are exactly what you’d expect: the text generated by CHKDSK as it ran on boot. It’s all there for you to view at your leisure.

This is an update to an article originally posted : November 7, 2010
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Comments

  1. Stephen Mann

    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.

  2. Brad

    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.

  3. Lisa

    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

  4. Anonymous

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

  5. Bill Sydnes

    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

  6. dave

    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.”

  7. James Mowrey

    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.

  8. Glenn P.

    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.)

  9. Patrick

    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

  10. Ron

    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
  11. Paul Stanley

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