PSA: Running Check Disk Can Break Your SSD

Blue Screen Errors
(Image credit: Planet3DNow)

Troubleshooting your system is usually supposed to help solve your problems instead of introducing new issues, but according to reports from some Windows users, the operating system is currently breaking their SSDs and causing blue screens after running its Check Disk Utility.

While Windows does a decent job maintaining disks on its own nowadays, “chkdsk” is a command that tech-savvy users will be plenty familiar with. It’s still useful if you need to repair your storage, but for now, you’ll probably want to avoid using the command.

A thread from German tech forum Planet3DNow, which has been reported on by both Hot Hardware and Windows Latest, points to a forum admin whose SSD file system broke after running chkdsk’s /f parameter on their C drive.

"This is not an isolated case,” the admin writes (via Google translate). “It is also not due to the hardware used by the PCs, because it can also be reproduced in a VM on a completely different system." 

The admin said that the vulnerability appeared after updating to the December 2020 version of Windows 10 64-bit. Other users confirmed that they faced the same issue. Those encountering the bug said that the blue screen error they encountered displayed “NTFS_FILE_SYSTEM,” which renders the system unable to boot.

A Windows Feedback Hub user expressed similar problems, saying “I was doing routine maintenance on my PC, I ran chkdsk c: /f from an elevated PowerShell console and restarted my PC. It seemed to work normally, but after the chkdsk ran, my PC restarted again, then tried to run another chkdsk and failed, then tried to diagnose startup problems and failed and then started the recovery screen.”

Thankfully, Microsoft has acknowledged the issue, but its fix oddly predates these user reports.

The company said in its December 8th updates that “This issue is resolved and should now be prevented automatically on non-managed devices.” However, given that the user reports are only now starting to come in, it’s clear that chkdsk might still be dangerous for some. If you haven’t run across the issue yet, Microsoft suggests restarting your device to help apply the fix.

If you have encountered the problem, Microsoft also posted the following guide to fix your machine:

“1. The device should automatically start up into the Recovery Console after failing to start up a few times.

2. Select Advanced options.

3. Select Command Prompt from the list of actions.

4. Once Command Prompt opens, type: chkdsk /f

5. Allow chkdsk to complete the scan, this can take a little while. Once it has completed, type: exit

6. The device should now start up as expected. If it restarts into Recovery Console, select Exit and continue to Windows 10.

Note After completing these steps, the device might automatically run chkdsk again on restart. It should start up as expected once it has completed.”

Given that the original German forum thread was posted on the 18th, we’d suggest restarting your PC if you haven’t since the 8th, and then still being cautious about running the chkdsk command for a while.

Michelle Ehrhardt

Michelle Ehrhardt is an editor at Tom's Hardware. She's been following tech since her family got a Gateway running Windows 95, and is now on her third custom-built system. Her work has been published in publications like Paste, The Atlantic, and Kill Screen, just to name a few. She also holds a master's degree in game design from NYU.

  • jakjawagon
    I had to deal with this today. I ran chkdsk to fix some problems caused by the faulty RAM I'd just replaced. Rebooted and was stuck in an 'automatic repair' loop. I had to do some messing about with diskpart (assign a drive letter to the broken partition or something) before running the chkdsk /f in the recovery console, but it was fine after that.
  • fevanson
    I'm still on 20H1 May 2020 update, since there are always massive bugs with new Win 10 releases.
  • dae
    I uninstalled KB4592438. On restart, Windows tells me it will to reinstall it. There is no "urgent fix update" showing up either.