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How to Fix a File System Error in Windows 10 (Full Guide)

You might encounter a file system error when trying to open photos, documents, videos, or other files, launch executables, or run applications with administrative rights. It’s typically accompanied by a code in brackets, such as –2142719196, –1073455193, –2018375670, or –1073741792.

The file system error is usually caused by hard disk corruption, bad sectors, or damaged system files. But it can also be triggered by Windows Update errors. No matter what the root of the problem might be, you should be able to quickly fix it by following the instructions below.

File System Error

How to fix a file system error on Windows 10

Troubleshooting a computer issue on Windows 10 can be tricky if you can’t run system apps like Command Prompt, Task Manager or Services with administrator rights. So it’s a good idea to start Windows in Safe Mode because it uses elevation rights by default.

How to boot Windows 10 in Safe Mode:

  1. Press the Windows key on the desktop and open the power menu
  2. Press and hold Shift, then click Restart to boot Windows in troubleshooting mode
    • Alternatively, you can interrupt the Windows boot sequence three times
  3. Select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup SettingsWindows 10 shows the advanced startup options
  4. Click Restart
  5. Press F5 to boot Windows in Safe Mode with NetworkingWindows 10 shows more startup settings

Whenever you’re having a hard time trying to apply one of the fixes below due to a lack of permissions, just restart Windows 10 in Safe Mode to solve this problem.

1. Check for Windows Updates

If there’s a known issue that’s causing the file system error, it will likely get fixed as soon as possible by Microsoft. So, get started by running Windows Update to download the latest features, improvements, security patches, and hotfixes for your operating system.

Normally, your OS should automatically check for updates and prompt you to install them as soon as possible. In that case, you shouldn’t postpone it any longer and just allow Windows to proceed with the updating task. However, if that doesn’t happen on your PC, it’s up to you to check for updates.

How to run Windows Update:

  1. Right-click the Windows 10 Start button and go to Settings
  2. Select Update & Security and click Windows UpdateWindows 10 shows how to access the Update and Security settings
    • If there’s a pending task, click Install now or Restart now
    • Else, click Check for updates and then DownloadWindows 10 shows how to download system updates
  3. Wait while Windows is busy performing the update. Your PC might restart one or several times in the process
  4. Try to open files without errors now

2. Restart your computer

It’s sometimes as simple as rebooting your computer to fix an error that prevents you from opening files, playing games, and launching applications. If the file system error is a one-time unfortunate event, try this easy solution without taking any special steps.

3. Uninstall recent system updates

It’s not a secret that Microsoft often pushes Windows updates that end up damaging computer settings and causing havoc. It has forced many PC users to remove system updates from their machine, so you should try this solution to get rid of the file system error.

How to remove recent system updates:

  1. Press Windows key + R, type appwiz.cpl, and hit the Enter keyWindows 10 shows how to run appwiz.cpl
  2. Click View installed updatesWindows 10 shows how to view installed Windows updates
  3. Sort the updates (newest first) by clicking the Installed On columnWindows 10 shows how to sort installed Windows Updates by date
  4. Find the Microsoft Windows category
  5. Right-click the first update there and select UninstallWindows 10 shows how to confirm Windows updates removal
  6. Click Yes to confirm update removal
  7. Restart the computer and try to launch apps now


If the file system error was indeed caused by hard drive corruption or bad disk sectors, you can fix this problem using CHKDSK (Check Disk), an internal Windows utility that you can operate from Command Prompt.

  1. Run Command Prompt with admin rights
  2. If Windows is installed on the default C: drive, run chkdsk c: /f /r. Otherwise, make sure to replace c: with the correct partition letter
  3. CHKDSK will ask you to schedule the task during the next system boot. Type y and press Enter to confirm
  4. Exit Command Prompt and restart your computer

5. Use SFC

To check your computer for corrupt system files, you can run SFC (System File Checker).

  1. Open Command Prompt with admin rights
  2. Run sfc /scannowWindows shows how to run the sfc scannow command in CMD
  3. After SFC does its job, reboot your PC and try to open files

If you get the Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations message, try running DISM before SFC.

6. Run DISM and SFC

DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) is a more powerful tool than SFC because it checks the component store of the Windows image for any corruption. You can operate it from the command-line environment, too.

  1. Launch Command Prompt as administrator
  2. Type DISM /online /cleanup-image /scanhealth and press EnterWindows 10 shows how to run DISM /online /cleanup-image /scanhealth in CMD
  3. If DISM identifies any problems, fix them by running DISM /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth
  4. Restart your PC
  5. Run CMD as admin again
  6. Use the SFC command (sfc /scannow) to check for damaged system filesWindows shows how to run the sfc scannow command in CMD
  7. Restart your computer one last time and try to launch apps now

7. Run the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter

Additional hardware devices could be malfunctioning and causing the file system error as a result. The easiest way to fix them is by running the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter. You can find it in Troubleshoot settings. However, if Hardware and Devices troubleshooter is missing, you can deploy it with a command.

  1. Press Win key + R, type msdt.exe -id DeviceDiagnostic, and press Enter
  2. Click Next and apply any fixes found by the troubleshooterWindows 10 shows how to run the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter
  3. Finish the wizard steps
  4. Restart your PC and try to open files now

8. Run the Windows Store Apps troubleshooter

You could be getting the file system error when trying to launch the executable files of Microsoft Store apps because Microsoft Store is broken. However, you should be able to solve this problem by running the dedicated troubleshooter.

  1. Press the Windows key, type Troubleshoot settings, and hit Enter
  2. Click Additional troubleshooters
  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the window
  4. Select Windows Store Apps and click Run the troubleshooterhow to run the Windows Store Apps troubleshooter
  5. Complete the wizard steps and try to launch apps now

9. Check your PC for malware

It’s a good idea to regularly scan your computer for malware to eliminate any infected files which might be causing the file system error. If you rely on Windows Defender and don’t have a third-party security solution, here’s what you need to do.

How to use Windows Defender:

  1. Press the Win key, type Windows Security, and launch this app
  2. Head over to Virus & threat protectionWindows 10 shows how to select Virus and Threat Protection
  3. Click Scan optionsWindows 10 shows how to access Windows Defender scan options
  4. Choose Quick scan and click Scan nowWindows 10 shows how to run a Quick Scan using Windows Defender
  5. If Defender finds any threats it, allow it to quarantine or remove the files. Otherwise, you can run a new scan using the Windows Defender Offline scan optionWindows 10 shows how to perform a Windows Defender offline scan
  6. Restart your computer and check for file errors

10. Clean boot Windows 10

Startup apps and scheduled services might be causing problems with Microsoft Store, preventing you from launching apps and showing the file system error as a result. However, you can clean-boot Windows 10 to fix this problem.

  1. Press Windows key + R, type msconfig, and hit Enter to launch System Configuration
  2. Select the General tab
  3. Choose Selective startup
  4. Deselect Load system services and Load startup items
  5. Click Apply and exit
  6. Right-click the taskbar and open Task Manager
  7. Select the Startup tab
  8. Disable all applications with the Enabled statusWindows 10 shows how to disable startup processes
  9. Restart your computer and check if you still get the file system error

11. Uninstall recent software

Software programs you recently installed on your computer might not fully support Windows 10. Or, they could conflict with each other. For example, two antivirus solutions with real-time engines might clash, causing system stability issues and file access errors. To fix this problem, you should remove recent applications.

  1. Right-click the Start button and select Apps and Features
  2. At Sort by, select Install date (newest first)Windows 10 shows how to sort apps by install date
  3. Choose the first app in the list and click UninstallWindows 10 shows how to uninstall a program
  4. Click Uninstall again to confirm, then complete the app removal
  5. Restart your PC and check the file system error

Unfortunately, the Windows uninstaller is not efficient when it comes to removing programs. If you want to be more thorough, we suggest using a third-party app uninstaller. It eliminates not only apps by also any remnant files and registry keys. And some of these programs provide quick access to uninstalling Microsoft Store apps, too.

12. Fix the system registry

The Windows registry might have corrupt, changed, or missing entries. As a result, your computer is experiencing various problems, including the file system error when attempting to open files or launch applications.

To fix this issue, you can turn to a registry cleaner. However, if you don’t want to go through the trouble of installing any software application, here’s what you have to do.

  1. Click the Start button, search for Registry Editor, and open this app
  2. Open the File menu and select ExportHow to create a registry backup
  3. Set a new name and destination to save a backup of the current registry settings
  4. Exit Registry Editor
  5. Press the Windows key and click the power button
  6. Press and hold Shift while clicking Restart
  7. When you see the blue screen, select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Command PromptWindows 10 shows how to access Command Prompt from the advanced startup mode
  8. Write the next lines and press Enter after each one:
    • cd c:\Windows\System32\config
    • ren c:\Windows\System32\config\DEFAULT DEFAULT.old
    • ren c:\Windows\System32\config\SAM SAM.old
    • ren c:\Windows\System32\config\SECURITY SECURITY.old
    • ren c:\Windows\System32\config\SOFTWARE SOFTWARE.old
    • ren c:\Windows\System32\config\SYSTEM SYSTEM.old
    • copy c:\Windows\System32\config\RegBack\DEFAULT c:\Windows\System32\config\
    • copy c:\Windows\System32\config\RegBack\DEFAULT c:\Windows\System32\config\
    • copy c:\Windows\System32\config\RegBack\SAM c:\Windows\System32\config\
    • copy c:\Windows\System32\config\RegBack\SECURITY c:\Windows\System32\config\
    • copy c:\Windows\System32\config\RegBack\SYSTEM c:\Windows\System32\config\
    • copy c:\Windows\System32\config\RegBack\SOFTWARE c:\Windows\System32\config\
  9. Exit and start Windows as normal
  10. Check if you still get the file system error

13. Unplug peripheral devices

An external device that’s currently plugged into your computer might not be correctly installed. Or maybe it’s not compatible with your operating system. To test this, shut down your PC and unplug all peripheral devices, aside from your keyboard and mouse.

Then, start Windows and check if you still receive the file system error. You can also try reinstalling a device from Device Manager.

  1. Right-click the Start button and select Device Manager
  2. Select a device from the list, right-click it, and choose Uninstall device
  3. Check the Delete the driver software for this device box and click Uninstall
  4. Open the Action menu and click Scan for hardware changes
  5. Restart your computer and try to open files now

14. Repair and reset the Microsoft Store app

If you’re getting the file system error only when trying to open files with a specific app from Microsoft Store, it could be an app-specific issue that can be easily resolved by repairing and resetting that app. We are using Photos in the example below.

  1. Click the Start button, search for the app’s name, select it, and click App settings
  2. Scroll down to the Reset section
  3. Click Repair and wait (the app’s data won’t be affected)
  4. Minimize this window to the taskbar
  5. Try to open a file using the app
  6. If it doesn’t work, restore the app’s window
  7. Click Reset and then again to confirm (the app’s data will be deleted)
  8. Try to use the app now

15. Switch to a local user account

Some problems that might be causing the file system error are tied to permission settings and the Microsoft account. Normally, signing in with your Microsoft account should open all doors on your Windows computer. However, it sometimes help to switch to a local account. If you don’t already have one, here’s how to set it up:

  1. Press the Win key, type Settings, and press Enter
  2. Go to the Accounts section
  3. Assuming that you’re currently logged in with a Microsoft account, click Sign in with a local account insteadWindows 10 shows how to sign in with a local account instead
  4. Specify the account’s username and password
  5. Click Change account type and select Administrator
  6. Sign out of the Microsoft account and sign back in using the local account
  7. Try to open files or launch apps now

16. Check the system memory

If the system memory is malfunctioning, this could cause serious problems on your Windows 10 computer, including file access issues. You can quickly test your RAM by turning to an internal tool called Windows Memory Diagnostic. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Make sure to save your ongoing work and terminate all programs
  2. Press Win key + R, type mdsched.exe, and hit Enter
  3. Click Restart now and check for problemsReboot your PC to run Windows Memory Diagnostic

The RAM will be tested before Windows boot. By default, it runs the test in Standard mode. However, if you have a bit of time on your hand, we suggest opting for the Extended test since it provides more valuable information.

Press F1 to go to Options, select Extended, and press the F10 key to confirm. After Windows boots, it will reveal the memory diagnostics results in the notifications center (wait a few minutes if they don’t get shown immediately).

If you prefer a more powerful alternative to Windows Memory Diagnostic, check out MemTest86.

17. Use System Restore

If everything fails up until this point, it’s time to use System Restore. You can roll back Windows to a checkpoint that was created before you started getting the file system error. However, this means that such a restore point must already exist on your PC. On top of that, all programs installed after the restore point will no longer exist, so you will have to reinstall them.

  1. Press Win key + R, type control panel, and hit Enter
  2. Select RecoveryWindows 10 shows how to access Recovery from Control Panel
  3. Click Open System Restore (you need admin rights)Windows 10 shows how to open System Restore
  4. Choose a restore point, click Next, and proceed with the instructions
  5. Your computer will restart
  6. Try to open files and launch programs now

18. Reset Windows 10

Finally, if the System Restore scenario isn’t possible on your computer or if it returns errors, you can restore Windows 10 to factory settings. It takes a while and all your applications will be uninstalled, but your personal files will be kept safe.

  1. Click the Start button, type Reset this PC, and hit Enter
  2. Click Get startedWindows 10 shows how to reset this PC
  3. Select Keep my files and proceed with the step-by-step instructionsWindows 10 shows the PC reset options
  4. Make sure to set your preferences after Windows resets

You can fix the file system error on Windows 10 computers

To review, the file system error is usually caused by hard disk corruption, which can be resolved. Start with workarounds as simple as checking for system updates and restarting your computer. It might be necessary to start Windows 10 in Safe Mode to apply most solutions on the list.

You can run the CHKDSK, SFC and DISM command-line utilities, uninstall malfunctioning system updates, use the Hardware and Devices and Windows Store Apps troubleshooters, check your PC for malware, clean boot Windows 10, uninstall recent software, and fix the system registry.

It’s also a good idea to unplug peripheral devices, repair and reset the Microsoft Store app you’re trying to launch, switch to a local user account, check the system memory for errors, use System Restore to roll back Windows to a safe checkpoint, or reset Windows 10 to default settings if everything fails.

How did you repair the file system error on your PC? Did we leave out any important steps? Let us know in the comments below.

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