Dealing with corrupted files on your computer can be incredibly frustrating. These damaged files can cause programs to crash unexpectedly or prevent you from opening important documents. Thankfully, Windows provides the Command Prompt as a powerful tool that can help delete corrupted files quickly and easily.
What are corrupted files?
A corrupted file is a file that has become damaged and unreadable by programs. Corruption can occur for many reasons, such as:
- Faulty storage devices like hard drives or USB flash drives
- Sudden power loss while writing data to a file
- Software bugs or glitches when saving files
- Physical damage to storage media
- Viruses or malware infecting files
When a file becomes corrupted, you may see error messages when trying to open it or find that the file’s contents are nonsensical. The corruption prevents software from reliably interpreting the file’s data.
How can corrupted files be deleted?
Since corrupted files cannot be opened normally, they can be tricky to remove. Simply sending them to the Recycle Bin through File Explorer often does not work. However, Command Prompt provides several methods to force deletion of damaged files.
Using the DEL command
The most straightforward way to delete corrupted files is by using the DEL command in Command Prompt. DEL allows you to delete files and folders by specifying their path. For example:
This will immediately remove the file completely, without sending it to the Recycle Bin. You can use wildcards like * and ? to delete multiple files at once.
Purging with SFC and DISM
Two advanced utilities called System File Checker (SFC) and Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) can scan your system for corrupted files and delete them. To use them to remove corrupted files:
- Open Command Prompt as administrator.
- Run SFC /scannow to scan for corrupted system files.
- Once complete, run DISM /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth to purge files identified by SFC.
Together, SFC and DISM will thoroughly sweep your computer and delete any corrupted system files. Be aware this can take some time to complete.
Using CHKDSK to target drive errors
The CHKDSK command is used to detect and repair drive errors. Running CHKDSK can find corrupted files on your hard disk and clear them out by:
- Open Command Prompt as admin.
- Type chkdsk C: /f to target drive C: and fix errors.
- Type Y to confirm check on next reboot.
- Restart your computer to start the process.
CHKDSK will go through your drive and attempt to recover readable data from corrupted files, deleting those it cannot salvage. This helps remove damaged files caused by issues like bad sectors.
When should you delete corrupted files?
In most cases, it’s best to delete corrupted files as soon as you encounter them to avoid further issues. However, there are a few exceptions where you may want to keep them temporarily:
- Attempting data recovery: If the file contains very important data, you may want to use data recovery software to try restoring the contents before deleting.
- Identifying causes: IT professionals may want to analyze the corrupted file to determine the root cause of the corruption before removal.
- Debugging: Developers may need to keep corrupted files with errors intact for debugging purposes during programming.
Outside of these specific use cases, it’s advised to promptly remove corrupted files to ensure system stability and performance.
How to check for corrupted files
To proactively find and delete corrupted files, you can scan your computer periodically using these methods:
As mentioned previously, running the chkdsk command will detect drive errors and corrupted files. Schedule chkdsk scans every few weeks to catch issues early.
The System File Checker tool will scan Windows system files and report corrupted ones. Run SFC scans once a month to check system integrity.
Antivirus software like Windows Defender can watch for corrupted files caused by malware. Run regular antivirus scans to catch infected files.
Error checking tools
Some third-party utilities like DiskCheckup and ErrorSafe can check drives and flag corrupted files. Use them to get a second opinion on your system’s health.
Visually inspecting your files for corruption warnings can identify problem files. Occasionally browse folders and open different file types to check for damage.
How to avoid corrupted files
Preemptively avoiding file corruption can reduce the need for deletions in the first place. Here are some tips to help prevent corrupted files:
- Install antivirus software and keep it updated to block malware infections.
- Always eject USB flash drives safely before removing to avoid data loss.
- Schedule regular disk defragmentation and error scans using utilities like chkdsk.
- Make sure your computer and drives have adequate ventilation to avoid overheating.
- Use an uninterruptible power supply to protect against power fluctuations.
- Keep regular backups of important files in case they become corrupted.
While file corruption cannot be prevented completely, taking proactive measures can greatly reduce occurrences.
Corrupted system files can seriously degrade your computer’s functionality and stability. Thankfully, Command Prompt provides powerful deletion capabilities through commands like DEL, SFC, DISM, and CHKDSK. Run these regularly to find and remove corrupted files lurking on your system. Just be sure to first try recovering important files using data recovery software if possible. With consistent scanning and deletion of corrupted files, you can help optimize your computer’s health.