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System File Checker How To's

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Step 1

You will need to get your XP CD and locate the folder called:

I386 or find it in SP2

This is a major folder and should be one of the first you see, now copy this onto your hard drive into the system root. For most of you that is going to be C:\ so you should end up with a folder that looks like: C:\I386


Step 2

Now you will need to tell your computer you now have the files on your PC. We do this is the registry (type regedit in the Run box on the start menu) by navigating to:HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Setup

You will see various entries here on the right hand side. The one we want is called:


It probably has an entry pointing to your CD-ROM drive, and that is why it is asking for the XP CD. All we need to do is change it to:


Simply double click the SourcePath setting and a new box will pop up allowing you to make the change.

Now restart your computer and try scannow sfc again!


Other Problems with scannow sfc...

#1 Has the CD Drive's drive letter changed (perhaps by the addition of another hard drive, partition, or removable drive) since Windows XP was first installed? If so, simply edit the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Setup\SourcePath to reflect the changed drive letter.

After you restart the computer, WFP and sfc /scannow uses the new source path instead of prompting for the Windows XP installation CD-ROM

#2 Has the registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Setup\SourcePath got an incorrect entry? The SourcePath entry does NOT include the path location till the I386 folder. It completes one folder ahead to reach the I386 folder.

Example: If the I386 directory is at C:\I386, the SourcePath value would be C:\

#3 If the problem persists and you have the correct path for your I386 folder then the I386 folder is corrupted. To solve this problem copy I386 folder from the CD-ROM to your system restart the system and then perform sfc /scannow again.

#4 You do not have an XP retail CD with an I386 folder on it. If you have a restore CD from your PC manufacturer then you may have to explore the CD to find the folder.

#5 You still keep being prompted for the XP CD yet you have done all in this article! There is another setting in the registry that may be causing the problem. Navigate to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\SourcePath

Make sure the entry here is the same path to the I386 folder as used above.

#6 Systems administrators can enforce security policies that may include changes to the Windows File Protection settings. You will need to speak with your network administrator about this, but it is important to bear in mind when Windows starts up, the Windows File Protection service synchronizes (copies) the WFP settings from the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows NT\Windows File Protection

to the following registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

Therefore, if any of the following values are present in the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows NT\Windows File Protection key, they will take precedence over the same values under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon key.

This will not effect scannow sfc so much, but WILL make an impact if any of the other sfc.exe "switches" have been used! (More about these at the end of this article.)

#7 When you run scannow at logon you do not get a progress bar... This can easily be remedied by adding a new DWORD: SFCShowProgress to the registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon the values available are: 0 = disabled, 1 = enabled


What about Windows Updates.....

You may be asking yourself how does sfc.exe know how to check for updated Windows system files? Well during OS upgrades, service pack installations etc.. the dllcache folder should be updated with these new files.

As an example the recent Windows XP Hotfix - KB828035 updated the system file wkssvc.dll A new version of the file was placed in C:\WINDOWS\system32 and a copy in the cache: C:\WINDOWS\system32\dllcache A copy of the old system file is archived in: C:\WINDOWS\$NtUninstallKB828035$

There is another location the Windows File protection service uses and that is the I386 folder in C:\WINDOWS\ServicePackFiles When you install a service pack, like SP1. Any new system drivers are cached in this location too.

If you have odd problems with running scannow sfc and nothing else in the article has resolved it, then take a look at the entry in:


This should be pointing to the location C:\WINDOWS\ServicePackFiles (assuming C:\ is the boot drive.)

To check if sfc /scannow ran right go to start > run and type in EVENTVWR> Enter> Click on Systems> Scroll Down to the category Windows File Protection. Click it and it'll say "ran successfully" if it did. Some entries will tell you what has been repaired.

I have ran this a few times and it has always worked when I needed to actually repair files. It is rare these days that you will get an original CD for the OS, this can save you.

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