Windows offers many tools that can help you fix Windows issues, especially when there are corrupt files. The SFC (System File Checker) and DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) are the most powerful tools for diagnosing and repairing Windows issues. However, which one should you use to fix Windows? Do you need to use both? Is there an order in which they should be used? let’s look at SFC vs. DISM, their key differences, and when you should run them to fix problems with Windows.
What are SFC and DISM Tools?
SFC is an acronym for System File Checker, and as the title suggests, the utility allows users to search for, restore, and repair faulty Windows system files. DISM, or Deployment Image Servicing and Imaging, is a command-line utility similar to SFC that can be used to repair Windows image files such as the Windows Setup.
SFC and DISM are built into all Windows versions and must be invoked with administrative access.
SFC and DISM: When You Should Use Them To Fix Windows
Here is the list of things we will discuss in the post to get a clear understanding of both tools.
- Differences between SFC and DISM
- When Should You Use SFC?
- When Should You Use DISM?
- How To Use SFC and DISM
- Which One Should You Run First, DISM or SFC?
You will need an administrator account to execute these commands.
1] Differences between SFC and DISM
Windows has a special folder or location called the Windows component store, also called the WinSxS folder. It houses files that Windows will need to install, customize, and update the Windows operating system.
When a system file gets corrupted in Windows, you can use the SFC to scan, identify, and replace any damaged or missing files using versions from the Windows component store.
But what do you do if the Windows component store gets corrupt in that case? That’s where the DISM comes into the picture. It can detect and fix corrupt files in the component store of Windows.
In simplified terms, SFC is typically used to repair individual system files creating issues on a specific computer. In contrast, DISM is used to repair Windows images, including the operating system. Both tools can help you troubleshoot and repair Windows problems, but they serve different goals.
2] When Should You Use SFC?
You should run an SFC check if your Windows PC is missing key system files or if some files have become corrupt. To initiate an SFC scan, execute the command
sfc /scannowin an elevated terminal. This will scan all protected operating system files and folders and replace bad files with a cached copy stored in a compressed folder at
You can also use SFC if experiencing the Blue Screen of Death, one of Window’s most common problems. If you are an admin user, it’s best to use this tool immediately. It can confirm corruption and also fix the problem without much effort.
3] When Should You Use DISM?
You should only utilize DISM if you have Windows problems that SFC cannot resolve or if you need to service Windows images. DISM connects with Windows Update Service to get a fresh copy of files that needs to be replaced in the Windows component store. If the Windows Update service is broken, you can use a Windows ISO to get the new set of files.
4] Which One Should You Run First, DISM or SFC?
You should always run SFC before the DISM tool. It can repair common Windows files and system structures using the backup available in Windows. The SFC only fails when the files in the Windows Component Store are corrupt, and that’s where you need to run the DISM tool.
That said, you will still have to run the SFC tool once DISM fixes the Windows component store. It’s because DISM can only fix component store files, and SFC fixes the corrupt system files on Windows.
5] How To Use SFC and DISM
It is important to note that you can only invoke the SFC and DISM from a command prompt or Terminal; both require administrative rights to complete operations. In Windows, there are two ways to execute the System File Checker. Read this post explaining the detailed process of running SFC to know more.
The DISM is a sophisticated tool with numerous command-line options for troubleshooting various issues. Here’s a link to a detailed guide that explains how to use the DISM tool to troubleshoot computer issues.
How to Use DISM and SFC When Windows PC Doesn’t Boot?
If you’re caught in a situation where Windows won’t boot normally, you can use a bootable USB drive to boot into Advanced Startup options. Once there, you can use the Command Prompt with the networking option and then run the DISM and the SFC Commands.
If SFC and DISM fail to address the issue, you can use the System Restore tool to restore your PC to a previously cached state that includes your prior Windows settings and preferences.
To summarise, both SFC and DISM are useful tools for Windows maintenance. Both utilities can help you maintain the health and stability of your Windows system and should be used as needed to help you repair any issues.