How to Find What Files SFC Could Not Repair

You can use the powerful System File Checker (SFC) tool in Windows 7 and Windows Vista to scan and repair Windows operating system without having to completely reinstall the operating system. Once you have done that, SFC keeps track of its actions in a log file named cbs.log, including any files that it could not repair.

Obviously, the entire log isn’t what you want to read, unless you need the sleep. The idea is to find out which files can’t be repaired. To do that, you can follow these steps in Windows 7 and Windows Vista:

  1. From the Start menu, choose All Programs→Accessories.

  2. Right-click the Notepad menu item.

  3. Choose Run As Administrator from the pop-up menu.

    You must run Notepad as an administrator to access a log file located beneath the Windows folder.

  4. Type the administrator’s password or click the Continue button.

  5. Choose File→Open.

  6. In the File Name box, type %windir%\logs\cbs\cbs.log

    As you type, a drop-down list of matching folders and files appears, which is your clue that you’re doing it correctly.

    Don’t type a period after the word log! You’re typing a filename, not a sentence.

  7. Click the Open button.

    The log file cbs.log appears in Notepad — though it may take some time to load because the sucker is huge.

    Yes! The log contents are complex. No need to fuss:

  8. Choose Edit→Find to summon the Find dialog box.

  9. Type the text cannot repair into the box and click the Find Next button.

    You see a log entry highlighted in the Notepad window, telling you which file SFC wasn’t able to fix and why. The filename appears in double quotes along with a lot of gobbledygook about what’s wrong.

  10. Click the Find Next button to look for the next file in the list that SFC couldn’t fix.

    Or, you can dismiss the Find dialog box and press the F3 key as the keyboard shortcut for the Find Next command.

  11. Close Notepad.

What do logs tell you? Well, not much. If SFC cannot fix the file, there may be nothing further you can do — other than repair Windows.

You might also try searching the Microsoft Knowledge Base for information about the filename. Visit http://support.microsoft.com and type the name of the file that befuddles SFC.

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